Starling numbers startling!

Around 30,000 people took part in this year’s Big Garden Birdwatch in Wales, counting over 500,000 birds.

However, despite the high number of recorded birds, one familiar visitor is on the rapid decrease.  The numbers of starlings visiting our gardens are at an all time low, and the survey shows that the species has declined by 60% in the past 16 years alone.  The survey was first introduced in 1979, where the average recorded number of starlings seen was 15, this year it was a mere 4.  Now RSPB experts are investigating possible reasons why the species has suffered such a decrease, with factors such as feeding habits and changes beneath the soil, which could reduce the number of insects available for them to eat.

The news is similar across the rest of northern Europe sadly, which explains why fewer starlings are visiting the UK during the winter months.  The results of this year’s survey have prompted the species to be red listed as a bird of high conservation concern.   Murmurations of starlings have also declined, despite the displays sometimes consisting of over 100,000 birds. 

In other news, goldfinches have increased in Wales, rising to 8th place.  The survey features huge increases for blue tits and great tits.  The species’ enjoyed an 87% and 144% increase respectively since the first survey in 1979.  This could be due to the high number of garden feeders available for them to survive the winter months, as well as steady levels of hedge/woodland management, which essentially provide more nest sites.

  • Although the numbers visiting gardens this winter is just cause for concern, and the red listing status, I think that the actual numbers may not be as bad as it seems, at least in my local area.

    Numbers at the Newport Wetlands roost this winter seemed to be stable or even increased over the last two winters.

    Hopefully the lack of garden birds is due to the very mild winter this year, resulting in birds not needing to come into gardens due to the availability of natural food.

    I noticed that my local area's bushes still had berries on them at the end of march which is highly unusual to say the least

    It is obviously vital that numbers of Starling and other "common" species is monitored, but one year can give a confused result

    Best regards

    | My Images |  Newport Wetlands on Flickr @barman58

  • i have just uploaded a picture of the starlings we have here in our village of bronllys in breconshire roughly about at least 100 swooping around and landing in the trees and fields behind our garden we had loads in the garden feeding of f the porige oats we put down to

    flying by