Big Garden Birdwatch 2024 – Results in East Sussex

Between 26th – 28th January 2024, something truly remarkable occurred – over 610,000 individuals across the nation paused their daily routines to dedicate an hour to observing birds in their garden or nearby green spaces.

This year, an astounding 9.7 million birds were recorded nationwide. Now that RSPB scientists have meticulously sifted through the data, we’re thrilled to unveil the champions and contenders of Big Garden Birdwatch 2024.

Let’s take a look at the top species observed in our local area of East Sussex:

Number 10. Feral Pigeon

Rock Pigeon/Feral Pigeon

The Feral Pigeon was noted as #10 for East Sussex in the Big Garden Birdwatch and had seen a 10% decrease in numbers since 2023!

Feral pigeons, also known as city pigeons or street pigeons, are common urban birds found throughout the United Kingdom and many other parts of the world. These pigeons are descendants of domestic pigeons that have adapted to living in urban environments. They are highly adaptable birds and are often seen roosting on buildings, bridges, and other structures, as well as foraging for food in parks, streets, and squares.

Feral pigeons vary in color but are typically gray with iridescent patches on their necks and wings. They have stout bodies, short legs, and strong, hooked bills adapted for foraging on a variety of foods. Feral pigeons are omnivorous and will eat a wide range of items, including seeds, grains, insects, scraps of food discarded by humans, and even small invertebrates.

Despite their often-negative reputation due to concerns about hygiene and urban nuisances, feral pigeons are an integral part of urban ecosystems and have adapted well to living alongside humans. They are also a familiar sight to city dwellers and are sometimes even appreciated for their beauty and resilience in the face of urban challenges.

Number 9. Jackdaw

Jackdaw

The Jackdaw has seen a significant decrease of 2.5% in East Sussex since 2023.

The Jackdaw is a small and highly intelligent member of the crow family found throughout the United Kingdom and much of Europe. It’s easily recognizable by its sleek black plumage, gray nape, and distinctive pale eyes. Jackdaws are commonly seen in a variety of habitats, including woodlands, farmland, urban areas, and coastal cliffs.

Jackdaws are social birds and often form large, noisy flocks, particularly during the non-breeding season. They are highly adaptable and opportunistic feeders, consuming a diverse range of foods such as insects, seeds, grains, fruits, and scraps. They are also known to cache food for later consumption.

In addition to their foraging behavior, Jackdaws are known for their vocalizations, which include a variety of calls and vocal mimicry. They are particularly vocal during the breeding season, when males perform elaborate displays to attract mates.

Jackdaws are cavity nesters, often nesting in tree hollows, cliffs, and man-made structures such as buildings and chimneys. They are known to compete with other bird species, including other members of the crow family, for nesting sites and food resources.

Overall, jackdaws are common and widespread throughout the UK and are a familiar sight in both rural and urban environments. Their adaptability, intelligence, and sociable nature make them an intriguing and often welcome presence in the British countryside.

Number 8. Great Tit

Great Tit

The Great Tit had seen a 3% decrease in numbers overall since the Big Garden Birdwatch of 2023 in East Sussex.

The Great Tit is a charismatic and widespread bird species found throughout the UK and much of Europe. It is one of the largest species in the tit family, easily recognizable by its bold black and yellow plumage, with a striking black stripe down its chest. Great Tits are common visitors to gardens, parks, woodlands, and urban areas across the UK.

Great Tits are highly adaptable birds with a varied diet that includes insects, seeds, nuts, berries, and occasionally small vertebrates. They are often seen foraging acrobatically in trees and bushes, using their sharp bills to probe for food.

In addition to their foraging behavior, Great Tits are known for their loud and melodious songs, which are particularly prominent during the breeding season in spring. Both males and females sing to establish territories and attract mates.

The Great Tit’s adaptability to various habitats and readiness to use nest boxes and bird feeders make them a familiar and beloved sight for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts across the country.

Number 7. Magpie

Magpie

The mighty Magpie has seen a 1.3% decrease in numbers in East Sussex since the 2023 Big Garden Birdwatch.

The Magpie is a striking and intelligent bird species found throughout the UK, known for its distinctive black and white plumage and long tail. Magpies are often seen in a variety of habitats, including woodlands, parks, gardens, and urban areas.

Magpies are opportunistic feeders with a varied diet that includes insects, small mammals, birds, eggs, fruits, seeds, and scraps. They are also known to be scavengers, readily feeding on carrion and food waste.

While magpies are relatively common and widespread, fluctuations in their populations occur due to various factors, including changes in habitat, predation, disease, and competition with other bird species.

Monitoring changes in magpie populations, such as the decrease observed since 2023, is important for understanding broader trends in bird populations and ecosystems. Initiatives like the Big Garden Birdwatch will help to track these changes and provide valuable data for conservation efforts aimed at protecting magpies and other bird species in the UK.

Number 6. Robin

Robin

The magnificent Robin has done well and seen an increase of 3.0% overall in East Sussex since 2023’s Big Garden Birdwatch.

The Robin is a beloved and iconic bird species in the UK, known for its striking red breast and friendly demeanor. Robins are a common sight in gardens, parks, woodlands, and hedgerows throughout the UK, and they are often associated with the festive season due to their appearance on Christmas cards.

Robins are territorial birds, and both males and females can be aggressive in defending their territories, especially during the breeding season. Their melodious songs are a familiar sound in gardens and woodlands, particularly in the early morning and late evening.

In terms of diet, robins are omnivorous, feeding on a variety of foods such as insects, worms, fruits, seeds, and suet. They are often seen foraging on the ground, using their sharp bills to probe the soil for invertebrates or to pick up fallen fruits and seeds.

