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Numbers of sparrows in East Lancashire buck national trend
HOUSE sparrow numbers in East Lancashire are on the up and bucking worrying national trends, according to latest figures.
Leading birdwatch organisation British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) said the number of birds in the region was perched well above the rates found elsewhere in England after it revealed garden sightings had increased by 40 per cent since 1994.
The welcome data, which was compiled by the rolling resident-led Garden BirdWatch, comes as the number seen near homes in other parts of the country has fallen by 20 per cent in the same period.
Since the 1970s, UK populations have fallen from about 12 million pairs to between six and seven million, with a larger reduction in urban and rural areas than in suburban ones.
Blackburn-based ornithologist and chairman of the Blackburn and District Bird Club Jim Bonner said: “We’ve seen a rise this year compared with previous years.
“They seem to have been slowly coming back over the last 10 years and I think it could be due to there being more insects around for them to eat now than there have been in the recent past.
“People can encourage their numbers to grow by keeping hedgerows and bushes in their gardens and keeping track of their numbers by helping in bird surveys.”
Paul Stancliffe, spokesman for the BTO, said that although they were not completely sure why house sparrows were flourishing in the north west, he said they believed it could be due to ‘less intensive farming practices’.
He said: “It’s really interesting that the north west is bucking the trend and the only thing we can think of is that it might be down to less intensive farming practices and different pesticides being used.
“The south east has also become much drier whilst the north west has remained cooler and damper which could be more agreeable to the species.
“The only other place that has seen figures improve in the UK is Scotland, so it’s promising that this part of the country at least seems to be following in its footsteps and it seems that there’s a north-south divide when it comes to house sparrows.
He added that nationally, half of all house sparrows had disappeared between 1985 and 2010.
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