Sparrows on the up but wood pigeon is London's most common garden bird

COCKNEY sparrows saw an increase in sightings in London s gardens this winter, according to the results of an RSPB survey. Nearly 530,000 people took part in the RSPB s Big Garden Birdwatch 2010, counting more than eight-and-a-half million birds. More tha

COCKNEY sparrows saw an increase in sightings in London's gardens this winter, according to the results of an RSPB survey.

Nearly 530,000 people took part in the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch 2010, counting more than eight-and-a-half million birds.

More than 70 species were recorded in 280,000 gardens across the UK over the weekend of 30 and 31 January.

It has helped the conservation charity get an idea of just how the bad weather at the start of the year affected bird populations.


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London's house sparrows have been in decline for many years but 2010 saw a slight increase in sightings.

The winter snow and ice forced small birds such like house sparrows to work harder to find food and gardens, particularly where food was put out for them, were their best bet.

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RSPB spokesman said: "The awful weather had an impact this year and although sightings were generally up in gardens, it could have wiped out thousands of small birds. Our Make Your Nature Count summer survey will give us a better idea of how many survived the snow and ice."

Wood pigeons topped the list, moving up from their number four position in 2007.

Numbers of almost all small to medium birds in the top ten most common London garden birds were up compared with 2009 and 2008, with the exception of starlings.

The RSPB says flocks may have flown out of gardens to collectively seek food and shelter on playing fields, parks and the countryside surrounding London.

The weather was also responsible for many more sightings of countryside birds like redwings and field fares, like the pair spotted in Bethnal Green Gardens in January.

Other members of the thrush family, including blackbird, song thrush and mistle thrush, were seen in higher numbers this year, also looking for food.

Big Garden Birdwatch is the biggest wildlife survey in the world and provides the

RSPB with a fantastic snapshot of how garden birds are faring.

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