HOUSE sparrows are now the most spotted bird in Lancashire, a study involving thousands of residents found.

Almost 10,000 participants of the Birdwatch survey in Lancashire discovered starlings were no longer the most widely spotted bird in the county – with house sparrows knocking them off the top spot.

The woodpigeon also entered the top 10, climbing three places from number eleven, and the chaffinch fell from fifth place to number seven.

However, blackbirds held on to third position, with an average of two recorded per garden, and blue tits remained in fourth place.

Goldfinches climbed 19 places to take fifth position this year and scientists believe the increase in people providing food in gardens, may have contributed to their steady rise.

Scientists also believe that the weather has played a role in the ups and downs in this year’s top ten as many of the birds were recorded in lower numbers in gardens due to the mild conditions.

Richard Bashford, Big Garden Birdwatch organiser, said: “This year was always going to be an interesting Big Garden Birdwatch as the winter has been so mild and we wondered if it would have a significant impact on garden birds.

“They were out and about in the wider countryside finding natural food instead of taking up our hospitality.

“The good news is that this may mean we have more birds in our gardens in the coming breeding season because more survived the mild winter. It is a great time to give nature a home by putting up a nesting box and supplementary feeding.”

Nearly 10,000 people in Lancashire took part in the survey in January, which is the largest of its kind in the world.

Giving Nature a Home is the RSPB’s latest campaign, aimed at tackling the housing crisis facing the UK’s threatened wildlife.

The charity is asking people to provide a place for wildlife in their own gardens and outside spaces – whether it is planting pollen-rich plants to attract bees and butterflies, putting up a nestbox for a house sparrow, or creating a pond that will support a number of different species. For more information, visitwww.rspb.