16 of Britain's top 20 garden birds declined in number over past year, survey reveals

A survey conducted by a national wildlife charity found some 16 of Britain's top 20 most common garden birds have declined in number since 2020.

Monday, 12th April 2021, 3:45 pm

RSPB’s 2021 Big Garden Birdwatch saw over one million people in the UK take part in its annual garden bird count in 2021, more than double the number of participants in 2020.

In total, over 17 million birds were counted in UK gardens for the survey - which is in its 42nd year - but many of the previously most-commonly seen had declined in number since last year, figures revealed.

The house sparrow remained the most spotted bird for the 18th year in a row, and blue tits - in second place - were spotted in three quarters of all gardens.

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The house sparrow remained the most common garden bird for the 18th year running during the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2021. Photo: Prakash Mathema/AFP - Getty Images

But starlings fell down the rankings by one place to third for the first time since 2010, at a decline of 14 per cent compared to 2020.

It was good news for blackbirds and robins, the fourth and sixth most spotted birds in UK gardens, which had both increased in number by 11 per cent since last year.

However, faring the worst for a decline in number this year was the long-tailed tit - falling by 23 per cent, from an average of 10 per garden in 2020 to just one per garden in 2021.

Beccy Speight, chief executive of the RSPB, said: “Lockdowns have brought few benefits, but the last year has either started or reignited a love of nature for many people, right on their doorsteps.

“We hope the birdwatch has kindled a new passion for wildlife for the thousands who took part for the first time this year – we need every voice raised to stand up for nature.

“The wildlife that gave us so much interest and solace is now just a fraction of what should be there. On the back of this wave of public support, we need the government to take the global leadership, policy and legislative opportunities open to it this year to reverse the decline and restore nature now.”