MORE than 6,000 residents across Worcestershire took part in this year’s Big Garden Birdwatch to help discover which are the most popular of our feathered friends to grace the county.
The house sparrow still tops the list and the number of average sightings an hour was exactly the same as last year – 3.4.
The biggest change was the blackbird which finished last year’s count in second with an average of 2.9 sightings – it has now dropped to third with only 2.3 being seen each 60 minutes.
The new second placed bird is the blue tit with 2.7 sightings – again exactly the same figure as last year – and more wood pigeons were seen this year than there were in 2013. But despite that, they remain in fourth position.
The rest of the top ten include the goldfinch, great tit, starling, Robin, long-tailed tit and the chaffinch.
One plus point is that nationally the great spotted woodpecker has crept into the top 20 for the first time ever.
Scientists believe this year’s milder conditions played a role in many birds recording lower numbers – blue tits are more reliant on food from gardens whereas blackbirds can go and forage for worms and insects in the open countryside.
Richard Bashford, Big Garden Birdwatch organiser, said 2014 was always going to be an interesting Big Garden Birdwatch because the winter had been so mild and they wondered how often birds would be visiting gardens.
“They were out and about in the wider countryside finding natural food instead of taking up our hospitality.
“The good news is that this may mean we have more birds in our gardens in the coming breeding season because more survived the mild winter.”
He added it was a great time for people to put up a nesting box and supplementary feeding.
Nationally the continuing decline of some species is concerning – starlings and song thrushes have dropped 84 and 81 per cent respectively since the Birdwatch began in 1979 and both are on the UK ‘red list’ meaning their futures are most feared for.
The decline of the house sparrow has slowed, but it remains on the ‘red list’ as the species has suffered a 62 per cent drop since 1979.
Martin Harper, the RSPB’s conservation director, said many garden birds relied on humans for help – during the winter, birds needed extra food and water and, at other times of the year, a safe place to shelter where they could make their homes.
And that, he added, is where gardens came into the equation.
and make their home can really give them a boost.
“Two of the species that moved up the rankings this year, blue tits and goldfinches, are adaptable, friendly garden birds and great examples of birds that can flourish with our help.
“If we put up a nestbox, leave out some food or let our gardens grow a bit wild they’ll be among the first to take advantage.”
The RSPB hopes to inspire people across the UK to create a million new homes for nature – visit rspb.org.uk/homes for more information on what to do to help our feathered friends.
The house sparrow is still the most popular bird seen in the region’s gardens. Picture by Ray Kennedy (rspb-images.com)
The woodpigeon is in fourth place in Worcestershire. Picture by Chris Gomersall (rspb-images.com)