Every year, the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) organises the Great Garden Birdwatch. It’s the perfect opportunity to get to know the birds that visit your garden, park, balcony or school grounds, and you’ll be helping scientists find out more about birds in the UK too.
UPDATE! The results from the 2019 Great Garden Birdwatch are now in
After lots of data crunching, all those records you and others across the country sent in have been processed and you can find out more about what they say on the website.
It’s worth having a closer look at the data (and we think it would make a great basis for some school projects too) because after all, you helped make this science happen!
A few highlights from the results show that:
- House sparrows are the most common birds spotted.
- It might surprise you to hear that robins are at number 8 – we thought there might be more of them!
- Sadly, song thrushes are in decline – and they’ve been declining steadily since the birdwatch began way back in 1979.
If you want to help the birds in your garden, the website also has some great recommendations and pieces of advice to follow.
You can also check out our ‘Make and watch a bird feeder activity’ which is perfect for helping wild birds when food is scarce.
How to take part
The Great Garden Birdwatch for 2019 takes place from the 25th to the 27th of January.
All you need to do is spend one hour watching birds, count how many birds land in the area you’re watching (don’t count the ones flying over the top) and try and identify what the birds are.
Then, once the hour is up, you can submit your results to the Great Garden Birdwatch website.
If you’re worried about not being able to identify all the birds, don’t be! The website has some very helpful ID guides and you’ll probably spot a lot of birds you’re already familiar with – yes, pigeons and robins count too! But you might also learn about some new birds or spot an unusual visitor.
How does the Great Garden Birdwatch help nature?
Birds are sensitive to changes in the environment. For example, if there are fewer places to nest because many trees have been cut down, there will be fewer birds. If changes in weather patterns mean that insects the birds normally feed on aren’t around, then they’ll go hungry and their numbers will drop.
And birds are an important, beautiful part of our natural world.
To get a better idea of how birds are doing, we need to know which birds are where, which is where the Birdwatch comes in. The more people watching and recording birds, the more information that can be gathered, the more accurate a picture scientists can build up and provider better advice on what we can do to make things better.
“For four decades, the Big Garden Birdwatch has highlighted the winners and losers in the garden bird world. It was one of the first surveys to alert the RSPB to the decline in the number of song thrushes in gardens. This species was a firm fixture in the top 10 in 1979, but by 2019 numbers of song thrushes seen in gardens had declined by 76%, coming in at number 20.”
“Your results help us spot problems, but more importantly, they are also the first step in putting things right. This is why it’s so important that we count garden birds.”