In this blog RSPB Scotland's Allie McGregor talks about some of our high flyers who shot up the charts in Scotland during this year's Big Garden Birdwatch.

Movers and shakers: Big Garden Birdwatch 2019

It’s been a week since we announced who made the top of the charts in Scotland during our 2019 Big Garden Birdwatch. Now we want to delve in a little further and seek out some of the interesting results we saw.

While the humble house sparrow held first place for it’s eighth year in a row other species in our top 20 did a bit of a shuffle about as jackdaw, carrion crow, and magpie all snuck up a couple of places in the charts.

Meanwhile, outside the top 20 some species have taken giant leaps in numbers this year…


Flying up 6 spaces into number 29 having been spotted in twice as many gardens as in 2018 is the yellowhammer. These beautiful yellow buntings aren’t very widespread in Scotland, being particularly sparse in the west and north.

Most yellowhammer are residents in Scotland, but some do leave us over the winter months.

yellowhammer perched on a branch


It was a big year for bramblings with an astonishing 149% more seen this year than in 2018. These handsome finches jumped 4 places in the rankings to round out the top 30. Brambling are one of the species with the biggest jump in rank over the last 10 years, sitting 14 spots higher in 2019 than they did in 2009.

Numbers of these winter visitors to the UK can vary from year to year, depending on what tasty treats are available to them.

brambling amongst fallen leaves


Jumping 6 places, fieldfares were seen in 54.4% more gardens than last year. Like brambling, fieldfare are fixtures of our winter wildlife, arriving around October and leaving our shores by about April each year.

Fieldfare are very social and may hang out in flocks of up to several hundred.


A good year for tits

Blue, great, coal, and long-tailed tits all remained in our top 20 in Scotland this year at 4th, 8th, 10th, and 16th. Almost all these lovely species saw an increase in numbers from 2018. 7.3% more blue tits were seen, 13.7% more great tits were seen, and 16.5% more coal tits were seen.

While long-tailed tit numbers did not go up during this year’s Big Garden Birdwatch in Scotland, they were seen in 10% more gardens than back in 2009, which hopefully tells us a positive story overall!

 pair of great tits on a feeder

If you would like to check out all of the 2019 Big Garden Birdwatch results head to