Home My garden Big Garden Birdwatch 2020 – how to take part

Big Garden Birdwatch 2020 – how to take part

Magpie. Picture; RSPB Richard Brooks
Magpie. Picture; RSPB Richard Brooks

Blog: Play watch the birdie on 25, 26 and 27 January…

It’s something I do every year and I’d encourage everyone else to do so whether they have a garden or not from today.

Up to half a million people are expected to watch and count their garden birds for this year’s Big Garden Birdwatch, the biggest garden wildlife citizen science project in the world.

All you have to do is spend just one hour watching and recording the birds in your garden or local green space, then send the results to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).

Over the last 40 years, hundreds of thousands of people have provided the RSPB with nearly 9 million hours of information and 137 million birds have been counted.

Big Garden Birdwatch 2020 logoShare your stories

This year, the RSPB wants you to share your Big Garden Birdwatch stories. How will you #BigGardenBirdWatch? will showcase some of the best examples, from building their own birdwatching den, baking wildlife-themed cakes and making bird feeders.

The study is vital, as it is an early indicator of changes in bird populations. The song thrush was a firm fixture in the top 10 in 1979 but more than 30 years later, its numbers have fallen by more than half. By 2019, song thrush numbers seen in gardens have declined by 76 per cent, coming in at number 20.

Rebecca Munro, RSPB director of communications, said: “With nearly half a million people now regularly taking part, coupled with 40 years’ worth of data, Big Garden Birdwatch allows us to monitor trends and helps us understand how birds are doing.

Song thrush. Picture; RSPB/Chris Gomersall
Song thrush. Picture; RSPB/Chris Gomersall

‘Snapshot’ of bird numbers

“With results from so many gardens, we are able to create a ‘snapshot’ of bird numbers across the UK.”

The house sparrow remained at the top of the rankings with more than 1.2 million recorded sightings in 2019.

To take part, watch the birds in your garden or local park for one hour at some point over the three days. Only count the birds that land, not those flying over.

Robin on feeder. Picture; RSPB/Ben Hall
Robin on feeder. Picture; RSPB/Ben Hall

Free info pack and how to take part

Record the highest number of each bird species you see at any one time – not the total you see in the hour.

The RSPB Big Schools’ Birdwatch takes place from January 6-February 21. Last year, 60,000 schoolchildren spent an hour in nature counting birds. Further information can be found at www.rspb.org.uk/schoolswatch.

For your FREE Big Garden Birdwatch pack, which includes a bird identification chart, RSPB shop voucher and advice to help you attract wildlife to your garden, text BIRD to 70030 or visit www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch.

Big Garden Birdwatch 2019 results

Rank Species Average per garden % of gardens species recorded in 2019 LONG TERM Average per garden% change 1979 – 2019 Change since 2009
1 House sparrow 4.4 63 -56 10
2 Starling 3.1 41  -80 -13
3 Blue tit 2.6 77 8 0
4 Blackbird 2.3 87 -42 -9
5 Wood pigeon 2.3 77 1034 26
6 Goldfinch 1.8 34 71
7 Great tit 1.5 58 68 7
8 Robin 1.3 82 -33 5
9 Chaffinch 1.3 38 -57 -34
10 Magpie 1.2 54 192 27
11 Collared dove 1.1 43 275 -20
12 Long-tailed tit 1.0 26 45
13 Dunnock 0.8 43 0.0 -14
14 Jackdaw 0.8 21 37
15 Feral pigeon 0.7 16 62
16 Carrion crow 0.7 26 31
17 Coal tit 0.7 33 246 4
18 Greenfinch 0.4 15 -64 -56
19 Wren 0.3 21 58 16
20 Song thrush 0.1 11 -76 -40
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Mandy Watson is a freelance journalist and an incurable plantaholic. MandyCanUDigIt grew from the tiny seed of a Twitter account into the rainforest of information you see before you. Gardening columnist for the Sunderland Echo, Shields Gazette and Hartlepool Mail and editor of the Teesdale Mercury Magazine. Attracted by anything rebellious, exotic and nerdy, even after all these years. Passionate about northern England and gardens everywhere. Falls over a lot.

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