Garden a haven for disappearing birds
GARDENS in Barking and Dagenham remain a sanctuary for the disappearing starling and house sparrow, the UK s largest bird survey has revealed. More than eight starlings and seven sparrows were found in each borough garden, compared to just three of each
GARDENS in Barking and Dagenham remain a sanctuary for the disappearing starling and house sparrow, the UK's largest bird survey has revealed.
More than eight starlings and seven sparrows were found in each borough garden, compared to just three of each species in the rest of the country, according to the Big Garden Birdwatch of January 24-25.
Bird expert Julian Nash, 40, said Barking and Dagenham was a foothold for the sparrow, which is thought to have been driven away by loss of habitats and food, and starlings, which have been hit by changing farming practices.
The Rainham Marshes warden said families unwittingly turned gardens into nature reserves, as national figures showed house sparrow populations had dropped 69 per cent and those of the starling by 79 per cent, since the first survey in 1979.
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Mr Nash, of Weston Road, Dagenham, said: "Dagenham has got quite good gardens. Whole gardens have become nature reserves.
"They're not necessarily actually doing much for birds, but they're keeping gardens with grass lawns and shrubs that give homes for these creatures. It's almost like an ecosystem."
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The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, which oversaw the survey with 500,000 birdwatchers taking part, said Barking and Dagenham residents "love nature".
Mr Nash praised householders, but encouraged them to install nesting boxes to keep birds that are unable to create homes on roofs modernised with plastic rather than wooden structures.
He said: "Our borough is really quite important for house sparrows. I used to look at it and say 'it's only a house sparrow, its boring'.
"They're now much more important because lots have disappeared. A lot more people are beginning to appreciate the humble sparrow."
Wood pigeons are the third most common borough bird, followed by collared doves, blue tits, blackbirds, magpies, feral pigeons, robins and great tits.
In the UK, house sparrows were first, starlings second, blackbirds third, blue tits fourth, followed by chaffinchs, wood pigeons, collared doves, great tits, robins and long-tailed tits.