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House sparrows hold on to the Big Garden Birdwatch number one spot in Northern Ireland - RSPB

House sparrows remain the most-spotted birds in Northern Ireland’s gardens and green spaces, according to the latest results from the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch.
Now in its 41st year, the Big Garden Birdwatch is a chance for people of all ages to count the number of birds that visit their garden - helping the RSPB build up a picture of how they are doing. This year, almost half a million people across the UK - including just under 14,000 people in Northern Ireland - took part counting nearly eight million birds.
The top five in Northern Ireland consisted of house sparrows, starlings, goldfinches (up one place), chaffinches (down one place) and blue tits. Robins and magpies both hopped up a spot this year, into seventh and eighth spots, respectively.
There were some differences across the counties in Northern Ireland. While Down and Tyrone both had the same top two (house sparrows followed by starlings), starlings were the most-spotted birds in counties Antrim, Armagh and Derry-Londonderry – ahead of house sparrows – while Fermanagh’s number one bird was the chaffinch, just as it was in 2019.

The Birdwatch, held over the last weekend in January, showed that smaller birds including long-tailed tits, wrens and coal tits were seen in greater numbers in gardens than in 2019 thanks to the milder winter. Across the UK as a whole, house sparrows remained at number one.

Over its four decades, the Big Garden Birdwatch has highlighted the winners and losers in the garden bird world. It was first to alert the RSPB to the decline in song thrush numbers. This species was a firm fixture in the top 10 in 1979. By 2009, its numbers were less than half those recorded in 1979, it came in at 20th in the rankings this year, seen in just 9% of gardens.

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