Britain is home to two of the 20 or so species of true sparrows found in the world: house sparrows, as well as their more rural relative, the tree sparrow. They are found in most of the conurbations in Britain but their connection with London is a particularly strong one.
They were once super abundant in the capital with barely a street without a cheery chirping flock of them. They were very common when I was growing up. Whenever I visited an inner-city park there were sparrows galore. They were the default small bird that you would take for granted and barely notice, like the crusty pigeons that they shared the streets with, or so I thought.
Whilst I was spreading my own wings visiting nature reserves away from the urban sprawl the sparrow population in London took a dive.
Survey results from Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens painted a depressing picture. In the 1930s there were over 3,500 birds present. By the mid-70s 1,500 and by 2001 just one bird survived there.
They had effectively become extinct in a park that was once synonymous with them.