Animals

What is the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch, how to take part, and the birds you should look out for


Could you spot a blue tit during the Big Garden Birdwatch? Only one way to find out (Picture: Getty)

Twitchers, rejoice – for the Big Garden Birdwatch is upon us!

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) manages the event, which sees Brits get out into their gardens to identify local birds.

It’s a chance to unveil your inner nature lover, and really appreciate the wildlife living all around you. And if you’re secretly curious about birdwatching, it’s a great way to the ball rolling.

So, what does it involve, and when can you join in? Plus are there any garden birds to look out for?

Here’s all you need to know.

What is the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch?

The Big Garden Birdwatch is a wildlife survey on an epic scale.

Every year, people all around the UK are asked to head out into their gardens, to their balcony, or pay a visit to their local park and identify every bird they see in an hour.

Time to get your binoculars out (Picture: Getty)

Then you simply send your findings to the RSPB, giving them a true, up-to-date picture of the bird population.

In 2020, more than one million of us got involved in the Big Garden Birdwatch. But sadly, the charity says more than 38 million birds have disappeared from the skies in the last half a century.

So it’s vital to keep track of them, and make sure every species’ population is thriving.

How to take part in the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch

Taking part is much easier than you’d think, and it won’t take you longer than an hour or two.

The Birdwatch is on from Friday, January 28 until Sunday, January 30.

All you need to do is chose a convenient hour to set up camp either in your garden or in a local area, such as a park or woodland.

Over the course of an hour, you’ll need to make note of every bird you spot – including the species name, and when you saw it. If you see more than one of the same type, note that down too.

Crucially, this is just for birds you see on the ground – not every bird that flies past.

If your garden doesn’t typically attract a lot of birds, set up a birdfeeder a day or two before you plan to spot them. That way, hopefully some will spot it and pay you a visit.

Side note: If you plan to take part in the Big Garden Birdwatch, you will want to make sure your birdfeeder has been out for around a month, as this allows time for all the local birds to discover it.

A common chaffinch – worth looking out for in your garden (Picture: Getty)

After the hour, all you need to do is head to rspb.org.uk/birdwatch and report everything you saw.

You don’t need to make an RSPB account, and the form to fill out involves just three screens. So this part won’t take you forever.

Unfortunately, though, you can only take part in the survey in your garden once.

If you feel like doing another hour of birdwatching, you could either give it a go for fun – or simply choose a different nearby location that’s close to where you live.

Which birds should you look out for?

Lots of common birds will be spotted over the course of the survey.

Look out for the cute robin, with its beautiful orange-red feathers (Picture: Getty)

Perhaps the most obvious to non-birdwatchers will be the cute robin – with its distinctive orange-red breast.

Blackbirds, chaffinches, woodpigeons (basically your standard grey pigeon), and magpies are probably the easiest to identify on sight if you’re new to birdwatching.

The charity’s website also highlights different species to look out for, including varieties of tit and finch. The blue tit, coal tit, great tit, and long-tailed tit are great sightings, with their differing feather colours, as are the goldfinch and greenfinch.

For a challenge, see if you can spot the house sparrow, a lovely bird that is sadly declining in numbers.

This sparrow was spotted in Brighton. Here’s hoping you’ll spot one too. (Picture: Getty)

And if you’re really lucky, you might find an incredibly rare bird!


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