House sparrows top RSPB survey

The house sparrow kept its number one spot in East Yorkshire.
The house sparrow kept its number one spot in East Yorkshire.

The latest results from the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch have revealed a mixed picture for East Yorkshire and Humberside garden birdlife with half of the top 20 species returning fewer sightings in gardens across these counties than in 2018.

Now in its 40th year, the Big Garden Birdwatch is a chance for people of all ages to count the number of birds that visit their garden helping the RSPB build up a picture of how they are doing.

The event held over the last weekend in January revealed the house sparrow kept its number one spot in East Yorkshire.

House sparrows were followed by starlings, blackbird, wood pigeons, blue tits, gold finches and collared doves on the list.

UK house sparrow numbers, reported by participants since the Big Garden Birdwatch began in 1979, have fallen by over half, but in recent years, national numbers have slowly started to rise again, giving conservationists hope that at least a partial recovery may be happening.

This year in East Yorkshire and Humberside, there was a decrease in garden sightings of wrens and long-tailed tits, two of the smallest species to visit our gardens, after being counted in particularly large numbers in 2018.

Populations of both species may have been affected by last year’s ‘Beast from the East’ as small birds are more susceptible to spells of cold weather.

However, it’s too early to say if this is a one year blip or the beginning of a trend.

Throughout the first half of the spring term the nation’s school children also took part in the RSPB’s Big Schools Birdwatch.

The UK-wide survey of birds in school grounds saw close to 60,000 school children, including more than 980 in East Yorkshire and over 140 in Humberside, spend an hour in nature counting the birds.

Nationally blackbird was in the number one spot, but bucking the national trend, starling was the most numerous species seen in East Yorkshire schools, with an average of 13 per school; and was spotted in almost three-quarters of all schools that took part in the county.

The Humber also bucked the national trend with woodpigeon taking gold position.

An average of over six were seen per school and they were recorded in two-thirds of schools that took part in the county.

Annabel Rushton, from the RSPB in Northern England said: “It’s incredible to see that so many people across East Yorkshire and the Humber show a real passion and concern for the wildlife in their gardens and green spaces.

“People are becoming more and more aware of the challenges and threats that our UK wildlife is currently facing.

“Citizen science surveys, such as our Big Garden Birdwatch, really help empower people of all ages and backgrounds to play an active part in conservation, and to speak out for the wildlife they love and want to protect.”

Visit for a full round-up of all the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch results and to see which birds were visiting gardens where you live.