Big Garden Birdwatch UK 2022
From today, and over the course of this weekend (28th to 30th January) the annual Big Garden Birdwatch UK is taking place.
Each year the event gets bigger and bigger. Hundreds of thousands of people across the UK will take part this weekend, by recording the birds that they see visiting their gardens, balconies and windowsills.
Over 1 million people took part in the 2021 Birdwatch, a record breaking figure for the RSPB, and one that was likely bolstered by people wanting to connect to nature during the January Covid lockdown.
What is the Big Garden Birdwatch?
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) runs what it terms as the worlds largest garden wildlife survey every year. It asks participants to record the birds that visit their gardens and feedback the results online on the RSPB website.
The results give an insight in to the UK’s bird population during the winter, which helps experts know which birds are doing well across the country.
Who can take part?
Anyone can take part. It is a free and voluntary activity. You do not need to make any donation or be a member of RSPB to participate.
Everyone is welcome to be a part of the Birdwatch. The RSPB encourages participants to sign up via their website, but you can still report your findings even if you are not signed up.
What does the birdwatch involve?
Over the three days (28th – 30th January) all you need to do is spend one hour each day watching and counting the birds that visit your garden or windowsill.
You need to keep a record of which species you spot and how many. The RSPB provides a guide to UK species on their website.
Once you have finished your birdwatching you can submit your results to the RSPB via an online survey on their site.
Top tips on attracting birds to your garden
Some tips include cleaning your bird tables and feeders and washing them with warm soapy water.
This should be done every week or each time the feeder needs to be replenished, to keep them clean and prevent disease from spreading.
Putting out water is also helpful as that allows birds to drink and bathe. This is especially important during the winter when natural supplies of water may be frozen.
Put out a variety of food to increase the number of species that will visit. Small seeds attract house sparrows, dunnocks and finches, while sunflower seeds are favoured by blue tits, great tits and greenfinches.
What are the most common garden birds?
Last year, the Big Garden Birdwatch showed house sparrows were the most common species seen in gardens, followed by blue tits and starlings.
Sadly, birdlife in the UK is struggling and according to the RSPB, our bird population has declined by 38 million over the last 50 years.
Last year saw greenfinches move onto the UK Red List for at-risk species, for the first time. Their decline is thought to be caused by a disease. The RSPB are keeping a close eye on chaffinches and house sparrows as it’s feared they might be susceptible to the same disease too. The spread of disease is why the cleanliness of bird feeders is so important.
If you want to participate in the birdwatch please visit the RSPB site.