MARCH 27, 2008: Garden bird numbers are at their lowest levels in five years, althoughthe number of finches visiting UK gardens is the highest for fiveyears, according to the 2008 Big Garden Birdwatch, carried out by theRoyal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).

Garden bird numbers have declined by a fifth since 2004, although four species of finch have increased in numbers, with the brambling moving from 57 to 36 in the rankings, and the redpoll being seen in twice as many gardens this year as last.The goldfinch made it into the top 10 for the first time, with a third more birds recorded this year than in 2004.Dr Andre Farrar of the RSPB said: ‘We’re seeing numbers of goldfinches swell because our milder winters encourage them to stay here instead of going to southern Europe. Our gardens can be very welcoming to finches.’The song thrush’s numbers are up by 80 per cent year on year, but overall, numbers have fallen by nearly 70 per cent in the past 30 years.The house sparrow kept the top spot, with an average of 3.6 spotted per garden – although again, overall numbers have fallen by 64 per cent in the past 30 years.Big Garden Birdwatch is the world’s biggest bird survey, and it took place over the weekend of 26-27 January 2008, with 400,000 people counting a total of six million birds in 228,000 gardens across the UK.

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