Friday, 29 July 2011

Top 10 UK Garden Birds 2011

Results for the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch for 2011 were published back in March. The graphic way the RSPB have chosen to illustrate and compare the stats makes it a good read too. You can get the full PDF list here. Although a tad late, perhaps this is a good time to be posting this :-)

Since writing this garden, bird and wildlife blog I have taken part with a count. On posting the results each year, I now have stats for the last five years of this survey which you can see below. I’ve always found the comparisons interesting and perhaps you might too. But first, do you feed birds during the summer months?

Since March our garden birds have paired up, nested and brought their young to our gardens. Back in January, everyone was being encouraged to put up bird feeders prior to the count - held annually on the last weekend of January.

Now, with us in full summer (although it doesn’t always feel like it) leaves on trees and shrubs can make seeing the birds visiting our gardens a bit more tricky. In reality many parent birds will be hiding their bedraggled look of worn feathers at the moment.

However, birds are still visiting our gardens and will definitely appreciate food at bird feeders during this time of year too to get them back to full health again. Some birds do have more than one brood too.

Feeding young is tiring work for the parent birds and if food at feeders is not suitable to take back to their young than it certainly will fuel these hard working parents so they can find some.

I’d take a guess that our summer bird feeders do contribute greatly to numbers of garden birds in counts for the RSPB and in other surveys. If yours is packed away in the shed until winter, do consider getting it out again :-)

I have mentioned this before, but pre blog I really didn't think birds needed feeders during the summer. I was wrong.

Since continuing to feed the birds in my garden throughout the whole year I have definitely had the reward in seeing an increase in birds and species to my small garden. There's also the bonus of seeing so many newly fledged birds which is both a delight and fun to see.

Okay... to the stats! In summary first, during the last 5 years the Top Ten garden birds counted for the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch has had the same nine birds with 10th place seeing the most changes. So this is how the 2011 Big Garden Birdwatch went…




Top 10 Garden Birds 2011

1. HOUSE SPARROW with an average of 4.16 per garden
2010 – (1) with 3.77 per garden
2009 – (1) with 3.70 per garden
2008 – (1) with 3.60 per garden
2007 – (1) with 4.40 per garden

2. STARLING with an average of 3.91 per garden
2010 – (3) with 3.13 per garden
2009 – (2) with 3.21 per garden
2008 – (2) with 3.44 per garden
2007 – (2) with 3.67 per garden

3. BLACKBIRD with an average of 3.27 per garden
2010 – (2) with 3.28 per garden
2009 – (3) with 2.84 per garden
2008 – (3) with 2.45 per garden
2007 – (4) with 2.26 per garden

4. BLUE TIT with an average of 3.16 per garden
2010 – (4) with 2.58 per garden
2009 – (4) with 2.45 per garden
2008 – (4) with 2.29 per garden
2007 – (3) with 2.82 per garden

5. CHAFFINCH with an average of 2.35 per garden
2010 – (5) with 2.19 per garden
2009 – (5) with 2.01 per garden
2008 – (5) with 2.15 per garden
2007 – (5) with 1.9 per garden

6. WOODPIGEON with an average of 1.93 per garden
2010 – (6) with 1.91 per garden
2009 – (6) with 1.85 per garden
2008 – (6) with 1.53 per garden
2007 – (7) with 1.53 per garden

7. GREAT TIT with an average of 1.56 per garden
2010 – (8) with 1.39 per garden
2009 – (8) with 1.40 per garden
2008 – (9) with 1.25 per garden
2007 – (8) with 1.37 per garden

8. GOLDFINCH with an average of 1.51 per garden
2010 – (10) Goldfinch with 1.29 per garden
2009 – (10) Long-tailed tit with 1.34 per garden
2008 – (10) Goldfinch with 1.16 per garden
2007 – (10) Greenfinch with 1.20 per garden

9. ROBIN with an average of 1.46 per garden
2010 – (7) with 1.49 per garden
2009 – (9) with 1.36 per garden
2008 – (8) with 1.26 per garden
2007 – (9) with 1.26 per garden

10. COLLARED DOVE with an average of 1.34 per garden
2010 – (9) with 1.33 per garden
2009 – (7) with 1.44 per garden
2008 – (7) with 1.43 per garden
2007 – (6) with 1.56 per garden


It’s great to see the House Sparrow give a good increase in numbers this year. You can see from my stats above that this bird is creeping up towards numbers back in 2007 which is brilliant news for a bird that is on the endangered list.

The House Sparrow has continued as top bird seen in UK gardens. In fact the top six species of birds seen in UK gardens this year has remained unchanged except for a swap around with the Starlings and Blackbirds for 2nd & 3rd place.

Starlings, another species on the endangered list, have returned to their 2nd place slot which they have held for 4 out of the last five years. However, once again the really good news is that their slowly decreasing numbers over the last four has seen a significant increase this year!

Starlings have actually shown a bigger increase in numbers for 2011 than the house Sparrows… aiming for top spot for 2012 maybe?

Sadly, this year we didn’t get any Blue tits nesting in our boxes with cameras. That was a shame, especially when I was testing out a new one for someone. Although on the positive side we have seen a young family arrive at the feeders and now see them regularly.

Wonderfully, last year we saw our first brood of Blue tits survive (via nestcam box see diary with pics and video here) so I’m particularly thrilled to see a good increase in numbers of Blue tits this year despite them holding on to the same 4th spot that they have held for four consecutive years now.

