Eric Brown writes about more of the wild things he sees in his Sidcup garden and elsewhere around the area.

House sparrows are causing a weighty problem for other garden-feeding birds.

The chirpy house sparrow has been unmasked as a bird table bully in a study by Exeter University researchers. They discovered heavyweight house sparrows will out-muscle bird table rivals to snaffle the best food provided by householders during winter.

House sparrows, they found, weigh in at an average 27.3 grams with only greenfinches (27.7g) of the regular bird table rivals proving heavier.

These two outgunned robins, goldfinches, great tits, blue tits, coal tits, dunnocks and chaffinches for the best sunflower hearts and seeds in the experiments.

Personally I’m delighted. The familiar 'Cockney sparrer' of my youth is no longer seen in huge flocks. A disastrous 66 per cent population decline has been mentioned recently. The reasons are varied and complicated with loss of habitat, pollution from vehicles and insect decline usually quoted.

Readers of a certain age will recall sparrow flocks following horse-drawn carts driven by coalmen or milkmen. Seeds spilled regularly from horses’ nosebags and the manure attracted tasty insects. Sparrows nested happily and communally in front garden hedges and under eaves in houses.

Now motor vehicles replace horses, hedges have been removed and front gardens paved over to create parking spaces while housebuilding improvements eliminated roof nesting opportunities.

Yet an RSPB survey in January established that house sparrows were the second most popular bird reported in Bexley gardens behind starlings. In the county of Kent garden reports declined 57 per cent but house sparrows remain the most frequently seen bird.

Luckily there are still colonies around Sidcup and Blackfen with a party of 32 on my lawn last month including many juveniles.

Please help house sparrows by creating hedges, erecting nestboxes on your house and providing food and water. We don’t want the heavyweight to suffer a knockout.