It’s January and that only means one thing, it’s time for the Big Garden Birdwatch! Our new Visitor Experience Officer, Lydia, explains how to get involved and introduces you to some of the usual suspects!
Over the last 43 years the Big Garden Birdwatch has become one of the largest wildlife surveys and is really one of a kind. The magnitude of data collected over this time has given us a unique insight into how birds are faring throughout the years in the UK.
Some birds seem to be thriving in our gardens, including goldfinches and great tits who have taken advantage of food available to them in our gardens. Others have declined dramatically, like the song thrush which has declined 81% since 1979. The reasons behind declines are complex and are continuously investigated by the RSPB as it is vital we do all we can to save nature.
2021 was a landmark year with over 1 million people joining in and 17 million birds been counted. Whether it was watching birds in the garden, from balconies or in local parks every bird counted makes a huge difference. So, whatever you see, wherever you are, it all counts and makes a huge difference!
What will you see in the Big Garden Birdwatch 2022? Let's introduce you to the usual suspects...
Based on last year's results, we'll countdown from number 10 to number 6. Then look out later in the week for the top 5!
10) Long-tailed tit
Long-tailed tit by Graham Osborne
At number 10 is the bonny long-tailed tit. Easy to distinguish from other garden birds with their black and white markings and extremely long tail! These little hyperactive birds weigh less than a one-pound coin and can often be seen bouncing from tree to tree in small flocks which largely consist of family members.
Long tailed tit nests are a thing of beauty. It is mainly constructed with 4 distinct materials which include moss, lichen, spider web and feathers. In fact, they have been known to use up to 1,500 feathers in their nests even using dead birds as a source.
Next up is our mischievous magpie - part of the corvid family and generally known to be extremely intelligent. A bird often considered superstitious and famously known for bringing sorrow or joy, it is a frequent visitor to many gardens. Magpies are predominantly black and white, but they do have a purple/green iridescent sheen to their feathers.
Magpies have a varied diet and although in winter their diet is predominately vegetarian, they do eat invertebrates, carrion and are known to raid songbird nest during the breeding season. During the months with large food abundance they have been known to store food for later.
Goldfinch by Graham Osborne
The charming goldfinch came in at number 8 in last years Big Garden Birdwatch. Goldfinches are increasingly being seen on birdfeeders and, as expert seed eaters, can often be seen tucking into sunflower hearts and nyger seeds and foraging teasels and dandelions.
These small but colourful finches can be distinguished by their bright red face and yellow wing patch. Goldfinches are highly social and often found in large groups which can number in their thousands in the autumn and are commonly referred to as a charm.
7) Great tit
Great tit by Graham Osborne
Great tits are the largest species of tit in the UK and can be identified for the distinct bold black head and white cheeks. They are generally more aggressive at bird feeders and will chase off smaller birds such as coal tits. Great tits are known to have over 40 distinctive calls and songs and are a common sound to many of our gardens. Although it is a bird of the woodland it has adapted to living and thriving in our gardens often using nest boxes.
Robin by Chris Prince
The feisty Robin is one of the UK’s most recognisable birds with its fiery red breast and familiar song you can hear all year round. Juvenile robins have a slightly browner speckled chest and will gain the red after their first moult. Although they are cute, they are extremely territorial and can often be seen defending their territories, especially in the winter when both males and females hold separate territories.
Robins are usually very tame and inquisitive. They can often be seen perched in your garden looking for insects and earthworms to eat.
We can't wait to hear who you see in your garden - you can find more information on how to get involved here
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