A major 'citizen science' project has thrown up some interesting results on the breeding preferences and success of our garden birds.
Nearly 6,000 people took part in the RSPB Nestwatch
survey between 21 and 30 May. Each reported whether they saw 18 species of bird commonly seen in gardens such as the house sparrow (Passer domesticus
), starling (Sturnus vulgaris
) and song thrush (Turdus philomelos
Participants sent in details of 15,364 nests. The species with the most frequently recorded nest was the blackbird (Turdus merula
) in 66% of gardens, followed by blue tits (Parus caeruleus
) and house sparrows in 44% and 43% of gardens, respectively. The most popular nesting location were nestboxes, with 19.5% of all the nests. This was helped by the strong preference of blue and great tits (Parus major
) for nesting in nestboxes (with 75% and 66% of all their nests in nestboxes, respectively). Hedges were also popular with a number of species, such as the song thrush and dunnock (Prunella modularis
Participants were also invited to take part in Fledgling Count
during June, reporting how many adults and fledglings they saw of five species: blackbird, house sparrow, robin (Erithacus rubecula
), song thrush and starling. Of the five species, blackbird fledglings were the most frequently recorded, in 79% of gardens. Interestingly, the results also show that both starlings and house sparrows had more fledglings per adults in the northern regions of the UK, suggesting that productivity may have been higher further north.