It’s the most wonderful time of the year…
No, we aren’t talking about Christmas (that’s a whole 320 days away), we’re on about the Big Garden Birdwatch! Hosted by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), the Big Garden Bird Watch is the world’s largest bird survey.
What’s all the fuss about?
As well as being the world’s largest bird survey, it’s also one of the most popular citizen science projects. Citizen science projects are a great way to collect large amounts of data from large areas; something that would take scientists a long time to do and would cost a lot of money. By taking part in citizen science, we get the chance to experience a day in the life of a scientist, and contribute real data to real projects. Thanks to people just like you, the Big Garden Bird Watch now has over 40 years of data, and ornithorniologists (people who study birds) have been able to track trends in species populations as a result. In fact, the birdwatch was one of the first studies to realise that song thrushes were declining by a staggering 76%. Collecting information on population trends like this helps scientists spot problems, and more importantly, helps them start putting things right! Interested to see which birds have been highlighted to need a bit of help? Check out the UK conservation red and amber lists.
How to Get Involved
First, you’ll need to sign up to let the RSPB know you’re taking part. Then, get your pens and papers ready, or your iPads, or phone, or the old receipt you have at the bottom of your pocket, and birdwatch for one hour between the 29th and 31st of January. If it’s too cold to sit outside in your garden or nearest park, find a spot next to a window over looking your garden or urban area instead. During your one hour birdwatching, observe all the birds you see that land in your area — not those which are still flying. Note down the species and the number of how many you see, and submit your results to the RSPB no later than 19th February.
There’s loads of great information to help in your Big Garden Birdwatch, from birds to look out for, identification guides and interactive keys, and even tips to invite more birds into your small urban spaces. The STEM Response Team will be taking part, and we’d love for you to be involved too! Can’t wait to see this year’s results? Have a go at this fun quiz in the mean time!