Wren. Photo_John Bridges rspb-images

Wren. Photo_John Bridges rspb-images

By Ann Evans
If you like to see the birds in the garden, then set aside an hour this coming weekend, 30-31st January to take part in the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch. It’s all part of the RSPB’s Give Nature a Home campaign, aimed at tackling the problems facing the UK’s threatened wildlife.

Blue Tit. Photo Ray Kennedy rspb-images

Blue Tit. Photo Ray Kennedy rspb-images

This annual survey of the UK’s bird-life is now in its 37th year and it provides vital information on how the UK bird population is doing and the changes in numbers of birds using our gardens in winter. Results have revealed that many of our most popular species are in decline.

Collared Dove Photo_Andy Hay rspb-images

Collared Dove Photo_Andy Hay rspb-images

Conservation-wise, the UK’s birds can be divided into three categories: red, amber and green. Red being the highest conservation priority with species needing urgent action. Next critical are birds on the amber list, and then green. Last year, although the most common bird spotted in our gardens was the house sparrow it is actually on the red list due to a severe decline in numbers. Estimates indicate that numbers have dropped by 71% between 1977 and 2008. The situation in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland however indicate an increase in house sparrow populations.

Family bird watching Photo_Ben Hall rspb-images

Family bird watching Photo_Ben Hall rspb-images

The starling takes second place in last year’s Big Garden Birdwatch but again numbers have plummeted since the birdwatch survey began in 1979, and the starling is another bird on the red list, with the RSPB urgently trying to find out why its numbers are declining.

Feed the birds. Photo_ Rahul Yhanki  rspb-images

Feed the birds. Photo_ Rahul Yhanki rspb-images

Happily, the blackbird which was the third most widely spotted bird in our gardens, with more than 90% of us catching sight of one, is on the RSPB’s green list. The cheeky, chirpy robin – voted the UK’s National Bird, moved up three places on last year’s charts to seventh place. Eight-five per cent of birdwatchers last year spotted a robin in their garden.

In last year’s Big Garden Birdwatch the tiny wren was spotted by 35% of people taking part, plus it was the highest number of wrens sightings recorded since 2006.

Great Tit. Photo_ Chris Gomersall rspb-images

Great Tit. Photo_ Chris Gomersall rspb-images

Worryingly, song thrush sightings had declined to an all time low, coming in at 22nd on the list, and remaining on the red list. While 25th in the list of species, numbers of Greenfinch have dropped dramatically. The experts say that it could be because of Trichomonosis disease. We can all help here by making sure that bird feeders, bird tables and bird baths are cleaned regularly.

More than half a million people are expected to take part in the coming weekend’s Big Garden Birdwatch. You’ll find all the information you need at the RSPB website. You’ll also be able to register and download a pack to help you spot the species that come into your garden: (http://www.rspb.org.uk/)

The top 10 birds in 2015 were:

1. House sparrow

2. Starlings

3. Blackbird

4. Blue Tit

5. Wood pigeon

6. Chaffinch

7. Robin

8. Great Tit

9 Goldfinch

10.Collared dove

Photos courtesy of RSPB images.

Sparrow. Photo_Ray Kennedy rspb-images

Sparrow. Photo_Ray Kennedy rspb-images

 

About Ann Evans

Feature writer and award winning author, Ann Evans has more than 22 books published for children, young adults, reluctant readers and adults. Never content to write one thing at a time, she always has at least half a dozen different writing projects on the go. She worked for 13 years on the Coventry Telegraph as a feature writer and currently writes for a number of different magazines, in print and on-line. Ann is also a writing tutor running classes for adults and doing author school visits throughout the UK. Ann decided to put her years of writing experience together in her book Become A Writer – a step by step guide. Amazon link:http://www.amazon.co.uk/Become-Writer-Step-Guide/dp/1907670246 Blogs:http://annsawriter.blogspot.com