I RECENTLY took part in the RSPB bird survey entering the number of garden birds seen within the duration of an hour’s watching.

Towards the end of the list, I entered 22 in the appropriate box for house sparrows and immediately, a message bounced back ‘Are you sure you mean 22?’ highlighting, I believe, their concern at the dramatic reduction in this species recently.

In actual fact, I could have added more to that figure because we share our home along with a healthy house sparrow population and they, in turn, enrich our lives with their song and antics – along with the occasional visit of the not-so-welcome, opportunistic sparrowhawk.

Some experts think the house sparrow decline is due to their struggle to find suitable nesting places as houses become better built and insulated. They also do not like to travel far from ‘home’ so as suitable nesting places diminish, so does the number of successfully reared chicks in the colony and it is not long before they are in serious trouble.

This is exactly what happened here, as a new roof on the house opposite rendered the colony ‘homeless’, calling for drastic action. Two three-hole boxes proved irresistible (as well as the extractor fan vent in the bathroom) and the latest survey is testament to their success.

Maybe if more people erected nesting boxes on their houses, the sparrow population would bounce back – I wish.

MRS S NELDER, Dene Road, Headington, Oxford