The Street Art Inspired Big Garden Birdwatch

The RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch happened recently and the results are in for 2020. There are plenty of artists who love to draw wildlife. We’ve featured art from many over the years on Inspiring City. Street Artists such as ATM and Louis Masai having become particularly well known.

The RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch has been going since 1979. A lot of the results now are therefore compared with then. The event gives a yearly visual record which is invaluable in terms of determining the health of certain species. Below is the top 10 as depicted by street artists. Mostly in the UK but also with some from overseas. Welcome to the Street Art version of the Big Garden Birdwatch.

Big Garden Birdwatch Street Art

1. Sparrow

Artist – Louis Masai

Location – Wimbledon

According to the Big Garden Birdwatch. The sparrow is the number one recorded bird in the UK. However it’s numbers have been dropping dramatically as it’s habitat is lost. This piece from Louis Masai appeared in Wimbledon earlier this year. It shows a male and female sparrow. The piece is called ‘It’s oh so quiet’ after the famous Bjork song. The title was chosen to reflect the fact that sparrows are actually quite noisy birds. That means that when they disappear from our gardens, it can start to seem eerily quiet. Sparrows are actually down by 53% since 1979. Though over the past few years their numbers have risen a little. You can read our article about this mural here.

Sparrows street art in Wimbledon by Louis Masai. Sparrows are number one in the 2020 RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch
It’s oh so Quiet. The Mural by Louis Masai in Wimbledon

2. Starling

Artists – Collin van der Sluijs & Super A

Location – Berlin

This astonishing mural by Dutch artists Collin van der Sluijs and Super A was painted in Berlin in 2016. The mural stands 42 metres tall. It was curated by Urban Nation as part of their One Wall project. The Starlings chest is filled with jewels and plants representing the diversity of the city. It was painted at Neheimer Strasse 6 in the cities Reinickendorf district.

Although the Starling is still one of the most common garden birds in the UK, it’s decline has been dramatic. Since the mid 70’s it has declined by 66% which is huge. Because of the high rate of decline the starling is actually red listed as a bird of high conservation concern.

Starling on a building in Berlin. The Starling was number 2 in the Big Garden Birdwatch for 2020
A giant Starling in Berlin. Photo by Nika Kramer via ‘This is Colossal

The starling shows us what can be achieved when we join forces. It usually moves in flocks and skillfully uses this formation as a means of survival.

Yasha Young – Urban Nation Berlin

3. Blue Tit

Artist – Faunagraphic

Location – Manchester

Manchester’s Northern Quarter is one of the best places to see street art in the city. It is there where this giant mural of a Blue Tit can be found. Painted by Faunagraphic, a street artist from Sheffield, it is the third most common bird. It’s numbers actually up by 20% since 1979.

The mural itself was painted in 2011 so it’s a long standing one. The piece was sponsored by Converse and overlooked a piece of waste ground used as a car park. Faunagraphic was supported by fellow artists Rocket and Ruse. You can read more about the mural here.

Blue Tit by Faunagraphic in Manchester. Blue Tits were number 2 in the Big Garden Birdwatch for 2020
Giant Blue Tit in Manchester’s Northern Quarter
A video of the making of the giant Blue Tit mural in Manchester

4. Woodpigeon

Artists – Boe & Irony

Location – North Street, Bristol

The woodpigeon has seen it’s numbers rise dramatically since 1979. A massive 1035% in fact. Pigeons in general have seen quite a dramatic move from the countryside into towns and cities. The Woodpigeon is the largest and most common of these. They are attracted by the plentiful amounts of food to be found there. Changes to farming practices have actually helped the woodpigeon. The sowing of cereal crops and extensive production of oil seed rape provides lots of food. This combines with more food being available in gardens via feeders.

The mural chosen is a piece by Boe & Irony created in 2017. Part of the 2017 Upfest festival it shows a cheeky pigeon peeking around the corner. The pair often collaborate to paint wildlife. There murals are often well loved and long lasting. You can read our article about the Upfest festival here. You can also read more about other murals by Boe & Irony here.

A pigeon by Boe & Irony in Bristol. Woodpigeons were number 34 in the Big Garden Birdwatch
Pigeon mural painted by Boe & Irony as part of the Upfest 2017 festival

5. Blackbird

Artist – ROA

Location – Shoreditch

Blackbirds are striking. Jet black with a yellow beak they are truly distinctive. At least that’s the case for the males. Slightly confusingly the females aren’t black at all. They are brown and often with spots or stripes on their breasts. Sadly since 1979 Blackbirds are down by 46% in the UK.

Surprisingly I couldn’t find many examples online of murals featuring blackbirds. One artist though who is well known for his depictions of wildlife did have one possible contender. ROA from Belgium created a dissected Blackbird for VNA magazine in 2010. The artist is well known for his depiction of the natural world in a very urban environment. His work is often a commentary on the human relationship with wildlife. This no longer survives. The whole area having been knocked down and redeveloped.

A Blackbird by Belgian artist ROA in London. Blackbirds were number 5 in the 2020 Big Garden Birdwatch
Blackbird by ROA in London

6. Goldfinch

Artist – ATM

Location – Acton Town, London

Colourful little birds, the Goldfinch are up 50% since 2010. Becoming ever more regular visitors to gardens and feeders. In my experience they particularly seem to love those sunflower seeds. Back in 2014 street artist ATM painted one on a wall in the grounds of Berrymede School in Acton. The artist often paints murals of birds local to the environment he is painting in. He wanted to represent the Goldfinch in the school because it was a regular visitor. He wanted to help foster an interest amongst the children in the little visitors to their school

A Goldfinch by ATM in Acton. Goldfinch were number 6 in the 2020 big garden birdwatch
A goldfinch on the Berrymede School in Acton

They are birds that can still be seen around the area and the paintings can help foster an interest and make children aware, the more kids are aware of things the more likely positive changes can happen in the future.

ATM

7. Great Tit

Artist – Paolo Psiko

Location – Parenti, Italy

Another member of the tit family. Parus Major, also known as the Great Tit, has seen it’s numbers rise 72% since 1979. It can be quite difficult to tell the difference between Great tits, Blue tits and Coal tits. However as with anything it’s just a case of getting to know them. Great Tits are the largest of the three. They have a black head with white cheeks and a yellow belly.

In terms of street art murals, the Blue Tit seems to get most of the attention. Italian street artist Paolo Psiko however created a spectacular mural in the Italian town of Parenti. It was part of the 2018 Gulia Urbana festival in the south of Italy. His style is a mix between realism and abstraction. His piece in Parenti featuring a number of interlinking birds.

A mural of a Great Tit in Italy. Great Tits were number 7 in the Big Garden Birdwatch
Great Tits by Paolo Psiko in Parenti via @paolopsiko

8. Robin

Artist – SMUG

Location – Glasgow

The Robin is always a popular little visitor. Though it’s numbers are down 32% since 1979. Feasting particularly on mealworms, birdtables in gardens can make a big difference. It’s become really associated with Christmas time. Though a cold snap can be really difficult for them especially without food. Both male and female Robins are distinctive because of their prominent red breast.

Australian artist SMUG is known for his hyper realistic portraiture. His famous mural in Glasgow shows a Robin perched on the hand of a man. Behind him another Robin flies in. It’s a hugely popular piece of street art in the city.

A man holding a Robin in Glasgow. This was painted by the Australian artist SMUG. Robins were number 8 in the Big Garden Birdwatch for 2020
Street Art by SMUG in Glasgow. A man holds a Robin whilst another flies nearby. Photo courtesy of Urban Kultur Blog

9. Long Tailed Tit

Artist – Fran Giffard

Location – London

The Long Tailed is a lovely little entry into the 2020 top 10 for the Birdwatch. It’s a delicate little garden visitor. It’s tail being longer than its body. It flies in an undulating manner and loves to hop in and out of hedgerows. Since 2010 it’s been good news for the Long Tailed Tit. It’s numbers up by 37%

Trying to find a street art mural of the Long Tailed Tit online though proved very difficult. Despite it’s cute appearance it seems more of a focus for fine art painting. Certainly there are plenty of artist depictions, just not on the street. The artist chosen to depict therefore is Fran Giffard. Not a street artist but one we’ve liked for a long time nonetheless. Her drawings of birds on old pages of her diaries are very distinctive and popular. Lucky for us she’s also featured the beautiful Long Tailed Tit.

A drawing of a Long Tailed Tit by Fran Giffard. The birds were number 9 on the 2020 Big Garden Birdwatch
Long Tailed Tit by Fran Giffard

10. Magpie

Artist – Ruelo

Location – Leicester

Magpie numbers have risen 199% since 1979. Black and white with a long tail they were once much more plentiful in the UK. That is because they would eat harmful insects and rodents. However heavy persecution by gamekeepers around the time of World War I really harmed their numbers. Now they are much more stable and growing in urban areas.

Graffiti artist Ruelo created a giant mural of a Magpie in Leicester. Part of the Bring the Paint festival in 2017 it was created after most of the other works. Ruelo is more known for his lettering but this beautiful painting is an example of his versatility.

A magpie by graffiti artist Ruelo in Leicester. Magpies were number 10 in the 2020 Big Garden Birdwatch
Magpie by Ruelo on the side of an old mill in Leicester.

This article was inspired by the results of the annual RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch. This took place in January 2020 with the results revealed in March. The Big Garden Birdwatch has been taking place every year since 1979.

The results of the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch

4 Comments

  1. Nature in an urban setting is inspired. Murals on buildings are surprising and amazing accomplishments in art. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thanks for commenting Ken. I completely agree always love to see nature inspired street art 🙂

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