PUBLISHED: 07:00 01 October 2018
The cockney sparrow could be making a comeback.
East London used to be a house sparrow stronghold but annual surveys by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) found populations crashing year after year from the mid-1970s.
They plummeted by around 70 per cent at the end of the 1990s.
Since then numbers have stabilised and there are high hopes they are starting to recover.
Results from the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch survey, which sees people reporting feathered friends spotted from their windows, suggests the humble sparrow is gaining in numbers in the borough.
Urban ecologist Dr Caroline Nash from the University of East London (UEL) suggested one reason for the drop was a lack of food with development and modern building design piling pressure on the species.
“Loft conversions have a lot to answer for,” Dr Nash said before explaining that sparrows like to nest under the eaves of houses but noisy human neighbours occupying roof space put them off.
Recent research suggested air quality played a role in their decline.
The top five birds in Havering in descending order after the top placed sparrow are the starling, wood pigeon, blue tit and blackbird.