Long-tailed tits and blue tit on feeder. Photo by Nigel Blake.The countdown to the Big Garden Birdwatch is on! It’s now just three weeks until it’s time to sit down, perhaps in your favourite chair, and look out your window for just one hour, counting the birds in your garden.

So, how can you make the most of your Birdwatch? Just how are you going to attract charms of goldfinches, squadrons of starlings and tonnes of tits to your garden?

It’s all in the preparation

You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘failing to prepare is preparing to fail’? Well, that’s true for your garden too! And this weekend is the perfect time to start your Birdwatch preparation. It’ll give your birds time to get used to any new foods or feeders.

There are three steps in my mind:

  1. Clean
  2. Fill/top up
  3. Sit back and enjoy

First things first. Get out there and clean your feeders. Don’t be shy, give them a good brush. Take a look at our advice pages for more information on how and why to do this.

Now could also be the time to invest in any new feeders. Our shops have sales on now, so why not pick a brand new feeder when you stock up on your bird food?

Get it out there

So you’ve got your food. The birds love it: it’s tried and tested. Get it out there. I’m not saying that you need to have feeders off every branch and mealworms scattered everywhere, but make sure your feeders are topped up and the right food is out. If you’ve got peanuts, for example, lying uneaten in your feeder, ditch them. Now’s the time to try something else. Put food on a bird table too, or the ground, for birds like blackbirds and dunnocks that don’t traditionally hop up on the feeder.

And don’t forget water: birds need a drink too! It only needs an upturned dustbin lid (surely there’s one lying around now most people have wheelie bins!) or even a tray for your plant pots. Just fill with water, stick a couple of stones in it and, hey presto, you have a water supply.

Again, take a look at our website for all the info you’ll ever need on feeding your garden birds.


Now that you’ve cleaned your feeders, and put out your food, it’s time to sit back and relax. The birds will come. If you’ve only just started then it may take a while, but chances are that if you’ve put out the right food, in the right place, they’ll be there in three weekend’s time.

So, you see, preparation is the key. It really is that simple to enjoy a bumper birdwatch! Enjoy...

Share your tips

Why not share your tips? What foods do you put out and are there any special tricks you use to entice the birds into your garden?

  • Hi Woody,

    The suvey form opens online (www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch) on 28 January, and will then be open for several weeks after that for people to submit results.

    Hope that's helpful.


  • Does anybody now when you have to send your results in by for Big Garden Birdwatch

  • Hi guys,

    Thanks for your messages. Great to hear that you're getting ready for the big weekend.

    Dawny: My house has no real garden to speak of, but some feeders in a tree across the courtyard. But I still recorded 12 species there in the 2010 Big Garden Birdwatch. Just the 10 last year, but we'll see what turns up next weekend.

    I'll be doing another post explaining my 'tactics' for the weekend, so look out for that next Friday!


  • i live in a flat, so no garden unfortunately but i have trees and bushes as fencing from the school playing field outside my kitchen window. so far, the feeders i have put in the trees have been a great sucess for starlings, now in the process of putting up peanut feeders and seed cakes for my smaller friends.

    i am looking forward to the 28th /29th (have a weekend off) to see how sucessful these will be.

  • Oooh won't be long now the wren, robin and tits have been here all weekend ... lets see who joins them very soooon