This weekend is the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch and we are asking as many people in the UK to take part as possible! What's great is that you don't even need a garden, just a small local green space like a park or copse of trees or hedgerows near where you live. Sit for an hour, and count how many different species of bird visit you within that time and the highest number of one species you see in one go.
What's so great about the Big Garden Birdwatch?
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. With results from so many gardens, we are able to create a 'snapshot' of bird numbers across the UK.
It’s an impressive amount of data, and the great thing about 40 years of the Big Garden Birdwatch is that we now have four decades of comparative results. The findings provide an important insight into how our wildlife is faring. The Big Garden Birdwatch alerted us to the decline in song thrush numbers. 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.The Birdwatch has also shone a light on the declines of house sparrows and starlings. These birds have dropped by an alarming 56 and 80 per cent respectively in gardens across the UK since the Birdwatch began.It’s also true that there have been increases in some species. Great tits are up by 68% since the first Birdwatch and in 2016 long-tailed tits flew into the Big Garden Birdwatch top 10, after the average number seen visiting gardens across the UK increased by 44 per cent.
Changes in the climate would also seem to be having an impact. Over recent decades blackcaps have also seen increasingly in gardens in winter. Although these birds are primarily summer visitors to the UK, some are spending the milder winters in the UK rather than migrating further south in Europe.
What birds might I see?
Robin - these lovely little birds are usually fairly tame and will get close to humans and often take food from people's hands. They like to eat soft food such as earthworms or fruit but will also enjoy suet, mealworms and seed from a bird table.
Blackbird - males are black whilst the females are brown, these birds love to forage for worms in a lawn but will also eat fruit and berries. They love a bath and will often be seen bathing in puddles and birdbaths.
Blue tit - a small and colourful bird often seen on the feeders. They favour caterpillars and small bugs in the spring but in the winter they enjoy most things you can put in a bird feeder; peanuts, suet and seed.
Even if you don't see any birds on your birdwatch, please submit a record. All data is helpful and gives the RSPB a clear picture on the state of the UK's bird population.
Enjoy watching birds this weekend!
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