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Gardeners of West Sussex control the future volume of the dawn chorus

Last modified: 26 March 2015

Great tit

Fewer great tits, blue tits and blackbirds were seen in West Sussex's gardens this year

Image: Nigel Blake

The results of January’s Big Garden Birdwatch have highlighted the importance of West Sussex’s gardens to the futures of house sparrows, starlings, blackbirds and tits. 

Sparrows and starlings were put on the red list of species under threat of extinction after losing two thirds of their numbers since the 1970s.

The species top the tables of West Sussex’s most common garden birds, reflecting the importance of private gardens to their future and underlining the impact West Sussex residents can have on the birds’ ability to recover.

House sparrow populations in West Sussex have shown a gentle increase over the past five years, as have starlings. This is encouraging news for these two red-listed species, but their populations remain much lower than they were. Blackbirds have seen a 17 per cent decrease compared with 2010. Great tits have plummeted 13 per cent and blue tits are down 11 per cent.

The RSPB’s Tim Webb said: 'If everyone in the county did one thing in their garden for birds, it would help secure the survival of a whole range of birds and other wildlife. Putting up a nestbox, planting shrubs and hedges or sowing a wildflower patch are simple actions that will increase either food or shelter for struggling birds,' added Tim.

The top 10 most common garden bird species in West Sussex are:

1.    House sparrow

2.    Starling

3.    Blue tit

4.    Woodpigeon

5.    Blackbird

6.    Robin

7.    Great tit

8.    Magpie

9.    Collared dove

10.  Goldfinch 

All of the information comes from families, individuals and schools across the county and provides the RSPB with annual snapshots of the birds of West Sussex. Comparing data with that from previous years helps the RSPB identify conservation needs.

Tim said: 'More people took part this year, giving us some great information, and we’re incredibly grateful. They’ve revealed which birds live in their gardens and that’s information we’d never be able to get by ourselves. Thank you.'

How you can help

Nature in the UK is in trouble and some of our more familiar garden species are amongst those suffering serious declines. We can all help by giving nature a home where we live.