As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Saturday 29 March 2014

Big Garden Birdwatch results: Devon’s top ten

Media release

Big Garden Birdwatch results: Devon’s top ten
Gardens are vital for many much-loved species
Almost eleven and a half thousand people took part in this year’s RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch in Devon. The survey, the largest of its kind in the world, involves people counting the different birds that come to their gardens in one hour any time over the last weekend of January.
The top six birds are all the same position as last year – with house sparrow again at the number one spot, blue tit at number two and chaffinch at number three. Further down the list there are a few changes, with woodpigeon moving up a place to number seven and robin dropping to number ten.
Some species continue to do well. A decade ago, goldfinches were not in the top ten in Devon, but this year occupy the number six spot. Scientists believe that the increase in people providing food like nyjer seed and sunflower hearts in gardens, may have contributed to their steady rise to number seven.

Overall numbers of species, such as blackbirds and chaffinches may appear to have dropped in our gardens since last year, but in many cases this is not because these populations are in decline but because these species don’t need to come into our gardens during mild winters due to there being plenty of natural food available in the wider countryside.

However the continuing declines of some species are of greater concern.   Numbers of starlings have dropped by an alarming 84 per cent since the Birdwatch began in 1979. This species is on the UK ‘red list’ meaning it is of the highest conservation concern.

There is slightly better news for the house sparrow in Devon, as the declines appear to have slowed, and it remains the most commonly seen bird in our gardens.  However, it remains on the red list as we have still lost 62% since 1979.
Tony Whitehead speaking for the RSPB in the south west says: “2014 was always going to be an interesting Big Garden Birdwatch as the winter has been so mild, and we wondered if it would have a significant impact on garden birds.

“They were out and about in the wider countryside finding natural food instead of taking up our hospitality. The good news is that this may mean we have more birds in our gardens in the coming breeding season because more survived the mild winter.  It is a great time to give nature a home by putting up a nesting box and supplementary feeding”

Martin Harper, RSPB Conservation Director says: “Many garden birds rely on us humans for help. During winter, birds need extra food and water, and at other times of the year, as well as sustenance, a safe place to shelter and make their home can really give them a boost.

“Two of the species that moved up the national rankings this year, blue tits and goldfinches, are adaptable, friendly garden birds and great examples of birds that can flourish with our help. If we put up a nestbox, leave out some food or let our gardens grow a bit wild they’ll be among the first to take advantage.”

This year, for the first time, participants were also asked to log some of the other wildlife they see in their gardens.

The RSPB asked whether people ever see deer, squirrels, badgers, hedgehogs frogs and toads in their gardens, to help build an overall picture of how important our gardens are for giving all types of wildlife a home.

This information will be analysed and results will be revealed next month.

The Big Schools’ Birdwatch is part of the Big Garden Birdwatch. The UK-wide survey of birds in schools has revealed that the blackbird is the most common playground visitor for the sixth year in a row.  85% of schools that took part in the survey in the Big Schools Birdwatch saw blackbirds, with an average of five birds seen per school, slightly down on 2013 figures.

Giving Nature a Home is the RSPB’s latest 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 own gardens and outside spaces – whether it by planting pollen-rich plants to attract bees and butterflies, putting up a nestbox for a house sparrow, or creating a pond that will support a number of different species.

The RSPB hopes to inspire people across the UK to create a million new homes for nature.

To find out how you can give nature a home where you live visit

For further information and to arrange an interview, please contact:
RSPB SW: Tony Whitehead 01392 453754, 07872 414365
RSPB HQ: Gemma Butlin 01767 693489/07967 818558/or Gemma Hogg 01767 693582/07738 881359
Broadcast-quality radio interviews:
To arrange an ISDN broadcast-quality radio interview please contact Gemma Butlin at the RSPB press office.
Images to support this story are available from RSPB Images.
To access an image, please click on the hyperlink below and then enter the user name and password when prompted:
User Name:                           RSPB
Password:                              BGBW 2014
Editor’s notes:
Devon Results in 2014
Av per garden
% of gardens that recorded this species
House sparrow
Blue tit
Great tit
Long tailed tit

Local authority results available on request from Tony Whitehead
The RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch is the world’s biggest wildlife survey with around half a million people taking part every year. Now in its fourth decade, the survey has made a major contribution to tracking garden bird numbers over the winter

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.

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

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