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: