London's Big Garden Birdwatch 2016 results

Martin Jensen

Thursday 31 March 2016

In excess of half-a-million people joined in the world's largest garden wildlife survey turning their eyes to the garden to watch and count over eight million birds during the 37th RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch; witnessing some exciting and interesting changes among our most popular garden birds.

The mild weather in the months leading up to the 2016 Birdwatch affected bird behaviour, as it provided easy access to bugs and reduced their dependency on garden feeders.

Dr Daniel Hayhow, RSPB Conservation Scientist, said: "The weather can have varied effects on different groups of birds in terms of behaviour and habitats used. The increase in smaller garden birds just goes to show that in the absence of very cold weather these species can survive winter in much greater numbers. The warmer temperatures have made it easier to find food, like insects, which in colder winters would have been harder to come by because of frosts and snow."

During periods of colder temperatures birds struggle to find food in the wider countryside so become more reliant on garden feeders. Smaller birds, have adapted to feeding at bird tables or from hanging feeders. Since 2005, sightings of goldfinches have rocketed 278 per cent in Greater London's gardens, while great tit numbers have risen 17 per cent over the same period and robins have gone up 8 per cent.

Dr Hayhow added: "Despite this boost in numbers many other of our garden favourites are struggling. Sightings of well known species such as starlings and blackbirds have experienced another drop during the Big Garden Birdwatch this year. This decline continues a trend which has seen the number of both species visiting gardens decline by 34 and 19 per cent respectively since 2005.

RSPB London's Tim Webb says: "A lot of our favourite garden birds are struggling and are in desperate need of our help. Gardens, outdoor spaces and balconies are an invaluable resource for birds. They can provide a safe habitat with food and water to sustain starlings and blackbirds with an obvious effect on their populations. If we start to lose birds from London, we'll start to see the desertification of the Capital with a subsequent decline in human health and well-being."

"The chirping of house sparrows remains muted compared with the city's soundscape of 2005. Sightings of sparrows are down 13 per cent but the fall has slowed and efforts to restore them may be starting to have an impact."

"Another surprising finding of the survey is an 82 per cent fall in sightings of ring necked parakeets in London compared with last year (down 6% compared with 2005's findings). They gather in large numbers so many will doubt this drop, but perhaps their growing numbers have proved too much for the greenbelt to contain, and that ring necked parakeets are now bursting out of the Capital's borders to colonise other areas."

The findings of the Big Garden Birdwatch are reflected in the parallel event, Big Schools' Birdwatch, which continued to break records with more schools and children taking part than ever before. The UK-wide survey of birds in schools had close to100,000 school children spending an hour in nature counting birds. Blackbird remained the most common playground visitor for the eighth year in a row. The top three was rounded off by black-headed gull and starling.

Big Garden Birdwatch and Big Schools' Birdwatch are a part of the RSPB's Giving Nature a Home campaign, aimed at tackling the housing crisis facing the UK's threatened wildlife. The charity is asking people to provide a place for wildlife in their gardens or outdoor space, whether it's putting up a nest box for birds, creating a pond for frogs or filling outdoor spaces with nectar rich plants.

 

1. The RSPB is the UK's largest nature conservation charity, inspiring everyone to give nature a home. Together with our partners, we protect threatened birds and wildlife so our towns, coast and countryside will teem with life once again. We play a leading role in BirdLife International, a worldwide partnership of nature conservation organisations.

 

2. 2016 Big Garden Birdwatch results: rspb.org.uk/birdwatch

 

3. RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch survey is the largest citizen science survey in the UK and is a part of the RSPB's Centre for Conservation Science. The centre was set up with the aim of finding practical solutions to the most pressing conservation problems, whether it's working out how to save a species on the verge of extinction or restoring a destroyed rainforest.

4. 2016 Big Schools' Birdwatch results:

 

Rank

Species

Change in rank 2015-2016

Average per school

% of schools

1

Blackbird

0

6.5

87

2

Starling

0

4.8

50

3

Woodpigeon

+3

4.8

72

4

Black-headed gull

0

4.7

41

5

House sparrow

-2

4.4

60

6

Carrion crow

-1

4.1

55

7

Magpie

+1

3.4

69

8

Blue tit

-1

2.8

69

9

Robin

+1

2.4

78

10

Jackdaw

+2

1.6

33

 

5. Top ten tables for birds for each London borough are available upon request; contact Martin Jensen for details. 020 7808 1240.

 

6. Top ten Big Garden Birdwatch results for Greater London:

 

Greater London 2016

Species

Average

Rank

% of gardens

Woodpigeon

2.57

1

80.6

House sparrow

2.53

2

42.4

Starling

2.22

3

38.4

Blue tit

2.19

4

75.8

Feral pigeon

1.52

5

35.6

Blackbird

1.43

6

73.3

Great tit

1.42

7

59.6

Magpie

1.30

8

61.2

Robin

1.27

9

80.2

Goldfinch

1.21

10

27.1

 

 

9. The RSPB offers everything to easily create a haven for wildlife in your garden. All our expertise has been used to develop the very best food and homes, using sustainable materials whenever possible. All the profits from our shop go towards helping birds and wildlife. Browse below, or view our online shop for our full range of products. rspb.org.uk/shop

 

10. Find out more about our work in London by visiting our online pages, our blog, or follow us on Facebook.

Last Updated: Tuesday 28 August 2018

Tagged with: Country: England Topic: Big Garden Birdwatch