As you have seen, I have chosen to illustrate my list to show where a bird has been placed over the last five years. Perhaps I should explain what’s going on with the Goldfinch entry – it’s all about 10th place which wonderfully for the Goldfinch it is no longer in :-)

The Goldfinch has charmed its way up to 8th place this year! It has been outside the Top Ten for two of the last five years and taken 10th spot in the other two years. I have added who took 10th spot for the years it didn’t make the Top Ten. Sorry, if this has been confusing.

My garden has seen many Goldfinches visit this year and throughout the winter. One brood of young has come and gone at feeders with many becoming regular visitors. I’m pretty sure more than one family has visited too. I am expecting more new broods to come so it is no surprise to me at all that this bird has moved up in the stats.

Jumping back up to 5th place in the 2011 RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch and we have the consistent Chaffinch which has held 5th place for the past 5 years. That’s its UK place, but here in my part of Scotland it takes top spot again. That doesn’t surprise me either based on my garden visitors.

I’ll not go through all species in the list above but will end with 10th place and a mention of the Collared Dove. Although it has only dropped from 9th spot last year back in 2007 it was in 6th place so it’s maybe one to keep an eye on.

The date is already set for the 2012 Big Garden Birdwatch as Saturday 28th/Sunday 29th January. Until then… enjoy feeding and watching the birds that visit your garden :-)


This post was written by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch

7 comments:

Liz said...

Hi Shirl,

I can offer some of my Sparrows out... I have so many they're costing me too much in birdfood atm :(
I've just attempted to take photos of them swarming on my feeders and in the trees, what the camera can't see is that there are also many on the ground searching for food and some on the fatball feeders.
I actually look forward to Autumn when the juveniles move off to find their own homes/natural foods. I think it's been a bumper year for them this year as I don't remember quite this many!

Sue@G.L. Allotments said...

Interesting - I wish I'd kept our statistics over the years to compare how things have changed in our garden.

We have had a large increase in sparrows but only ever one starling and that is only occasionally.

We put up a nest cam this year and had a nest of blue tits. Plenty of young bluetits and great tits around the feeders.

This year our bird varieties have increased maybe because we have put out a much more varied selection of food but maybe also the harsh winter meant more birds 'found' us and stayed. We had lots of firsts.

We have had lots of goldfinches and at least three immature robins - being at different stages it's easy to spot individuals. If they had been in adult plumage we maybe would have thought we only had two.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

It is interesting to see your list of birds and to hear the UK overall listings.

Too bad House Sparrows and Starling can't be reintroduced from here. We have millions and millions of both.

We usually feed all summer long in our garden but this year we decided not to for the fact that the House Sparrows were becoming too thickly populated in our garden. They seemed to have dispersed somewhat. We see them in our garden all the time anyway just not in such large numbers. They were chasing the House wrens and other birds out.

We did put out blackberry jelly for the Catbirds. They have been bringing their young to that just the past couple of days. Such fun to see. This is their second brood. I think that they too have benefited from not having so many House Sparrows around.

Janet said...

I thought that sparrows and starlings were tow of the birds in decline. Will unpack the feeder and find a spot for it. feeling a tad guilty...
Did you do the butterfly count? We had none, nada, rien. Still very few but saw a lot of Burnett moths on the dog walk yesterday.

Midmarsh John said...

Great to see the Goldfinch numbers increasing.

My feeders are emptying as fast now as they did in mid winter.

The Garden On Loch Ness said...

Great blog Shirl with really interesting stats,so good to see some species on the rise again.
Our garden has been full of bird life, but sadly the pair of nesting osprey have not been back this year.
I have just compiled a small ( But hopefully set to expand) list of great Scottish gardening blogs, and have included you in the list - I hope this is okay.
If you know of any more I have not yet included, please do drop me a comment. Thank you, best wishes, Cat @ Abriachan
http://lochnessgarden.blogspot.com/p/list-of-scottish-gardening-blogs.html

shirl said...

Sorry peeps, once again a bit late with replies. I do feel a tad guilty posting when I know my replies could be delayed :-)

Liz, ah yes… the house sparrow invasions… great news on numbers… except on the purse as you say :-)

Sue, Ah… now there’s a thought… I have stats for my garden. I should do a comparison there. Fantastic news on your nestbox! I remember you saying you had put it up. Ah… I’d tend to agree with you on the wider variety of bird feeders bringing a wider variety of birds to your garden. Have found the same here. Firsts are great… enjoy many more :-)

Lisa, good to hear you enjoy hearing about our bird counts and species. I also enjoy hearing about yours in the US. I often will Google images to see the birds you mention and search for audio too. Yes, I can understand your selective feeding at times when one species invades the garden. Your catbirds look real characters and I can see why you like them :-)

Janet, you’re right, they have been but numbers are looking better. I wonder if increasing numbers of people taking part in the count play any factor though. Although, I know it’s supposed to be an average for the stats. Shame you saw no butterflies for your count but as they say, all counts paint a picture of numbers. Oops, not submitted mine… can’t remember the date I did it either. Bad blogger me… other stuff going on. Love to see a burnet moth on a walk or in my garden :-)

John, I agree on the goldfinches. The new varieties of birds arriving in your garden are testament to your regular feeder supplies. Well done you! Thinking about changing feeder arrangements here as some climbers are screening too much :-)

Hello again, Cat :-) Thanks for your kind comments and inclusion in your garden blog list. Like Janet, I know some but will check out the others. If I come across others I’ll drop you a comment :-)