Where have all the sparrows gone?

Here’s my latest column for the Highgate Handbook and Muswell Hill Flyer:

A tiger stared out at me from the pages of a Sunday newspaper recently. ‘What will you do after I have gone?’ was the line printed over the appeal to adopt a tiger. Malu Lothi is the name of ‘my’ tiger. I couldn’t bare the idea that these beautiful, beautiful animals might die out and any grandchildren of mine would never have the opportunity to see such magnificent creatures.

However, we have a looming disaster right here on our own doorsteps – because our bird population is dwindling rapidly due to the loss of habitat. Remembering the old adage – charity begins at home –I therefore put up a bird box in my garden to kick-start National Nest Box Week recently.

Haringey’s birds need homes if we are to stop the rapid decline in their numbers. I put up the box to try and inspire others to do same. And at a local meeting last week I met a local residents (taking it even further) who is making a bird box to put in his Highgate garden. Hurrah! But one isn’t enough!

Haringey’s birdlife has dropped drastically in diversity and numbers over the past thirty years and we need lots and lots of local people to put up bird boxes in their gardens too. It’s quick, easy – and helping birds in your own garden isn’t just about the greater good, as it also makes your own garden nicer too. No hair shirts required for this good deed!

The house sparrow was once one of Haringey’s most common garden birds, but according to the results of last year’s RSPB Great Garden Bird Watch survey sighting of it have dropped by 80% reduction in the last 30 years.

I am going to be following the latest developments in Haringey’s bird count and will be announcing the local results of the RSPB survey later this month. Meanwhile, anyone wanting to find out more about how to fit a bird box should visit the National Nest Box Week website.

Loss of habitat and lack of food is really the reason why we see fewer birds in our gardens. So putting up a nest box in your garden is really the best and easiest way to help Haringey’s feathered friends.

If I can – you can!

0 thoughts on “Where have all the sparrows gone?

  1. Lynne -The short answer is that they’ve all come here, to rural Shalford near Guildford !Sue and I are active RSPB members, and put out daily food for ground-feedingand tree-feeding birds. Our last count was 6 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, at least12 Goldfinches, 4 Nuthatches, more Great Tits and Blue Tits than we could count,ditto Blackbirds, at least 6 wrens, 4 aggressive robins, about a dozen thrushes, anda good dozen sparrows. All of which I can see from 1 metre distance from whereI am emailing this.Trouble is, we have also attracted a sparrowhawk too…..Joking apart, the feeling from my Lib Dem deliverers locally is that the sparrowpopulation has indeed increased recently, and that the number of wild woodland birds(such as the woodpeckers) has remained much the same. So maybe – andhopefully – the sparrows are merely mimicking human behaviour and moving outto more rural areas ?Best wishes meanwhileDavid

  2. It seems sparrow numbers are dwindling due to a general loss of trees and people converting their front gardens into parking areas.Putting up birdboxes is a good move but eventually a more radical approach may be needed such as more country parks and tree preservation orders in our towns and cities. Also, rigid parking zones which prevent people parking on their own street may need some examination to reverse the trend.

  3. For one strange moment I thought I thought I was going to be asked to adopt a sparrow. I’ll call mine, “Gordon”In truth I hadn’t realised they were missing – but they really are. When I was a boy my village had seventeen farms – today it is an housing estate – the sparrows that once thrived have been replaced by gangs of aimless semi vagrant hooded youths. New Labour, imo, has wrought a sense of hopelesness over some parts of this country – maybe the sparrows knew they were coming and left.

  4. My dear Lynne,This is the last of my worries.What about the unnecessary wars costing lives and billions of £’s.What about the billions of our money poured into greedy Bankers who brought us to this situation to start with.What about council housing that the councils are saying that the government has starved them of funds to build them. Are the Bankers supposed to lend money to house buyers in order to restart the inflatory housing boom cycle again?

  5. Dear Lynne,Although I agree with the anonymous contributor about the importance of constant work to put an end to wars, ending the obscene millions spent on armaments, getting rid of greedy bankers and all the other ills of the world, there IS still time to put into preserving wildlife and our environment. It’s not either/or!! So thank you for raising the issue of garden birds. We are the poorer for their increasing rarity.I wonder what your experience with your bird box will be. I spent last summer trying to attract birds to my garden with food and water baths, only to find that the ubiquitous squirrels ate the food, tipped the water out, scared the birds away and eventually destroyed the bird feeders. I then invested in a ‘squirrel proof’ bird feeder, but by then the local birds were very suspicious and giving my garden a miss. Hope for better things this year.Anyone in the area solved this problem?Jennifer N8

  6. Successive ruling governments have been responsible for selling off land, in and around cities for developments; housing (which most persons can ill afford) or to build Industrial Estates (which remain empty due to closures) cause companies have gone to the wall; ‘put up a parking lot’ usually with a supermarket attached (for food which most people cannot afford [credit crunch]) and drive to, thereby polluting the air we breathe (where have all the trees gone? Oh they’ve been cut down for development) and building upon parks were children used to play so now they wander around in hoods, for something to do, frustrated with their lives, their Future and knife each other cause there are no community youth halls facilities (all sold off or closed) , is it any wonder that there are no birds…?