Finches are taking to London like ducks to water

Greenfinches have taken to London like ducks to water with a staggering 139 per cent increase in their population in the capital over the past 14 years. Their cousins, the chaffinch and bird-table neighbours, the great tits, have also done well but the

Greenfinches have taken to London like ducks to water with a staggering 139 per cent increase in their population in the capital over the past 14 years.

Their cousins, the chaffinch and bird-table neighbours, the great tits, have also done well but there is ongoing concern for house sparrows, starlings and blackbirds.

The findings come from the latest BTO/JNCC/RSPB Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) for 2007 and comparing that data with results from the first BBS study, conducted in 1994. Nearly 3,000 volunteer birdwatchers got up very early in the morning to take part in the annual Breeding Bird Survey in 2007, and counted over a million individual birds of 220 species throughout the UK.

Commenting on the results in London the RSPB's Tim Webb said: "This survey shows long term trends and should not be taken as an indication that all is rosy in the Capital's bird world. Yes, numbers of finches are up long term but the past couple of years have seen them suffer from the disease Trichomoniasis. This is passed on by a parasite that causes throat swelling, resulting in birds starving to death. Our traditionally common birds are also declining in number. The RSPB's Homes for Wildlife campaign addresses some of the issues, we'll be relying on individuals to help us address both declining bird numbers and the wider threat posed by climate change."


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London's house sparrow population continues to show a downward trend with a drop of 68% between 1994 and 2007. Starlings and blackbirds are also down. Climate change, development and the continuing need for housing have had an impact on insect numbers in London. Insects are an important part of the diet of all three declining bird species.

Outside London, the BBS2007 study put woodland birds at the top of the UK list of declining species. It shows that Wood Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Pied Flycatcher and Willow Tit have all declined by over 50% across the UK since the start of the survey in 1994.

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Kate Risely, Breeding Bird Survey National Organiser with the BTO said: "This valuable information about our breeding birds comes directly from the 3,000 volunteers who take part in the Breeding Bird Survey. Taking part in surveys like the BBS is a fantastic way for people to make a real contribution to bird conservation.

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