Big Garden Birdwatch: Edinburgh Results

Big Garden Birdwatch 2011 TV ad from The RSPB on Vimeo.

At the end of January 2011, over 600,000 people spent an hour watching and recording the birds in their garden for the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch. Now, it’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for – the results! Which birds did best and how did Edinburgh birds compare to Glasgow City and the UK average? 

First off you’ll be pleased to hear small birds bounced back in comparison to last years survey. Goldcrests (with their cute punk quiff) doubled, long-tailed tits increased by a third and coal tits by a quarter. Blue tits increased 22% and great tits by 12%. 

The most common or ‘top bird’ in the UK and Edinburgh was the house sparrow with an average of 4 per garden. Glasgow City’s top bird was…. the feral pigeon. Now aren’t you glad you live in Edinburgh?  

The second most common bird in the UK and Edinburgh was the blackbird, with so many of them about you do get the occasional nutter bird singing in the middle of the night. In Glasgow City, house sparrows are in the number 2 spot.

Starlings are number 3 for the UK and Glasgow City but strangely in Edinburgh, Starlings are down at number 6 appearing in just a quarter of gardens when compared to the rest of the UK where they appear in half of all gardens. With sparrows and starlings in our top 5 most common birds you might think things are going well for them. Actually, they’re both priority species for conservation. This graph shows you the average number of starlings and house sparrows in UK gardens over the last 15 years, you can see the decline is quite startling. Starling, my darling, where did you go? 


Graph from the RSPB website

Edinburgh City has two birds that don’t feature in the UK top 20, the bullfinch and siskin. In contrast the UK has more wrens and song thrushes then we do in Edinburgh. 2011 was a record year for waxwings and we’re lucky enough to be in a waxwing hotspot, right here in Edinburgh.  


Here are the results for the top 5 birds in the UK, Edinburgh and Glasgow City. You can download the results for the top 20 birds by county here

Big Garden Birdwatch 2011: UK Results

Species                 Average           Rank     % of gardens

House_Sparrow 3.77 1 64.9
Blackbird 3.28 2 96.3
Starling 3.13 3 52.3
Blue_Tit 2.58 4 83.8
Chaffinch 2.19 5 56.5

Big Garden Birdwatch 2011: Edinburgh City

Species                  Average            Rank     % of gardens

House_Sparrow 3.543 1 56.62
Blackbird 2.583 2 88.94
Blue_Tit 2.385 3 79.62
Chaffinch 2.056 4 54.74
Woodpigeon 1.859 5 70.87

Big Garden Birdwatch 2011: Glasgow City

Species                  Average            Rank     % of gardens

Feral_pigeon 3.637 1 56.88
House_Sparrow 3.594 2 58.57
Starling 3.003 3 36.61
Blue_Tit 2.715 4 82.33
Woodpigeon 2.182 5 66.00

If you missed the Big Garden Birdwatch you can listen to our birdwatch in Victoria park (atmospheric with lots of excited whispering in the bushes)


You can read why birds are brilliant in the rest of the Big Garden Birdwatch series: 

Read about this series in the Edinburgh Guardian. Lastly, we did a valentines special on when birds go bad (blackbird torture included)

Written by Emily Dodd