Starling ISTYNE and Wear's top bird... despite falling numbers.
Byline: TONY HENDERSON @Hendrover
THE results are in from more than 11,000 observers in the North East who took part in the RSPB's 40th anniversary Big Garden Birdwatch. That includes over 4,850 people in Tyne and Wear who joined in the watch, which took place in the last weekend in January, with the number of participants across the country nearing half-a-million, counting more than 7.5million birds in total.
The top bird in Tyne and Wear was the starling, despite numbers dropping by two-thirds since the survey began.
The house sparrow, whose population since the Big Garden Birdwatch began in 1979 has fallen by over half, was second in Tyne and Wear, and top in Northumberland and County Durham.
In recent years, national numbers have slowly started to rise again, giving conservationists hope that at least a partial recovery may be happening.
It was the survey which alerted the RSPB to the decline in song thrush numbers. This species was a firm fixture in the top 10 in 1979 but in 2009, numbers were less than half those recorded 30 years earlier; it came in at 25th in Tyne and Wear rankings this year, 27th in Northumberland and 21st in County Durham.
The Tyne and Wear top 10 was: starling; house sparrow; blackbird; woodpigeon; blue tit; goldfinch; magpie; feral pigeon; great tit and robin.
Annabel Rushton, from the RSPB in Northern England, said: "It's incredible to see that so many people across the region 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 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."
In Northumberland, where almost 4,000 people took part, the top 10 was: house sparrow; starling; blue tit; blackbird; chaffinch; woodpigeon; great tit; goldfinch; jackdaw; coal tit.
In County Durham, with over 3,100 participants, birds in the top 10 were: house sparrow; starling; blackbird; blue tit; woodpigeon; jackdaw; goldfinch; chaffinch; great tit; robin.
Throughout the first half of the spring term, pupils also took part in the RSPB's Big Schools Birdwatch survey of school grounds - and in Tyne and Wear, gulls ruled the roost.
The Tyne and Wear schools' top 10 was: blackbird; black-headed gull; magpie; woodpigeon; carrion crow; jackdaw; common gull; herring gull; blue tit; feral pigeon.
Northumberland: house sparrow; blackbird; starling; jackdaw; carrion crow; black-headed gull; blue tit; woodpigeon; robin; chaffinch.
County Durham: blackbird; woodpigeon; feral pigeon; house sparrow; great tit; blue tit; starling; carrion crow; magpie; robin.
<B Magpie Pica pica
<B Robin Erithacus rubecula
<B Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis
<B Blue tit Parus caeruleus and Great tit Parus major