With the results for Big Garden Birdwatch 2018 in RSPB Scotland’s Jess Barrett takes a closer look at some of the birds that hopped up the rankings this year.

Top of the flocks: who’s flown up the Big Garden Birdwatch chart

The Big Garden Birdwatch results are in for 2018 and have revealed that an incredible 29,362 people took part across Scotland and counted 521,428 birds – that’s over half a million of our feathered friends spotted during counting hours!

Last year’s top three stayed put on their perch positions with chaffinches third, starlings keeping their silver spot and house sparrows remaining at the top of the count. That means that house sparrows have topped the Big Garden Birdwacth results here for seven years in a row.

Elsewhere in the top 20 other birds hopped about, with some swapping places, while others flew in from lower down in last year’s rankings. Here’s some of those who moved up in this year’s results:


Siskins were the biggest movers in this year’s top 20 – they flew up six places to just make it in at number 19 with a huge 93 percent increase in the number recorded from 2017. The cold weather in the run up to the weekend may have played a part in this with the birds on the move due to the lower temperatures.

Siskins are greeny-yellow coloured members of the finch family. Outside of the breeding season they are incredible social birds and will form large flocks during winter months. Keep an eye out for their gymnastic feeding habits – like tits you can often see them hanging upside down on a branch or twig to reach food.


These colourful birds with their bright red faces and yellow barred wings are a favourite spot for many people in their gardens. A flock of them is known as a charm while they have a distinctive trilling song.

They hopped up two places in 2018 to land at number seven with a 14 percent increase in sightings this year and appeared in over a third of gardens that took part. If you’re looking to tempt goldfinches into your garden they are known to be big fans of niger seeds and sunflower hearts.

Long-tailed tits

The wee pompom like long-tailed tit also jumped up a couple of places to number 12 in this year’s results as sightings of them rose by 16 percent. Many of you may remember the 2016 results which saw a huge increase in the number of these birds counted and they’ve continued to creep up the rankings since then.

These tiny round birds are about 14cm long of which 9cm is tail so are named very appropriately! You may have spotted them over the last few months is large groups with other birds as families will flock together over winter and hang around with other tits and warblers.


Rounding off the top 20 for this year is one of our smallest birds; the wren. Its one place move upwards took it into top 20 and they were seen in 23 per cent of gardens taking part. Was yours one of them?

While they can appear a bit dumpy their short, small tails often stick upwards making them very distinctive. They also have a very loud song! There are many subspecies of wren, five of which are found in Scotland including ones that are distinct to the Outer Hebrides, St Kilda, Shetland and Fair Isle.

If you’d like to find out more about Big Garden Birdwatch click here, while there’s more on the Scottish results here. Keep an eye out for the results of the other wildlife survey later this year.