Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Top 10 UK Garden Birds 2008

For anyone who took part with the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch in January 2008 the results are now out. Below I have listed the top ten with comparison figures for 2007. You can see my top ten visiting garden birds here.

Top 10 Garden Birds 2008

1. HOUSE SPARROW with an average of 3.6 per garden
(2007 – 1. with 4.4 per garden)

2. STARLING with an average of 3.44 per garden
(2007 – 2. with 3.67 per garden)

3. BLACKBIRD with an average of 2.45 per garden
(2007 – 4. with 2.26 per garden)

4. BLUE TIT
with an average of 2.29 per garden
(2007 – 3. with 2.82 per garden)

5. CHAFFINCH
with an average of 2.15 per garden
(2007 – 5. with 1.9 per garden)

6. WOODPIGEON with an average of 1.53 per garden
(2007 – 7. with 1.53 per garden)

7. COLLARED DOVE with an average of 1.43 per garden
(2007 – 6. with 1.56 per garden)

8. ROBIN with an average of 1.26 per garden
(2007 – 9. with 1.26 per garden)

9. GREAT TIT
with an average of 1.25 per garden
(2007 – 8. with 1.37 per garden)

10. GOLDFINCH
with an average of 1.16 per garden
(2007 – Goldfinch not in top ten,
Greenfinch was 10th place with 1.2 per garden)



Finches bring such wonderful colour to the garden. Chaffinches are always in my garden but now I have an increasing number of siskins - I even had siskin juveniles in last year. I also have greenfinches and goldfinches visiting too – again bringing their young. Therefore, I am not surprised at all that the RSPB has highlighted the finches in their results page:

"Numbers of colourful finches visiting UK gardens over winter are at their highest levels for five years. For the first time in the survey's 29-year history, the striking siskin made it into the top 20, and the scarcer brambling moved from 57 to 36 in the rankings. This increase in bramblings and siskins (up by two thirds in the last five years), suggest that tree seed supplies have been poor this year and they've been forced into gardens to find food. Along with siskin and brambling increases, redpoll numbers skyrocketed, being seen in twice as many gardens this year as last. Again this is probably due to poor supply of food.”

Finally, to see a more detailed list of the birdcount in your area check out this list on the Results Pages.

15 comments:

Lisa at Greenbow said...

This report is much like our reports in that the lack of tree seeds forced northern birds south this winter. This is an interesting read. Thanks for posting the results.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

It's interesting that the most common birds in the UK are among the most common in the US. I wonder what that means.

Clare said...

I have been looking at your blog regularly since last June. I find your photos a much better guide to identifying garden birds than the books I have got.
I did the garden watch in January. Having recently got a bit better educated I now know that for years I have confused certain birds (e.g. I thought dunnocks were sparrows) and I wonder if this type of mistake from well-intentioned novices reduces the value of the results of the survey... What do you think?

Cheryl said...

I have been a member of the RSPB for around twenty years now. I am also part of their wildlife gardening campaign. I think it is so important now with the climate changing.
Lovely post. Lovely sparrow.

Mike @ Fenphotography said...

Great post Shirl with some surprising results, I'm glad you added the link for other areas the results for Lancashire where I am was very interesting and will be great to compare when I take part next year. Mike.

shirl said...

Hi there Lisa, Mr McGregor’s Daughter, Clare,
Cheryl and Mike :-)


Lisa – Yes, it is interesting to read we have similar issues to you in the US. I wonder if a new school being built a few streets away from me (which is on the edge of town) will bring birds from the fields and trees in to my garden or away from it.

Mr McGregor’s Daughter – Now that is very interesting! It must be that they are hardy and resilient species to survive in different climates :-D

Clare – hello there! How nice to hear from you. I am delighted that my photos have helped with your ID’s. Funnily enough it was photos on other sites that helped me too in the beginning. The books are only a guide aren’t they? I would imagine that there are many well-intentioned people counting birds that fly over too. ID is tricky when the birds are on the move and there are a few at a busy feeder or on the ground. Yes, I imagine you are not the first to think that a dunnock is a house sparrow – nor will you be the last. I bet I have made that mistake too! I suppose the shear numbers of participants in this survey will smooth out any mistaken ID’s. We had a Sparrowhawk visit – so my count wasn’t accurate either. BTW love the photo of your guinea pig – we have two :-D

Cheryl – I agree that the value of these surveys is crucial to understanding climate change. I also think the value of people taking part who are not members of RSPB or BTO is of great importance – awareness of what is changing is the key. I also believe there should be yearly plant surveys too - not just first signs of Spring :-D

Mike – Thank-you. I too find more local stats interesting too. Unfortunately the RSPB site doesn’t make it easy to find this info – hence the link. It will be helpful for me too. Look forward to reading your results next year :-D

Trisha said...

Hi Shirl, I really like reading your blog. the photos and information are great. I agree with Clare about getting dunnocks confused with sparrows and think she's got a good point sbout whether other people have as well. I think we get dunnocks to our garden feeders but they are so nondescript I don't notice them. Your photos are great - how do you do it? I should leave more comments when I visit your site. It seems starlings need help so I feel a bit guilty because to me starlings are a nuisance. They just take over the feeders sometimes. Take care and keep up the good work. Trisha

Border Reiver said...

