There is just over a week to go it is already looking set to be a very big year for the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch. Last year close to half a million people contributed to what has become extremely important dataset. The 42nd year is gearing up to the biggest for the largest wildlife survey in the world. Over the past year there has been a surge in interest in nature, and more than ever before, we've seen how important the natural world is to our mental health and wellbeing. It has never been clearer that we need nature and nature needs us.
The story so far...
Three very familiar birds have had a stronghold on the BGBW leader board in recent years. The mighty house sparrow has retained top spot for the past 17 years followed by starling at number two and blue tit and number three.
Photo: House sparrows on a feeder - Tracey Dunford
Don't be fooled however, there is trouble at the top. Since the BGBW started in 1979, house sparrows have declined by 53% and starlings by 80%. This highlights the value in a survey like this, where data is gathered from all across the UK over many years.
Photo: Long-tailed tits on a fatball feeder at Newport Wetlands - Stefan Zitzmann
One of the birds that has crept into the top 10 in recent years is the lovely long-tailed tit. The ever popular robin on the other hand is hanging on at around 9 or 10. Too close to call for this year...?
How to take part in BGBW 2021
All you need to do is choose any hour on either 29th, 30th or 31st of January, watch and count all the birds you see in your garden. If you don’t have a garden you can just look out of your window. Many bird species are adapting to live in towns and cities so you'll be surprised what you can see. It is equally important to know which birds are coping with increasing urbanisation. Registering is easy and more information can be found on the RSPB website here.
It’s a good idea to start feeding the birds ahead of the weekend as this will give them time to find you. Please carry on feeding your birds after the event, they will get used to your garden as one of their regular feeding spots and they can waste vital energy if food is suddenly not available. Winter is a difficult time for our wild birds and they really need our help. It is also very important to keep feeders, tables and water baths clean, as disease can spread easily with so many birds concentrated together.
Here are some useful links to make the most of the BGBW
New… BGBW Live!
This year for the first time there will be livestreams available throughout the weekend with quizzes, live webcams, wildlife champions and celebrities popping in for a chat. For now you can check out the live stream on the bird feeders at Live Cam at RSPB Arne
So now you're all set and ready to go, you can do your bit for nature, contribute to this fantastic project, but most of all… simply enjoy and who knows what you will see!
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