Back Garden Birds: Britain’s Most Regular Visitors


Back Garden Birds: Britain’s Most Regular Visitors

With more than half a million households involved and 8.5 million birds counted; the RSPB’s Birdwatch 2015 has provided a detailed insight into the most regular winged visitors to Britain’s gardens. The results have demonstrated a number of key changes since 2014’s list and more extreme changes since the first Birdwatch more than 35 years ago.

The blackbird is again the bird found in the highest percentage of gardens, with 91.63% of respondents reporting at least one member of the family in their back garden. An average of 2.753 blackbirds were spotted by each of the half a million respondents in the annual survey.


Robins leapfrogged Blue Tits into second place this year – being spotted in 86.53% of gardens, a big increase from the 73.05% of the previous year. Blue Tits also grew in regularity from 73.52% to 81.55%, demonstrating a very healthy population of all the birds of the top three. The much-loved Robins recorded their highest visitor rate since 2011.

However, there is bad news for a number of species of birds. Song Thrush sightings are at an all-time-low, falling to number 23 on the list of garden visits. The birds were only sighted in 13.36% of all gardens and remain in the RSPB red list.

One of the year’s most dramatic falls was suffered by Greenfinches, dropping by three places due largely to Trichomonas Gallinae. This parasitic disease can be passed through contaminated water and food – making it incredibly important that all bird feeding units in the back garden are kept clean so they are safe for visiting Greenfinches, Chaffinches and other birds affected by the parasite.

One of the least-expected entries on the list was the Snow Bunting – being spotted in one garden on the Isle of Skye. This cold-weather bird seldom ventures outside the Arctic Circle, but braved the relative barmy warmth of the Scottish island – much to the delight of the Ross family who played host. Other rare visitors spotted in the Birdwatch included Little Owls, Skylarks, Waxwings and Corn Buntings.


The Top Ten

Here are the findings of the ten most common birds found in UK gardens. The difference between average appearance and % of gardens visits demonstrates the regional habitats of some species of birds throughout Britain.

Rank Species Average Appearances % of Gardens
1 House Sparrow 4.254 64.58
2 Starling 2.957 43.92
3 Blackbird 2.753 91.63
4 Blue Tit 2.737 81.55
5 Woodpigeon 2.018 70.29
6 Chaffinch 1.445 42.39
7 Robin 1.443 86.53
8 Great Tit 1.399 56.72
9 Goldfinch 1.300 28.38
10 Collared Dove 1.205 47.96


Attracting Birds to Your Garden

The RSPB Birdwatch will return in early 2016 as the organisers look to continue their observation of all bird species in Britain. If you want to take part next year and create a more welcoming environment in your back garden for birds, visit the Capital Gardens Birds and Birds Care section for a great range of foods and installations to attract visitors.


Birds will only visit the garden if there is plenty of food on offer – so make sure your bird feeders are fully-stocked with delicious treats. The RSPB offered regional results (downloadable at the bottom of the graphic) from Birdwatch 2015, so you can check which species of birds are most prevalent in your area – allowing you to pick the birdfeed accordingly.

Alongside the food, it is also important to offer a regular supply of clean water for birds to drink and bathe. This provision is less common than food and bird feeders, so implementing it could put your garden at an advantage over the neighbours’ when attempting to attract bird visitors. Make sure the food and water installations are regularly cleaned to provide an attractive and disease-free space for the birds to land and enjoy.

The installation of nest boxes can also help to attract birds who cannot find a natural home in the area. This can be particularly helpful for homes in built up and urban areas which do not benefit from a high volume of trees and natural bird homes.

It is also important to position nest boxes in shady areas, out of direct sunlight. This will create a healthier, more comfortable environment for the birds to enjoy.

For more help with attracting birds to the garden and a wide range of other back garden installations, call the Capital Gardens team on 01442 875 037 or visit our homepage here.

Image credits: Mark Turner, Gareth Williams, Dirk-Jan van Roest

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