Interesting comments, and thank you Shirl for highlighting these results. I guess Clare's comment is very valued. Female House Sparrows, look very much like female Chaffinches, Male House Sparrows look like Tree sparrows (both sexes) except tree sparrows are redheads not grey. It is confusing and I'm often saying to experienced birders if somone asks what could seen a silly question, remember when you knew nothing? Some of you may know too that the Dunnock was called a Hedge Sparrow in the past, but is a completely different family, Sparrows are in the Bunting family and Dunnocks are Acentors. Whatever they are, and whatever you have in your garden, it's very relaxing and important for the survival of such species who co-habit with man. But if you do feed, please don't put fat balls up if they are in mesh bags, as the poor birds get caught in them. Great posting Shirl.

Yolanda Elizabet said...

Our top tens are very similar! House sparrows are the most common here too which is very encouraging as they have been on the decline for quite some time.

brucesc said...

I would love to take part in your count next year, Shirl. My birds will be similar to Jayne's as we are both in the southeast. Like others, it's hard for me to imagine starlings or house sparrows being on the red list. They are super abundant all over the US. We'd be happy to give them back, just as I know you'd like us to take back our gray squirrels!

shirl said...

Hi there Trisha, Border, Yolanda and Bruce :-)

Trisha – Good to hear from you again. Thank-you for your kind comments! Yes, I agree with you and Clare re the dunnock. I am no expert at all with birds but by taking photos and videos of them I suppose I now look much closer at their detail. My basic tip for ID on a dunnock would be that it darts around the ground, by itself usually, and the house sparrows are more likely to be in groups (although not always). I see the dunnock in basic terms as a brown bird with a grey head – but that’s just the way I see it. I completely hear what you are saying about the starlings! My garden was a place I didn’t want to be in last year when they brought their young to feed them – what a noise they made!! I completely understand about leaving comments – I have the same problem visiting sites too :-D

Border – I really value comments from you in posts like this. For the purpose of others reading this I would like to introduce you… Border works for the BBC as a wildlife camera man and has done so for a few years. Please correct me if I am wrong here, Border, feel free to introduce yourself further in another comment.

Border – Yes, Clare’s comment has struck a chord here. I completely agree about the chaffinches too – you almost need to see them fly away to ID them as the tail gives them away. I am not an experienced ‘birder’ at all and rely on my observations of behaviour to get me through ID etc. I had no idea that birds have changed names over the years – I have been more used to the changes in plant names. I want to ask the question – but I won’t’! I completely hear what you are saying. Ah… the mesh bags. I agree once again. After reading a few years ago that birds can get broken legs being caught in them I have never used them. Let’s face it they must be easy pickings for the Sparrowhawk on a red mesh bag! I don’t use wire basket feeders either. Mine are all the tube type – I feel they are easier to keep clean too. Thanks once again for your comment :-D

Yolanda – Yes, we do have many similarities with birds and plants as you in the Netherlands. Yes, I do remember you saying the house sparrow numbers had increased too. Excellent :-D

Bruce – From the Netherlands to South Carolina – how nature and birds connect us all! Yes, I invited a few blogs I regularly visited outside the UK to join us here in a bird count. I will remember to include you next year – that will be interesting as I am new to your blog as you know. I love discovering blogs with video of wildlife too. I am looking forward to seeing more of the hummingbird which I will never see in my garden. I have say I have never known a woman by the name of Bruce either. I bet you catch a lot of people by surprise! Yes, it would also be no surprise that many here would want the squirrels to return from whence they came – but not everyone. Yes, I suppose when you have a species that you see in abundant numbers it is hard to imagine them on a red list. We are lucky that we can ‘share’ our wildlife if needs be for it to survive :-D

Rosie said...

Hello Shirl : I read with interest your post on blotanical which I have just discovered and become a member of ,So so many interesting people in the world. Nova Scotia Canada is my home and we also do a bird count on boxing day. Right now in our gardens we are seeing the return of North American robins , Redwing Blackbirds and Grackles. We are desperate for these signs of a spring which refuses to come and stay - Rosie -

shirl said...

Hi there Rosie, thanks for visiting :-)

Delighted to hear that you have discovered blotanical too. It is great to chat about plants with others that have a passion for them too :-D

Ah… the Boxing Day bird count in Canada. I have heard of that through Jodi and others, I think that’s a great day to do it.

Yes, I have also heard that spring has been slow to arrive in Nova Scotia (again through Jodi’s postings) but the birds arriving must be a good sign for you all. Happy Springtime when it comes :-D

Barbara said...

Number 1-4 are probably the main gardenbirds here too. I didn't see a statistic up to now....Sparrows are the most common ones, this is for sure. Actually, it is wonderful to get awake by birds song! It is Spring, though still quite cold sometimes with even some snow...

shirl said...

Hi again, Barbara :-)

Yes Switzerland, where you are like the Netherlands with Yolanda, has very similar garden birds to the UK. The House sparrow is the most common in the UK but here in Scotland the Chaffinch takes the top spot. Yes we have had it cold here too with odd flurries of snow and hail stones. Hope it gets warmer for us both soon :-D