Tag Archives: decline


At this time of year birds have finished breeding. They often move into another area where they will spend the winter.

Birds like Blackbirds, Robins, and Song Thrushes are partial migrants, and breeding birds will probably move a small distance to the south, before being replaced by birds from northern Europe and Scandinavia. We can have Blackbirds in our gardens all the time, but they could be different blackbirds in winter and summer.

Birds like Chaffinches and Yellowhammers generally form feeding flocks on farmland in winter, and are not seen so often in gardens,

At this time of year there is a lot of food in the countryside and some birds don’t need to come to garden feeders – so even sedentary species such as Blue Tits will go to different habitats at this time of year. They only have themselves to feed as the young fledglings have grown.

[ad#125x125square]However, once the weather starts getting colder, and natural food supplies get less, birds such as tits and finches will move back and start to take food from garden bird feeders.

So it may be that the loss of birds in the garden could be that birds are simply changing their habits at the end of the breeding season


The above is a reply to a question a reader wrote asking about the loss of birds feeding in her garden. Click the link below to read the question


Decline in Swallow numbers

I have been receiving letters from readers saying they are seeing a decline in swallows.  

For this reason I have been asking why this should be happening.   

I have  heard that there, are in some areas, a devastating drop in swallows, house martins and swifts.

It has been said it could be global warming across the sahara and increased predation by Hobbys – they are birds of prey that can fly faster than swifts.

There is anecdotal stories about a big mortality around the Zambezi River when air temperature plummeted 20 deg C – swallows fell out of the sky. As I say this is only anecdotal but could be true.

There have also been two bad breeding seasons in England.


Hope there is a better breeding year this year. But we are so helpless with swallows, swifts and martins. We cannot feed them. It is maybe a more global problem.

I have read that if there is a reduction in swifts and swallows there will be in increase in insects – some of the insects cause illness to man

I wonder if this is a sure sign there is something wrong.

In some places there does not seem to have been a drop in numbers. I wonder why there is this fluxuation.

I have started a forum called at http://birdtablenews.com/forums/topic.php?id=10

I have started a topic about swifts and swallows, where information could be brought together. It’s new so not many chatting yet.








The Swift Tower at the Olympic Games in London and the Swift Nest boxes are being organised by  http://www.swift-conservation.org/

If you contact them please let me know if you do anything to help the Swifts.

If you find any anecdotal, factual or other information about the decline in swifts and swallows let me know.

Somewhere someone must be putting all this information together.


Decline in swift and swallow numbers

I keep hearing  that in some areas there has been a devastating drop in  swallows returning.  Also  house martins and swifts. 

I have been  asking questions and reading. 

It has been said it could be

  • global warming across the sahara and
  • increased predation by Hobbys – they can fly faster than swifts.

There is anecdotal stories about a big mortality around the Zambezi River when air temperature plummeted 20 deg C – swallows fell out of the sky.  As I say this is only anecdotal but could be true.

There have also been two bad breeding seasons in England.


 One  comment I have received is –

I live in Brackley Northamtonshire, we have had swallows nesting in the apex of our house roof for as long as i can remember, however this year have not even seen a single bird, or a swift for that matter, where are they all? Mike


Please – if you have any info, stories, have read a report about this,  or have actually seen a decline or increase in swallows, swifts and martins please let me know.   It only takes a jiff to leave a comment.


Decline in Garden Birds

In 2008 robins, great tits and garden warblers had their worst breeding season that has ever been recorded.

 These birds, along with other species, have been monitored by a ringing scheme over the past 25 years by the British Trust for Ornithology

 The  organiser of the Trust’s Constant Effort Sites (CES) ringing scheme, Mark Grantham stated that  last year’s wet and windy summer once again played a large part in reducing the number of chicks birds were able to rear successfully.

 The blackbird, great tit and song thrush had a drop of more than 30% in the number of young they reared.  This is a disaster.

 2008’s breeding problems followed on from 2007’s breeding problems – when May to July was the wettest on record.

  Rain over long periods in the breeding season can stop parent birds from finding food for their young.  The parents have to stay away from the nest for longer as it takes longer to find food when it is torrential rain as food is inaccessible (This must be  why I have so many birds at the feeders when it is raining)

 The young chicks can also get wet in the nest, get drenched, wet and die in the nest.

 If this bad weather in the breeding season continues how this garden will birds cope.

 What I wonder is – with such a drop in the numbers of garden birds rearing their young shouldn’t the RSPB look into the matter of Birds of Prey attacking garden birds. Surely if the number of birds being reared is declining then the fact that birds of prey are taking garden birds as well much effect garden bird numbers.

Lets feed these garden birds and help them survive.

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Decline in Swallows Returning

Is there a decline in the number of swallows returning to England. 

I think there is.  We have had fewer here this year.

Here are two observations I have received about the decline of swallows –

I live in a town s.e. Gloucestershire, population approx 3500. For the first time for at least 25 years (as long as we have lived here) no swallows have returned to nest in our shed.

I see none overhead in the town. Some martins, only one or two swifts instead of dozens.

I miss them each day, as they always fill me with delight while they are with us.

Why haven’t they come back – have there been bad storms in their winter homelands? Spin-off : we have noticed a lot more flies & midges than usual.



We usually have three or four swallow nests in an outbuilding every year and countless swallows.

So far this year we have have only had fleeting glances of one or two swallows. Date 2ndof June

What is going on? I am not even sure what time of year they usually nest?


  • Are swallow numbers declining all over Britain?
  • Is climate change affecting bird migration?

 To be able to help swallows we need to understand migration – which is difficult.

  • Weather affects the timing of a swallows migration.
  • It is not easy to help the swallows – we cannot put bird food out.


 I have sent this short email to The British Trust for Ornothology  -info@bto.org  Hi, I have a website called birdtablenews.com.  I have been getting comments about the decline in swallow numbers this year.  One person said it was the first time in 25 years that swallows had not nested in his shed.

Here on the farm we have fewer swallows.  Swallows have been coming here for over 60 years (before my time).  They are declining.  Do you know of any reason.


I will let you know what reply I got.  I have also asked other people and will see what replies I get.



Last week on Springwatch there was a discussion about another migrant bird – The cuckoo.  It’s numbers are declining this year.  I wonder if the same thing is happening to the Swallows.

Swift numbers are declining and I have read that this may mean that insect numbers will increase.  I will put  a link in to an article about that tomorrow.


Swallow returning home to Yorkshire


Pleast let me know what you think.



Migration of Swallows

 At the moment we definitely don’t have many swallows.  Where are they? 

Where have all the swallows gone.   Swallows migration should be ending now and they should be arriving here for the summer.


I wrote the following in my diary in 2007.  It is aboue swallow migration.  Since then I think the swallow numbers round about the stack yard have become less each year!!

This is as relevant today as it was two years ago!! –

I feel as though the family of swallows who come here every year, belong to our family. They have been coming to these buildings for well over 90 years. (Before my time!) It would be criminal and irreverent if, in our generation, swallow numbers dropped dramatically. If swallows stopped coming now it would be irreverent and heartbreaking. Part of nature that has been going on for years should not slowly decreases or stop because of man – but it does. Or could it be because of climate change? Now there is another issue.

I have taken these swallows for granted over the years. They are not a bird I can feed. They feed on insects. Its been nice when they arrive. It heralds the warm weather. Without them flitting about and zooming past our heads and perching on the telephone lines summer would not be the same. When we watch them gather to leave I can see it is some indescribable knowledge that brings them together to travel.

If we all originate from one source I wonder if the ‘migration DNA’ of our past is the core of why we like holidays and have the urge to flit round the world and flit home again.

If there is anyone who reads this web page who lives under the flight path of the swallows please contact me and comment

  A relative told me when she was abroad she saw some wild birds hung in cages in the heat of the day . One especially was going mad and it was terrified. She says, to this day, she still feels guilty for not paying to set it free. Is that what happens to our swallows?  Will anyone know?


 I really hope I see a flock of swifts arriving soon and that their migration has been successful .  It would make my summer

 swallow on the wing

A swallow on the wing


Back to May 2009.  I’m lucky that David sent me some swallow information and he saw his first swallow on 7th April on the Yorkshire Wolds.


sparrows plotting against other birds

Sparrows wrecking a  jenny wrens nest! 

Jeannie sent a really interesting bird watching observation about sparrows trying to stop a jenny wren nesting.  I’ve put her comment below my notes. Read it it’s really interesting.

A while ago I read about  Sparrows evicting a martin in 1912.  The sparrows took over the martins nest.  If you read the article  that I have put at the end of this post you will see that the martins got their own back.

