In Londonderry starlings swooped into poll position in the Big Garden Birdwatch after being spotted in 75 per cent of gardens, closely followed by house sparrows, which were top of the tree here in 2014.
That’s according to the RSPB who have released the results of what it bills as the world’s biggest wildlife survey.
House sparrows remain amber-listed (of medium conservation concern) in Ireland, so seeing so many in local gardens proves what an important habitat this is.
It was good news too for the beloved robin which seems to have bounced back from a difficult 2014 to take seventh place.
However, local results also reveal a fall in the number of some species recorded this year.
Great tits dropped down the pecking order by one place to eighth position and coal tits fell out of the top 10 altogether.
Amy Colvin from RSPB NI commented: “During winter, birds need extra food and water, a safe place to shelter and make their home. Gardens providing these things are an invaluable resource for birds and are likely to have a significant effect on their numbers, perhaps even playing a pivotal role in reversing some declines.
“We hope Big Garden Birdwatch has helped people understand how birds rely on our gardens, and has encouraged them to take steps to give nature a home all year round.”
Amy added: “It’s particularly encouraging to see so many schools in Derry/Londonderry getting involved in the survey and local schoolchildren and their teachers are doing a great job giving nature a home in their playgrounds.”
In Londonderry almost 1,500 children took time out of the classroom to see which birds pay a visit to their playgrounds. Hooded crows were spotted most often by eagle-eyed pupils, followed by jackdaws and blackbirds.
The RSPB’s Youth and Education Manager, Jess McVicar, added: “During this year’s Big Schools’ Birdwatch we were delighted by the huge response from nursery, primary and secondary schools across Northern Ireland.
“All the children taking part had the chance to count the birds in their school grounds, find out about what they saw, and look at some trends using our website resources.
“It’s wonderful to see the enthusiasm and excitement of those taking part – whether they see a red kite or a blackbird.”
Big Garden Birdwatch and Big Schools’ Birdwatch are a part of the RSPB’s Giving Nature a Home campaign, aimed at tackling the housing crisis facing the UK’s threatened wildlife.
The charity is asking people to provide a place for wildlife in their own gardens and outside spaces – whether it’s putting up a nest box for birds, creating a pond to support a number of different species or building a home for a hedgehog.
To find out how you can give nature a home where you live visit rspb.org.uk/homes