Every January, the RSPB invites the public to take part in its UK-wide Big Garden Birdwatch to help them monitor the state of the nation’s bird population.
This year, the event - the world’s largest wildlife survey - is happening on 25-27 January, when hundreds of thousands of people will be recording their sightings. Last year, almost half a million people took part, spotting over 7.6 million birds.
People are asked to spend a period of one hour, watching birds in their garden or local park, making note only of the bird varieties that land, not those that fly over. You don’t even have to head outdoors to take part if you have a good view of your garden from your home.
The UK’s birds have been in decline for decades, with changes in farming methods and loss of habitat being the main causes.
Some species, such as the tree sparrow, have declined by as much as 95% since 1970. Other big losers include the corn bunting (88% decline), starling, turtle dove (both 71%), song thrush (56%), bullfinch (53%), skylark (52%) and cuckoo (33%).
The annual count gives the RSPB a clearer idea of which species are doing well and in which areas, as well as building a historical picture.
Here are the species that topped the 2019 birdwatch chart.
- House sparrow
- Blue tit
- Great tit
Visit the RSPB website to sign up to take part in the survey - https://www.rspb.org.uk/get-involved/activities/birdwatch/. The website also has images of the UK’s birds to help you correctly identify them.
And there are tips on things you can do to attract more birds into your garden. The big three ways to help birds is to provide them with shelter, food and water - lots more advice can be found here https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/advice/how-you-can-help-birds/.
Happy - and successful - birdwatching!