Sparrows are still top of the pecking order

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Over 43,000 people across Scotland, including 1245 in Falkirk district, took part in the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch this year.

They each spent an hour counting the birds in their garden over the weekend of January 24 and 25.

Across Scotland the house sparrow stayed at the top of the rankings while starlings moved up one place to second and chaffinches moved down a place to third.

Overall, more than 632,000 birds were counted in Scotland.

Robins and tree sparrows saw big climbs in the top 20. Robins moved up three places to number six and were Scotland’s most widespread garden bird after being seen in more than 91.4 per cent of gardens.

Tree sparrows are now perched at number 16, their highest position for 10 years.

Coal tits took the biggest tumble in the top 20 falling from number nine in 2014 to number 13 in 2015.

Keith Morton, species policy officer at RSPB Scotland, said: “It’s great that so many people took part in this year’s Big Garden Birdwatch.

‘‘Both house sparrows and starlings, the top two birds in our 2015 results, are red list species and so these results help us at RSPB Scotland to paint a picture of how they and other birds are faring over winter.”

Across the UK, this year’s results indicate that the long term decline of house sparrows appears to have continued to slow and it is the most commonly spotted bird in the UK.

They remain a conservation concern as numbers have dropped by 57 per cent since the first Birdwatch in 1979.

Starlings are also of high concern, having dropped in numbers by an alarming 80 per cent since the first Birdwatch.

Keith said: “Big Garden Birdwatch helps us understand some of the trends in bird numbers.

“However, a decline in ranking in one year doesn’t necessarily mean a cause for concern.

“For example, warmer weather overseas might explain why some of our winter visitors aren’t so plentiful in the Birdwatch results this year.”

There was a notable 
decline in the number of some winter migrants that were spotted over the Birdwatch weekend.

Bramblings and waxwings dived down the rankings although this may have more to do with the good conditions on the continent over the winter, reducing the need for these birds to migrate here.

Keith added: “Gardens are important to our wildlife all the year round.

“As we move into spring there are lots of ways you can give nature a home – from planting the right trees and shrubs to building a log pile.

“Birds need a reliable source of food so once they know to find it in your garden they’ll keep coming back.”