The increase in robin numbers is encouraging and may be attributed to various factors, including habitat management, conservation efforts, and favorable environmental conditions. Monitoring their populations through initiatives like the Big Garden Birdwatch helps track trends and inform conservation strategies aimed at protecting these beloved birds for future generations to enjoy.

Number 5. Blackbird

Blackbird

The beautiful blackbird has seen a very significant decrease in East Sussex of 4.3% since the Big Garden Birdwatch of 2023.

While they are adaptable and common in gardens, parks, woodlands, and urban areas throughout the UK, declines in their numbers can have various causes, including habitat loss, changes in climate, and predation.

Blackbirds are prevalent in a variety of habitats, including gardens, parks, woodlands, and urban areas. They are known for their beautiful and melodious songs, particularly during the breeding season in spring and early summer. Male blackbirds often sing from prominent perches to establish territories and attract mates.

In terms of diet, blackbirds are omnivorous, feeding on a wide range of foods such as insects, worms, fruits, berries, and seeds. They are often seen foraging on the ground, using their sharp bills to probe the soil for invertebrates or to pluck fruits and berries from shrubs and trees.

Number 4. Wood Pigeon

Wood Pigeon

The humble Wood Pigeon had seen a 0.2% decline in numbers since 2023’s Big Garden Birdwatch.

The wood pigeon is a large and widespread bird species found throughout the UK and much of Europe. Being one of the most common pigeons within the region, it is easily recognisable by its size, with a plump body and long tail. Wood pigeons have predominantly gray plumage, with subtle iridescent patches on their necks and wings, and white markings on their necks and wingtips.

Wood pigeons are primarily found in woodlands, parks, gardens, farmland, and urban areas, where they feed on a variety of plant matter such as seeds, grains, fruits, and buds. They are known for their distinctive “cooing” calls, especially during the breeding season in spring and summer.

Despite being widespread and abundant, wood pigeon populations have faced some fluctuations and pressures, including changes in land use, habitat loss, and hunting. However, they are generally considered to be a species of least concern in terms of conservation status, and their adaptability to a range of habitats has helped sustain their populations.

In the UK, wood pigeons are a familiar sight in both rural and urban environments, where they can often be seen foraging on the ground or perched in trees or on rooftops. They are also frequent visitors to garden bird feeders, where they may compete with other bird species for food.

Number 3. Starling

Starling

The striking Starling has seen a 1.4% increase in sightings overall since the Big Garden Birdwatch of 2023 in East Sussex, which is brilliant news!

The Starling is a medium-sized, highly gregarious bird native to the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe, Asia, and North Africa. It’s characterised by its iridescent black plumage with white speckles, especially during the breeding season, when it develops a glossy sheen. Starlings are known for their remarkable murmurations, where large flocks twist and turn in unison, creating mesmerizing aerial displays.

In the UK, starlings are a common sight in both urban and rural areas, often gathering in large flocks to forage for food in fields, gardens, and parks. They have a varied diet that includes insects, fruits, seeds, and scraps, making them adaptable to a wide range of habitats.

While starlings were once among the most numerous birds in the UK, their populations have experienced significant declines in recent decades, particularly in urban areas. Loss of nesting sites, changes in agricultural practices, and a decline in insect populations are among the factors contributing to their decline.

Despite these challenges, starlings remain a familiar sight in many parts of the UK, and efforts to conserve and protect their populations are ongoing.

Number 2. Blue Tit

Blue Tit

The beautiful Blue Tit has seen a 4% rise in numbers since the Big Garden Birdwatch in 2023 in East Sussex!

The blue tit is a small and colourful bird native to the United Kingdom and much of Europe. It’s easily recognisable by its vibrant blue, yellow, and white plumage, with a distinctive blue cap on its head. Blue tits are common visitors to gardens, woodlands, parks, and hedgerows throughout the UK.

Blue tits are highly adaptable birds and are known for their acrobatic behavior as they flit through trees and bushes in search of insects, seeds, and berries. They are cavity nesters, meaning they often build their nests in tree holes, nest boxes, or other small spaces, and they are known to readily use bird feeders stocked with seeds and suet during the winter months.

The population of blue tits in the UK is generally stable, as they are one of the most commonly spotted birds in the annual Big Garden Birdwatch, and their widespread distribution and adaptability to various habitats make them a familiar and beloved sight for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts across the country.

Number 1. House Sparrow

House Sparrow

And finally, our #1 bird in the Big Garden Birdwatch 2024 for East Sussex was the humble House Sparrow, seeing a 3.6% increase in sightings since 2023

The house sparrow is a small bird native to the UK and much of Europe, Asia, and parts of North Africa. Historically, it was a common sight in urban and rural areas throughout the UK, often found nesting in buildings, gardens, and parks. However, the population of house sparrows has declined significantly in recent decades, leading to concerns about their conservation status.

Several factors are thought to have contributed to the decline of house sparrows in the UK, including changes in agricultural practices, loss of nesting sites due to urban development, pollution, and changes in food availability. Additionally, increased predation by cats and other predators may also have played a role in their decline.

Efforts to conserve house sparrows in the UK have included initiatives to provide suitable nesting sites, such as nest boxes, and to create wildlife-friendly habitats in urban and suburban areas. Despite ongoing conservation efforts, the population of house sparrows in the UK remains lower than in the past, and they are now considered a species of conservation concern. However, localised increases in populations such as East Sussex, demonstrate the potential for habitat management and conservation efforts to support their recovery.

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