If there’s one thing we’ve learnt over the years of asking people to do Big Garden Birdwatch, it’s that the birds don’t always turn up on time.
For those few minutes when there’s not a bird in sight, keeping your little ones enthusiastic can be hard. But help is at hand.
From colouring sheets and make your own bird masks, to finger puppets and online games, we’ve got plenty of activities to help keep your kids entertained during the quieter seconds of your Birdwatch hour.
You can also use these activities before and after your Birdwatch!
These starling finger puppets are really easy to make. Why not make a starling for each finger and create a whole flock? More…
Let the birds eat out in style – turn your junk into a bird restaurant! More…
So, you think you know the colours of some of your favourite garden birds? Try this game and find out if you really do! More…
Do you know the birds in your garden and school grounds? Find out with Rook’s Binocular Birdwatch game. More…
Give the birds a treat and keep them happy with this quick and easy cake recipe. More…
You’ll love this Bird Life version of Top Trumps starring the birds you’re most likely to see in your garden. Play with your friends and family and see who has the best Big Card Birdwatch skills. More…
Great spotted woodpecker colouring sheet activty. Tip: suitable for younger children
Date: 28 November 2006
Great tit colouring sheet activity
Date: 13 February 2007
Greenfinch colouring sheet activity. Tip: suitable for younger children
Date: 28 November 2006
Robin colouring sheet activity. Tip: suitable for younger children
Date: 13 February 2007
Robin in garden colouring sheet activity
Date: 13 February 2007
Long tailed tit finger puppet activity. Tip: suitable for younger children
Date: 1 December 2006
If you know where you were when you saw the bird it will help narrow down your search.
If you know how large the bird was, please choose one of the options below.
|robin-sized or smaller|
|between blackbird-feral pigeon|
|between feral pigeon-mallard|
|bigger than mallard|
We know you’re going to have questions.
And that’s why, here at Birdwatch HQ, we’ve looked at what filled our e-mail inbox in 2012 to find the top 10 most commonly asked questions about Big Garden Birdwatch. Simply click on the question to reveal the answer!
If your question isn’t covered below, simply hop over to our friendly Community group and ask your question on the Big Garden Birdwatch forum. Don’t forget to sign in (it’s free to set up an account) to join the conversation.
By asking you to count the highest number of each bird species you see, rather than totalling them all up over the hour, you’ll eliminate the possibility of counting the same bird on more than one occasion.
That’s why we do it in January! In some ways it’s the best time of the year for watching garden birds, as cold weather brings them into our gardens looking for food and shelter.
The time of day you do your Birdwatch may affect the numbers and variety of birds you see. However, it won’t affect the overall results as any differences in numbers are evened out by the large number of people who take part in our survey.
The weather varies each year and also across the UK during each Big Garden Birdwatch weekend. Because it’s so random, it doesn’t affect the results in the long term.
Don’t worry, it’s really important that you send us your results, no matter what you see. Surveys are as much about what’s missing as what’s there. It’s all really valuable information.
Some people see fewer birds than usual during their hour, but others see more than usual, so it balances out.
What is great about this survey is the amount of people who take part. We’d rather have half a million people watching for an hour, than fewer people watching for two or three hours.
Scientists at RSPB HQ take all your results and create a ‘snapshot’ picture of bird numbers in each region, and, along with previous years’ results, they paint a bigger picture of what’s happening with our UK bird populations.
They tell us whether bird numbers are increasing or decreasing. With half a million people telling us what birds they’ve seen, we get lots of information, making it easier to identify any species that are in trouble – the first step to helping their recovery.
Big Garden Birdwatch is a survey of UK bird species. Results from overseas won’t be accepted as only bird sightings from within the UK can be included in the results.
However, if you live abroad, but happen to be in the UK over the Birdwatch weekend, there’s nothing stopping you taking part and we’d love to receive your results.
Like so many people who enjoy the birds in their garden, sometimes a bird pops in for a visit who you just can’t name. But don’t worry.
We’ve gathered together a list of the top 15 birds seen during Big Garden Birdwatch 2012.
It’s a great place to start to familiarise yourself with the birds you might see during your birdwatch.
Alternatively, you can try our online bird identifier. Simply tell us a bit about what you saw and we’ll suggest some possible birds.
