Richard Oliff: Glad to see more of busy little birds

Richard is happy to see an increase in house sparrow numbers
Richard is happy to see an increase in house sparrow numbers

One bird that was as common as oxygen when I was growing up in Corby was the plain little house sparrow.

They were everywhere and appeared to be with us during every month of the year.

They made other seasonal birds appear even more exotic: their plain little brown bodies being outshone by the flash of colour from a tit or a finch.

A few years ago I heard it reported that the numbers of sparrows were on the decline by up to 70 per cent in some areas over a 30-year period.

Many theories have been published as to the whys and wherefores, with two of the best being those of the RSPB and another by Kate Vincent, whose details are easily accessible online.

Such was the concern for this apparent population decline that a regular morning programme on national radio would ask its listeners to try to monitor the numbers of sparrows visiting their gardens.

Having moved home within the past seven months in the same village, I’ve noticed a distinct increase in the sparrow population when compared to our previous address less than half a mile away.

Our little garden has been pleasantly busy with sparrows that are with us from dawn till dusk, and I couldn’t help myself from wondering why.

The rise in the number of house eves being replaced by UPVC cladding may have something to do with their enforced nesting rethink, though the open fields to the rear of our home may have given them a decent alternative habitat to the man-made roof spaces of the past.

Some have suggested the number of pet cats that roam from garden to garden may have added to their decline.

Whatever the reasons, I’ve never been happier to see so many of these busy, mischievous, beautiful little birds.