House sparrow (Passer domesticus)

House sparrow: Ray Kennedy, RSPB Images

Where to find them: Gardens, streets, urban centres

When to hear them: All year round

Diet: Seeds, crumbs, scraps

The great opportunist of the bird world, house sparrows flourished in London as the capital grew and grew in the 19th century. They fed on man’s leftovers and the chirping of the cockney sparrow soon became synonymous with the East End.

But the species has been in decline in recent years; and no-one knows why. Four years ago it was the most common bird in Tower Hamlets, but has been overtaken by the somewhat less popular woodpigeon, and its cousin, the feral pigeon.

Nevertheless the house sparrow is still the most common bird in the gardens of Lewisham and Hackney. Take a walk through any quiet residential street anywhere along the East London Line, and you’re still likely to hear the cheerful twitter of an old-time east Londoner.

Top 10 most spotted rating:

Croydon: 4th

Lewisham: 1st

Tower Hamlets: 3rd

Hackney: 1st

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