Eight out of 10 of Britain's most popular songbirds are in decline, RSPB says 


Nearly 80 per cent of Britain’s most popular songbirds are in decline, the RSPB has warned after its biggest-ever Big Garden Birdwatch.

The world’s biggest wildlife survey found that 16 out of the 20 most spotted garden birds faced a decline in numbers on the previous year.

More species currently face decline than in 2020, when half the birds in the top 20 saw falling numbers, the conservation charity announced.

Over a million wildlife enthusiasts counted 17 million birds in their garden in one hour on the last weekend in January – double the number of people who took part in the charity’s enormous birdwatch last year.

The study found that the house sparrow remained number one, but 16 out of the top 20 bird species showed declines in average counts on last year. 

Male House Sparrow

Beautiful blue tit

Nearly 80 per cent of Britain’s most popular songbirds are in decline, the RSPB has warned after its biggest-ever Big Garden Birdwatch. Left, sparrow. Right, blue tit

Starling bird

Common blackbird

The world’s biggest wildlife survey found that 16 out of the 20 most spotted garden birds faced a decline in numbers on the previous year. Left, starling. Right, blackbird

Top 10 most spotted songbirds in Britain 

House sparrow

Blue tit

Starling

Blackbird

Woodpigeon

Robin

Great tit

Goldfinch

Magpie

Long-tailed tit

Numbers of thrushes have declined by a startling 78 per cent over the last four decades, despite a marginal rise this year.

Just robins, blackbirds, carrion crows and the song thrush saw an increase on 2020, with loss of habitat and food the reason most bird species have seen their numbers fall since the birdwatch began 42 years ago.

There are concerns about the chaffinch and greenfinch, which have been seen in their lowest ever numbers this year due to Trichomonosis, which can kill.

Both birds are impacted by the disease Trichomonosis, which can kill. To combat the illness, it is advised people clean their bird tables and replace seed regularly. 

Beccy Speight, chief executive of the RSPB, has called on Britons to to make room in all their outdoor space, including windowsills, for birds. 

‘One way you can help revive our world is to bring nature to you,’ she said. ‘Your garden, balcony, and even windowsill are potential havens for wildlife, and in April we’re launching a digital platform, Nature on Your Doorstep, to help show you how.’

Martin Harper, head of conservation at the charity, told the Telegraph: ‘I am worried about chaffinches, we have known for a while that chaffinches are being affected by the same disease greenfinches are, but I think that while we knew about it 15 or 16 years ago, the trend is looking more worrying than initially thought.

‘Sadly, one of our most well known garden birds has real cause for concern about this disease. That was the one I was most worried about and surprised by.’ 

Wood pigeon

Robin

More species currently face decline than in 2020, when half the birds in the top 20 saw falling numbers, the conservation charity announced. Left, woodpigeon. Right, robin

Colorful great tit

European goldfinch

The study found that the house sparrow remained number one, but 16 out of the top 20 bird species showed declines in average counts on last year. Left, great tit. Right, goldfinch

He added: ‘For all birds, they need enough food to rear their chicks and survive winter, as well as enough places to shelter.’

Despite the decline facing bird species in the UK, the RSPB said it had been ‘blown away’ by the rise in birdwatching during the pandemic. 

Ms Speight said:’Lockdowns have brought few benefits, but the last year has either started or reignited a love of nature for many people, right on their doorsteps.

‘This winter has been a bleak ordeal but as the dawn chorus starts to burst into song and the blossom starts to flower from the trees once more, we are emerging from this pandemic a new generation of nature lovers. 

Beautiful Eurasian magpie

Long-tailed tit

Numbers of thrushes have declined by a startling 78 per cent over the last four decades, despite a marginal rise this year, Left, magpie. Right, long-tailed tit 

‘We hope the birdwatch has kindled a new passion for wildlife for the thousands who took part for the first time this year – we need every voice raised to stand up for nature. The wildlife that gave us so much interest and solace is now just a fraction of what should be there.’

On the back of the public support, she urged the Government to take the opportunities for global leadership and policies it had this year to reverse the declines and restore nature.

A recent YouGov survey found that 41 per cent of UK adults have seen wildlife near their homes in the last 12 months that they have not noticed before.

The survey suggests that nature has helped people cope with the last year, with 63 per cent of respondents saying that hearing birdsong has added to their life enjoyment during the pandemic.   

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