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Where have all the sparrows gone?

ProfilePosted byOptionsPost Date

~~~Secret Red ^^ Squirrel~~~  **007 1/2**

~~~Secret Red ^^ Squirrel~~~ **007 1/2** Report 19 Jun 2008 17:06

I noticed quite a few magpies on the way to work this morning which made me think about the decline of the sparrows?

Where do you think they've gone?


Julie Report 19 Jun 2008 17:08

Not sure but now you come to mention it there have been alot more magpies than usual of late...??!!


AnnCardiff Report 19 Jun 2008 17:08

I get plenty in my garden - unfortunately magpies as well and they are so predatory with regard to smaller birds

Easter Bunny

Easter Bunny Report 19 Jun 2008 17:12

I have about half a dozen sparrows each morning who come for a feed but there used to be a lot more in past years
thought it was just my imagination that there seemed to be a lot of magpies around but if other people have noticed an increase too it must be so.

~~~Secret Red ^^ Squirrel~~~  **007 1/2**

~~~Secret Red ^^ Squirrel~~~ **007 1/2** Report 19 Jun 2008 17:17

There used to be loads of them when I was a child, or is it because I spent so much time outside?

Easter Bunny

Easter Bunny Report 19 Jun 2008 17:18

could it be less hedges to blame?


SheilaWestWilts Report 19 Jun 2008 17:30

This is from the RSPB website :-

Sparrow populations have fluctuated greatly over the centuries, with a gradual decline over the last 100 years. Change from horse-drawn vehicles to motorised ones caused the sparrow population in many cities to drop by two thirds, with the removal of an important food supply - the cereal fed to horses.

Recent declines have been caused by a combination of reduced plant food in winter, reduced insect availability for chicks, and reduction in available nest sites. On farmland, these are attributed to changes in agricultural practices.

Housing of livestock in inaccessible buildings, mechanisation of grain harvest and more effective storage of grain and animal feeds all reduced sparrows access to food. Recent cereal hygiene regulations mean that farm buildings are sealed, and therefore offer fewer nesting sites.

In towns lack of food and nest sites are contributing to the decline, but we do not yet fully understand the decline.

In the 1950s, the UK house sparrow population was estimated at 9.5 million. They increased to 12 million by the early 1970s, then declined. The population crashed during the 1990s. Over 25 years the population has declined by 62%. Because of this decline in numbers, the house sparrow is now red listed as a species of high conservation concern.


Eldrick Report 19 Jun 2008 17:34

The RSPB refuse to accept that the increase in raptors and corvids has anything to do with the decline in songbird populations.

Here, we have NO magpies and very few carrion crows. We have lots of sparrows and other songbirds :-)


Jane Report 19 Jun 2008 17:39

Magpies and crows or rooks(I never know which is which) seem to have taken over.We still have sparrows ,robins ,blackbirds 'finches little baby wrens and a woodpecker.
We have a large garden so you can imagine the Dawn Chorus!!!!!!!!


Eldrick Report 19 Jun 2008 17:43

More than 2 crows and they are rooks...a rook by itself is a crow!

Rooks have 'baggy trousers' :-)


SheilaWestWilts Report 19 Jun 2008 18:00

Jackdaws have got greyish heads - and they sit on our chimney and make a racket!


Kathryn Report 19 Jun 2008 18:18

Know what you mean about the noise, thinking of signing them up with Simon Cowell and calling them Birds Alive

Purple **^*Sparkly*^** Diamond

Purple **^*Sparkly*^** Diamond Report 20 Jun 2008 02:49

We have a few sparrows come in to feed from the bird table and garden, also blackbirds who are nesting in the hedge. We haven't seen any more of our bluetits who raised 6 babies and they all left the bird box safely. We have lots of starlings nesting in the eaves and lots of collared doves, blooming things. Also some magpies and a robin too.
I love all the birds, there are skylarks out in the field at the bottom of the garden, the field is full of wheat this year, some years beet, one year potatoes which the farmer told me were a certain kind destined to become Pringles.


Barrie Report 20 Jun 2008 02:59

Two of the UK's best-known birds - house sparrows and starlings - are in serious decline with millions of birds lost, according to government-commissioned research.
Cats, modern farming methods and new house designs are among the factors being blamed for the population falls.

Everyone loves the cockney sparrow

Humphrey Crick
Report co-author

The study by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) suggests more than 20 million birds have been lost in the last 25 years.

The population of house sparrows has dropped from 12 million pairs to seven million, a decline Environment Minister Michael Meacher said was very worrying.

The fall is worst in south-east England, Mr Meacher told BBC Radio 4's Today programme, while numbers have been rising in Scotland and Wales.

Falling food supplies

Starling numbers have dropped from 20 million to 8.5 million since the 1970s, says the survey.

"The major cause of decline in the case of starlings is the reduction of young starlings surviving the first year," he said.

That was probably a result of diminishing food supplies.

But numbers had fallen by two-thirds on farmland, said Mr Meacher.

"We have long suspected, and the research confirms, that the decline of starlings is closely related to changes in agricultural practice, such as the increased use of pesticides and the loss of pasture and unimproved grassland which has reduced food sources available to birds."

Causes of decline
Modern farming methods
Sealed roof cavities
Less loose grain
Growing cat numbers
The lack of hedgerows and unimproved pastures had hit birds in the countryside, while air pollution was causing problems in urban areas.

Mike Toms, from the BTO, said house sparrows in suburban areas had been hit by changes to house designs.

Birds could no longer get access to roof cavities to build their nests, Mr Toms told Today.

Feline threat?

The trust is now launching a house sparrow appeal.

Thursday's report says a study of a village in rural Bedfordshire suggested one of four pairs of sparrows in the village may have been hurt by cats.

"Cat predation is also likely to account for a large proportion of the juvenile mortality in the village," the report says.

An increase in the numbers of sparrowhawks, which were hit by pesticides in the 1970s, is another factor.

And in 2001, 16,000 house sparrows were killed legally by farmers.

Building on brownfield sites and cleaner streets are also identified in the report as other factors.

Wake-up call

In rural areas, farming methods and sealed grain barns are seen as the main factors.

Humphrey Crick, one of the report's authors, said he was not surprised the exact cause of the decline in towns had yet to be discovered.

"People have ignored towns as a habitat for so long," Dr Crick told the Independent.

"People are only just waking up to the fact that towns are an important place for wildlife as well as people.

"We should now be able to find the exact causes."

Dr Crick said sparrows were very popular - "everyone loves the cockney sparrow" - but their decline could point to other damage to the environment.

"It may be just the sparrow but it may not," he told BBC News. "It may be affecting a whole range of factors and possibly ultimately us."

The latest research follows concern about falls in numbers of garden song birds, such as song thrushes and blackbirds in recent years