House sparrows rule the roost in Scottish Borders

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  • In the Scottish Borders house sparrows took the top spot
  • Across Scotland house sparrows stayed at the top of the rankings, while starlings moved up one place to second and chaffinches moved down a place to third
  • Robins moved up three places to number six and were Scotland’s most widespread garden bird after being seen in more than 91.4 per cent of gardens

House sparrows were the most commonly spotted bird in gardens in the Borders, according to an RSPB survey.

Over 43,000 people across Scotland, including 1,732 in the Borders, took part in the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch this year, spending an hour counting the birds in their garden over the weekend of January 24/25.

Both house sparrows and starlings, the top two birds in our 2015 results, are red list species, and so your results help us at RSPB Scotland to paint a picture of how they and other birds are faring over winter

Keith Morton

Overall more than 632,000 birds were counted in Scotland. In the Borders house sparrows took top spot and across Scotland house sparrows were also top of the rankings. Starlings moved up one place to second and chaffinches moved down a place to third.

Both robins and tree sparrows saw big climbs in the top 20. Robins moved up three places to number six and were Scotland’s most widespread garden bird after being seen in more than 91.4% of gardens. Tree sparrows are now perched at number 16, their highest position for 10 years. Coal tits took the biggest tumble falling from number nine to 13.

Keith Morton, species policy officer at RSPB Scotland said: “It’s great that so many people took part in this year’s Big Garden Birdwatch. Both house sparrows and starlings, the top two birds in our 2015 results, are red list species, and so your results help us at RSPB Scotland to paint a picture of how they and other birds are faring over winter.”

Across the UK this year’s results indicate that the long term decline of house sparrows appears to have continued to slow, and it is the most commonly spotted bird in the UK. However, they remain a conservation concern as numbers have dropped by 57% since the first Birdwatch in 1979. Starlings are also of high concern having dropped in numbers by an alarming 80% since the first Birdwatch.

The parallel UK-wide event, Big Schools’ Birdwatch, had more schools and children taking part than ever before. There were over 12,000 participants in Scotland. Blackbirds held on to their top spot in Big Schools’ Birdwatch, seen by over 85% of the participating schools.

The charity is asking people to provide a place for wildlife in their own gardens and outside spaces – whether it’s putting up a nest box for birds, creating a pond to support a number of different species or building a home for a hedgehog.