House sparrow takes top spot in record-breaking bird watch survey
THE house sparrow has made it to top spot of a record-breaking bird watch survey in Northern Ireland.
For the fourth year in a row, there were more sightings of the house sparrow than any other bird in the Big Garden Birdwatch survey.
People were asked to count the number of birds that visit their garden to give RSPB scientists insights into how garden birds are faring.
The number of nature lovers who took part in the north rose by a third to 18,500 this year, spotting more than 350,000 birds.
Starlings were the second most spotted, while blackbirds flew up three places to third, followed by blue tits, chaffinch and great tits in sixth place.
Goldfinches dropped from third to eighth, while coal tits regained their place in the top 10, nudging collared doves down to 12th place.
Starlings were the most seen birds in Antrim, Armagh and Down, yet house sparrows were in top spot in Derry and Tyrone and chaffinches number one in Fermanagh.
Katie Gibb from RSPB NI said: "It’s fantastic to see the huge rise in the number of people who took part in the Big Garden Birdwatch across Northern Ireland this year and the enthusiasm that everyone has shown towards it.
"The lockdowns seem to have either started or reignited a love of nature for many people, right on their doorsteps.
"It’s another good year for house sparrows and it’s nice to see the ever-popular blackbirds up into the top three now.
"Some birds have shown declines, though, so this survey is really important as it lets us see how our garden birds are faring."