LETTER: Increase in predators main reason for garden bird decline

EDITOR - I have read with interest the comments made by Mr Bouchier and Mrs Jackson regarding the decline in the garden bird population.

One of the main reasons for this decline is the ever increasing populations of predators, magpies, common crows, sparrow hawks, grey squirrels and cats. Only the other day, the chacking of a blackbird in distress told its own story.

A magpie flew out of a thorn hedge which boarders the field to my cottage, it’s black beak clamped around the dangling corpse of an unfortunate fledgling.

Both parents were in full cry but there was nothing they could do.

Any mention of controlling and reducing the steadily expanding number of magpies and crows immediately arouses the ire of the vast army of so-called bird lovers whose main source of information appears to be derived from the ghastly springwatch programme and of its ilk.

The fact of the matter is that magpie numbers have increased two-fold over the past 30 years and the population is now completely out of hand.

Surely anyone can group the simple fact that whether or not song birds are in severe decline as a result of intensive farming and a consequent reduction in insect life and weed seeds, any predation on a massive scale - whether by Corvidae, sparrow hawks or cats - on what is left of a declining population must have a significant effect.

It is the simple law of diminishing returns.

Did you know that each sparrow hawk requires two small birds a day to survive?

The last figure I saw from the British Trust of Ornithology was that it was estimated there were 165,000 sparrow hawks resident in this country and if one times that figure by two and then by 365 for the number of days in the year, one can appreciate the impact on our small bird population.

JOHN JAINES

South Cockerington