I’m glad Jennie sent this as information because  when I put it with my 1912 story it shows that sparrows must often take over other nests and maybe have been doing it for years.   Bird against bird again!

Here is Jeannie’s birdwatching note –

a pair of sparrows have sabotaged my nesting box which had little jenny wrens in there. 

The hole is too small for them but they poked their heads in and dragged out bits of nest. 

Now one of them is sitting as though ‘on guard’ on the box ledge.  why have they done this, your quess is as good as mine.


 Click the link below to read how martins got their own back when sparrows evicted them

Story of a sparrow evicting a martin in 1912


What do you think.  Do you think it shows birds have brains and can think things through.

Have a good day


Decline in birds

Last year a lot of garden birds had a really bad breeding season and there was a decline in bird numbers, so please read on –


Birds such as robins, song thrushes, blackbirds had a fall of 38 per cent in the number of young who survived.

Also, the last two summers have been really bad for moths which has a effect for birds such as blue tits and great tits which rely on them to feed their young.

Bad, wet weather when any parent bird is foraging for food for its young can mean the parent bird just cannot find enough food for it’s young or for itself.

Young chicks can be drenched in the nest if the rain comes which could  be one reason why there is a decline in birds.  There is nothing we can do about that but we can help by putting bird food out and helping the parent birds and the fledglings that do survive

Birds really have to fight for survival don’t they and we can help

Putting out bird food every day can help stop the decline in bird numbers. 

I see a frenzy of  blackbirds in the garden sometimes at the ground feeders.  The thrushes are getting bolder in their visits to my Garden Bird Cafe.  I often see robins in the hedge, on the fence and at the ground feeders.

I get a frenzy of sparrows and chaffinches at the hanging feeders as well.

If the parent bird can get good food easily and does not have to spend the day foraging for herself she will be healthier and stronger to bring up her brood (or  broods). 

So, I will outwit the rooks, crows and pigeons, and keep on feeding our lovely garden birds.

Lets keep feeding our garden birds and help stop this decline in our native birds

Swifts could be extinct in 20 years

Swift numbers are dropping alarmingly and there is a chance swifts could be extinct within 20 years.

There has been a 40% drop in the numbers of migatory birds over the last 15 years.

Swifts  used to be able to nest –

  • In open eaves
  • under loose roof tiles
  • in holes in walls

Because of repairs and modern building techniquest these nesting sites are no longer there.

Eaves are

  • sealed
  • or fitted with slatted grilles

Tiles are now

  • fitted without gaps.


All swifts need is

  • a tiny edge of a gable or under an eave

  • for new buildings you can buy nesting boxes very cheaply.

Swifts make a 14,000 mile return journey to winter in South Africa. It is sad that there is nowhere for them to nest when they get here.


There are many ways we can help the swift. 

You do not have to have a garden to help the Swift.  It is nesting sites they need and they can be provided without a garden.



A lot of birds are declining in numbers the sparrow and the swift are but two of them.  I hope this is a good year for our feathered friends. 

Last year I thought we had fewer swallows stay the summer than normal.

I get a lot of birds in my garden every day and sometimes forget how their numbers are dropping.

It’s good to think we can help.  I have a sparrow nesting in a bird box I put up.  I put a variety of bird food out every day.

Hedges, shrubs and trees that were planted before I was born give food and shelter to a lot of birds near to where I live.

It would be great if everyone in Britain just took a little time to help out native birds.  Here’s hoping.

Sparrowhawk numbers

I think  the RSPB believe that all hawks should be protected.

I don’t believe that.  Sparrowhawks seem to be coming more common and numerous. 

Sparrowhawks have no natural enemies so if they take up residence in an area and raise young each year they will need food.

A gentleman in this area has seen sparrowhawks take song thrushes time after time.  I think the Song Thrush numbers are  under threat.  The sparrowhawk is not

If the sparrowhawk is protected and has no naturel enemies then they will become common – and then maybe will not need protection.

I belong to the RSPB, but I have also joined Songbird Survival.  Songbird Survival is a charity trying to stop the decline in bird numbers.

It believes that one of the reasons for the decline in bird numbers is uncontrolled predation.

So we have two opposing views. Interesting. 

I’ll put more information on about Songbird Survival soon.  Or you can just google Songbird Survival.