House sparrows and starlings, once familiar birds of our gardens have both suffered severe declines in recent years. However, from my observations recently I wonder if both species may be on the verge of staging a bit of a comeback.

The sparrow colonies I know have been small but viable but this spring there are certainly more birds around.

Sparrows and starlings are under eaves and hole nesters but their habitats have been reduced with eaves sealed up and possibly an increase in the populations of great spotted woodpeckers and parakeets taking over tree holes

At first glance, starlings appear rather drab but in sunlight, their plumage shines with purple and green highlights while in winter it is shot with innumerable yellow speckles and stripes (pictured). 

Starlings are famed for their incredible 'murmurations' whereby millions gather at dusk and assemble performing complex synchronised aerial manoeuvres constantly changing direction and forming massed patterns in the sky. The Somerset levels and Brighton pier are notable murmuration hotspots.

This year I've been fortunate to watch some 'mini- murmurations' in Richmond park where flocks of starlings several hundred strong swirled over herds of deer picking off insects on their backs or feeding on the ground before taking off en masse and flying over trees uttering their soft churring contact calls in unison. 

Fascinating to watch and there are definitely more starlings in my area so hopefully both species are on the up now?