The males live up to their name but, confusingly, females are brown often with spots and streaks on their breasts. The bright orange-yellow beak and eye-ring make adult male blackbirds one of the mos… More…
A colourful mix of blue, yellow, white and green makes the blue tit one of our most attractive and most recognisable garden visitors. In winter, family flocks join up with other tits as they search fo… More…
The chaffinch is the UK’s second commonest breeding bird, and is arguably the most colourful of the UK’s finches. Its patterned plumage helps it to blend in when feeding on the ground and it becomes … More…
Not as colourful as some of its relatives, the coal tit has a distinctive grey back, black cap, and white patch at the back of its neck. Its smaller, more slender bill than blue or great tits means it… More…
Collared doves are a pale, pinky-brown grey colour, with a distinctive black neck collar (as the name suggests). They have deep red eyes and reddish feet. Their monotonous cooing will be a familiar so… More…
A small brown and grey bird. Quiet and unobtrusive, it is often seen on its own, creeping along the edge of a flower bed or near to a bush, moving with a rather nervous, shuffling gait, often flicking… More…
A highly coloured finch with a bright red face and yellow wing patch. Sociable, often breeding in loose colonies, they have a delightful liquid twittering song and call. Their long fine beaks allow … More…
The largest UK tit – green and yellow with a striking glossy black head with white cheeks and a distinctive two-syllable song. It is a woodland bird which has readily adapted to man-made habitats to … More…
Its twittering and wheezing song, and flash of yellow and green as it flies, make this finch a truly colourful character. Nesting in a garden conifer, or feasting on black sunflower seeds, it is a reg… More…
Noisy and gregarious, these cheerful exploiters of man’s rubbish and wastefulness, have managed to colonise most of the world. The ultimate avian opportunist perhaps. Monitoring suggests a severe decl… More…
The long-tailed tit is easily recognisable with its distinctive colouring, a tail that is bigger than its body, and undulating flight. Gregarious and noisy residents, long-tailed tits are most usually… More…
With its noisy chattering, black-and-white plumage and long tail, there is nothing else quite like the magpie in the UK. When seen close-up its black plumage takes on an altogether more colourful hue … More…
The UK’s favourite bird – with its bright red breast it is familar throughout the year and especially at Christmas! Males and females look identical, and young birds have no red breast and are spotted… More…
Smaller than blackbirds, with a short tail, pointed head, triangular wings, starlings look black at a distance but when seen closer they are very glossy with a sheen of purples and greens. Their fligh… More…
The UK’s largest and commonest pigeon, it is largely grey with a white neck patch and white wing patches, clearly visible in flight. Although shy in the countryside it can be tame and approachable in … More…
Helping garden wildlife is fun – and it couldn’t be easier. Over the weekend of 26-27 January 2013, we’d love you, your friends and family, to get involved in Big Garden Birdwatch – the world’s largest wildlife survey!
As an activity that started life as something for our youth membership to do in winter, Big Garden Birdwatch has grown into fun for all the family. All you need to do is count the birds in your garden or a local park for one hour then tell us what you see.
If, like us, you love wildlife and want to do something to help, this is your chance to get involved in something that really counts.
Why are we counting birds?
To understand why we’re asking you to count birds, we need to rewind the clock and start at the beginning!
It’s 1979 and we’re looking for a simple winter activity that our junior membership can get involved in. As it’s likely to be cold and the evenings dark, we think a weekend activity in the garden would be best.
So, we asked our members to count the birds in their gardens, all at the same time, so we could work out the UK top ten most common garden birds.
Biddy Baxter – the editor of Blue Peter at the time – liked the idea so much that she featured the survey on one of the programmes. We had only expected a few hundred children to take part, but thanks to Biddy’s coverage, we actually got over 34,000 forms!
And that’s how our ‘one-off’ activity grew into the regular event it is today. Although it wasn’t until 2001 that we invited adults to join in the fun, too.
Find out more about the history of the world’s biggest wildlife survey as Gemma Butlin, RSPB Media Manager, talks to Peter Holden, the creator of Big Garden Birdwatch:
How you’ve already helped
For over 30 years, we’ve been asking you to count the birds in your garden – and you’ve been brilliant at it.
With over half a million people now regularly taking part, coupled with over 30 years worth of data, Big Garden Birdwatch allows us to monitor trends and helps us understand how birds are doing.
As the format of the survey has stayed the same, the scientific data can be compared year-on-year, making your results very valuable to our scientists.
With results from so many gardens, we are able to create a ‘snapshot’ of bird numbers across the UK. Let’s take a look at some of the population changes you’ve helped us see. All changes are from 1979 to 2012:
While these changes can seem scary – we’ve lost more than half our house sparrows and some three-quarters of our starlings – it isn’t all doom and gloom.
Your results help us spot problems, but more importantly, they are also the first step in putting things right. And this is why it’s so important that we count the garden birds.
The more people involved, the more we can learn, so please encourage your family, friends and neighbours to take part and make 2013 the best ever Big Garden Birdwatch!
All you need to know about taking part
Taking part in Big Garden Birdwatch couldn’t be easier, simply follow these three steps:
1. Watch the birds in your garden or local park for one hour on the weekend of 26 – 27 January 2013.
2. Record the highest number of each bird species you see at the same time. Don’t count the total over the hour as you may get the same birds visiting more than once. Also, please only count those birds that land within your garden – not flying over.
3. Once your hour is up, tell us what you’ve seen. Even if you didn’t get as many birds as you expected, or your ‘regulars’ didn’t appear, do still please let us know. It’s all really useful information. Our form will be open from the Birdwatch weekend until 15 February 2013 for you to tell us what you’ve seen.
4. Yes, we know we said three easy steps. But you’ll like this step as we just want to say ‘congratulations – you’ve done the Birdwatch!’ Along with hundreds of thousands of other wildlife lovers, you’ve taken a step for nature and helped us find out more about our garden birds. Thank you.
If you don’t have a garden or green space near you, don’t worry. You can do your birdwatch anywhere! If you don’t believe us, check out our video to see some of the more unusual places that people have spent an hour watching the birds: