reveals further starling decline

SOME of the UK’s most threatened and best-loved bird species are continuing to decline, according to results from the RSPB’s annual Big Garden Birdwatch survey 2013.

Starlings, a UK “red-listed” species meaning it is of the highest conservation concern, hit an all-time low in the Birdwatch last year and their numbers dropped a further four per cent in West Yorkshire gardens this year.

Numbers of house sparrows, also on the red-list, dropped by 20 per cent in West Yorkshire gardens compared to 2012, whilst bullfinches and dunnocks, both amber-listed, fell by 19 per cent.

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Martin Harper, RSPB conservation director, said; ”We know from the many people who take part in Big Garden Birdwatch every year that garden birds are incredibly precious to us and connect us to nature every day.

“I had the joy of doing the Birdwatch with my children again this year and, fidgeting aside, it was one of those memorable mornings when the family is captivated by nature.

“But, several of our familiar and best-loved species have been declining at alarming rates over the 34 years that the RSPB has been running the Birdwatch and this year’s results show a continuing decline.

“We go to great lengths to ensure that special UK habitats are given the right levels of designation and legal protection because of their role in supporting threatened wildlife, but what’s very clear is that every one of our gardens, the places literally on our doorsteps, are important too.”

Almost 590,000 people across the UK, including 75,000 pupils and teachers at schools, took part in the Birdwatch in January. In West Yorkshire more than 14,000 people participated in the survey.

Whilst the decline of some species continued, others fared better with garden sightings of siskins and fieldfares up in West Yorkshire gardens. The cold, harsh conditions in the wider countryside back in January is likely to have driven more of these birds into gardens on their search for food.