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Feather in cap for house sparrow; BIRD SURVEY: RSPB's Big Garden Watch shows the most popular visitors to Cardiff.

THE humble house sparrow is the most popular garden bird in Cardiff, taking the top spot in the RSPB's 2002 Big Garden Birdwatch.

Runner-up in the Welsh capital was the starling with bluetits in third place.

The Big Garden Birdwatch, which took place during the last weekend in January, asked participants to spend one hour counting the birds in their garden, school grounds or local park, and to record the highest number of each species seen at any one time.

The RSPB had hoped to double the 52,000 people who took part in 2001, however, an amazing 262,000 - including 41,000 children, braved the harsh winter weather to spend an hour watching the birds in their gardens. Five times as many people took part in Wales than previous years and hundreds of people across Cardiff participated.

Ruth Billingham, RSPB Cymru said, "We are over the moon that so many people took part in the survey, which every year tracks the fortunes of our top garden birds.

"More than a quarter of a million people took part in the survey - around four times as many as will be at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff to watch this year's FA Cup Final between Arsenal and Chelsea. It's a fantastic response and demonstrates how much interest people have in the birds around them."

An average of 4.9 house sparrows per garden were recorded in Wales, narrowly ahead of the blue-tit, with an average of 4.4 per garden.

The great-tit jumps from eighth to sixth place, while the jackdaw, who took tenth place last year, has dropped out of the top 15 birds in Wales.

The RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch, is the UK's biggest and longest running annual garden bird survey. It began in 1979, and is now in its 24th year.

The bird charity's next garden bird fixture is Nestwatch UK (part of the RSPB's annual Wake Up To Birds Week) from May 25-31.

This survey will record nesting garden birds and their behaviour.

To take part in Nestwatch UK, ring 0870 601 0215 or write to:

Wake Up To Birds Week, RSPB, Somers House, Somers Road, Reigate, Surrey, RH2 9DU.

Alternatively, the survey form will be available on the RSPB's website at rspb. org. uk/nestwatch

Top 10

THE top 10 birds in Wales recorded during the 2002 Big Garden Birdwatch were:

1 House sparrow 2 Bluetit 3 Chaffinch 4 Starling 5 Blackbird 6 Great 7 Greenfinch 8 Robin 9 Collared dove 10 Coal tit UK results for the top 10 birds in the 2002 Big Garden Birdwatch survey:

1 Starling 2 House sparrow 3 Bluetit 4 Blackbird 5 Chaffinch 6 Greenfinch 7 Collared 8 Great tit 9 Wood pigeon 10 Robin
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Apr 30, 2002
Words:454
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