Do your bit for our feathered friends, January 27-29
It’s the world’s biggest wildlife survey, with about 500,000 people taking part last year – and this year’s Big Garden Birdwatch takes place from January 27-29.
As the format of the survey has stayed the same, the scientific data can be compared year-on-year, creating a ‘snapshot’ of bird numbers across the UK.
The BGB has revealed we have lost more than half our house sparrows and three-quarters of starlings since the survey began. However, blue tit numbers have risen by 20 per cent and the woodpigeon population has increased by 800 per cent.
Anyone can join in, whether you have a garden or not. Demand for free packs from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) has been overwhelming and there are only download packs available, still with the same information – visit https://www.rspb.org.uk/get-involved/activities/birdwatch/packrequest/
How to take part
- Choose a good place to watch from for an hour during the three day period of the survey and have a pen and paper to make a note of what you see (there’s also a counting tool on the RSPB website).
- If you haven’t got a garden, go to your local park.
- Count the maximum number of each species you see at any one time. For example, if you see a group of three house sparrows together and later another two, and after that another one, the number to submit is three – it’s less likely you’ll double-count the same birds.
- Even if you don’t see any birds, this is vital information, so the RSPB can establish whether there’s a problem in your area – or if they are just next door.
- You can include other wildlife, such as mammals and reptiles in the survey.
- Go to the Big Garden Birdwatch website, log your results, or use a paper form, which is free to post back to the RSPB.
Big Garden Birdwatch history
In 1979, Blue Peter editor Biddy Baxter featured the RSPB’s idea for its junior membership to count birds one winter weekend to work out what the UK’s top 10 most common garden birds were.
The RSPB expected a few hundred children to take part but more than 34,000 forms came back! In 2001, adults were able to take part too.
More than eight million birds were sighted in 2017, an increase on the previous year. In 2016, starlings were seen in 40 per cent of gardens, compared with 50 per cent last year.
Regularly feeding birds really helps, as well as putting up a nest box or gardening with nature in mind.