Every year hundreds of thousands of people across the UK fill their bird feeders, grab their binoculars and watch as each bird visits their gardens, balconies or windowsills for the annual Big Garden Birdwatch.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) annually conducts what it says is the world’s largest garden wildlife survey to encourage people to record how many birds of each species they see during a three day period.
Over a million people joined Birdwatching in 2021, a record number for the RSPB, as wildlife enthusiasts looked for ways to connect with nature while on lockdown.
Here’s everything you need to know about Big Garden Birdwatch and how you can get involved:
What is the Big Garden Birdwatch?
RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch is a wildlife survey that invites the public to count the birds that visit their gardens and report their results to the RSPB.
The recorded results provide a snapshot of the UK bird population each winter, helping experts to monitor and determine how birds across the country are faring.
When is the Big Garden Birdwatch?
This year, the Big Garden Birdwatch will take place from Friday, January 28 to Sunday, January 30.
Who can participate in the Big Garden Birdwatch?
Anyone can participate in Big Garden Birdwatch, which is a free and voluntary activity. It is not necessary to be a member of the RSPB or donate to the charity to be able to participate.
The RSPB encourages anyone who wants to take part to register on its website, but you can still report your results online if you didn’t register.
How do I participate in the Big Garden Birdwatch?
During the course of Friday, January 28 to Sunday, January 30, all you need to do is spend an hour each day observing and counting the birds that visit your garden or balcony.
Keep track of how many of each species of bird you see. You can find a guide to help you identify 407 bird species found in the UK on the RSPB website.
After you finish birding, you can submit your results to the RSPB via their online survey, which can be found here.
How can I get more birds to visit?
The charity has provided a three-point plan to make your garden as attractive as possible to birds.
His best tips include wiping down your bird’s tables and feeders and washing them with a five percent disinfectant solution or warm soapy water.
This should be done weekly or whenever the feeder needs to be replenished, to keep them clean and prevent the spread of disease.
You should also put out some clean, fresh water that the birds can drink or bathe with. This is especially important during the winter when natural water supplies can freeze.
Lastly, the RSPB recommends offering a variety of foods to increase the number of species that will visit. The small seeds attract house sparrows, dunnocks and finches, while sunflower seeds are a favorite among blue tits, chickadees and greenfinches.
What are the most common garden birds?
Last year, Big Garden Birdwatch showed that house sparrows were the most common species seen in gardens, followed by blue tits and starlings.
Some other common visitors to the garden include blackbirds and robins, but their numbers have dropped significantly since 1979.
Others, such as wood pigeons and great tits, have increased significantly in numbers, previous surveys suggest.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.