The RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2020

For over 40 years the RSPB has been running one of the largest citizen science projects in the world, the Big Garden Birdwatch. Data is submitted by nearly half a million volunteers who have counted birds in their gardens, allowing a unique and important picture to emerge of changes in abundance and distribution of some of the UK’s most popular bird species. Anyone can sign up online to take part and submit data using a simple online or paper form, and then you can sit back with a cup of tea and enjoy watching the birds in your garden or park, whilst contributing to this amazing project. This year the Big Garden Birdwatch is being run from 25 – 27th January, with results expected to be published in April.

Long-tailed tit: Airwolfhound: www.flickr.com

How to take part in the Big Garden Birdwatch
You do not have to be an RSPB member to participate and process for signing up, counting and submitting records is easy.

  1. Sign up through the RSPB website for either a free postal pack or online results submission
  2. Find a good spot to watch the birds in your garden or a local park and choose an hour between between Saturday 25th and Monday 27th January
  3. Have fun identifying the species visiting your garden during that hour and count the maximum number of each species you see at any one time. For example, if you see a group of three house sparrows together and after that another one, the number to submit is three. This method means it is less likely you will double count the same birds and makes data analysis easier. Make a note of any other wildlife that you spot as well
  4. Submit your results, either on the Big Garden Birdwatch website, or by posting a paper form. Even if you don’t see anything, that’s still useful information
  5. Look out for the results and take pride in having contributed data from your patch

Which species am I likely to see?
The RSPB website has some fantastic guides detailing how to identify the species that you are seeing and once you have signed up, you can download a chart with the most common species and identifying features. Alternatively NHBS stocks a range of bird ID guides that are ideal for beginners and more experienced birdwatchers. One of the first thing to consider is where you are seeing the bird and how it is feeding as this makes it easier to distinguish between ground feeders such as chaffinches, dunnocks, blackbirds and robins, and feeder users such as blue and great tits and goldfinches. If you can hear the birds then listening to the calls they are making is also a really good way to help with identification. The top eight species from last year gives a good idea of some of the species you are likely to see in your garden.

The most commonly recorded species in the 2019 Big Garden Birdwatch. All images from www.flickr.com

Big Garden Birdwatch Results
Over the course of its 40 year history the Big Garden Birdwatch has developed an invaluable database of the numbers and composition of species visiting our gardens and parks. This has allowed the RSPB scientists to identify critical population trends such as a 77% decline in song thrush and starling numbers since 1979, and a 56% decrease in the number of house sparrows since the study started, although this decline has slowed in the last 10 years.

All images from www.flickr.com

With the increase in people feeding birds in their gardens, the diversity of species visiting our parks and gardens has increased. Coal tit sightings have increased by 246% since 1979, goldfinches only began to be sighted in the early 2000s and siskins, bullfinches and bramblings are increasingly common in gardens.

The 2019 results have house sparrows as the most commonly sighted bird for the 16th successive year, with over a million sightings. Starlings and blue tits maintain their second and third places respectively, and the rest of the top ten was also fairly consistent with previous years’ results, featuring blackbirds, woodpigeons, goldfinches, great tits, robins, chaffinches and magpies.

 

All of this vital analysis of our wild bird populations is only possible thanks to the time and enthusiasm donated by the volunteers who take part.

 

Greenfinch and goldfinches on a seed feeder:  Nick Holden – www.flickr.com

How can I encourage more wildlife into my garden?
It is well documented that increasing our interactions with nature can not only benefit the wildlife around us but also improve our own physical and mental wellbeing. Participating in the Big Garden Birdwatch can help you understand how wildlife is using your garden and also give you some insights into how you could make your outdoor space even more attractive to animals.

Improving your garden for wildlife can be as simple as leaving a patch of long grass, providing native trees or plants that are good for pollinators such as lavender, buddleja and verbena, or leaving a woodpile for insects to shelter in. You can also supply nest boxes for birds, bat boxes for summer roosting bats, access panels and shelters for hedgehogs, shelter for frogs and toads and of course bird feeders, which will bring a multitude of species to your garden.

Recommended Products

Opticron Oregon 4 PC 8 x 32 Binoculars

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With Phase Coating for improved sharpness of images, these are fantastic entry level binoculars

 

Hawke Optics Endurance ED Binoculars

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These binoculars have ED glass for brilliant colour rendition

 

 

 

 

Defender Metal Seed Feeder

£15.95 £17.50

Defender Metal Peanut Feeder

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Strong metal feeders with good squirrel resistance

 

 

Britain’s Birds: An identification guide to the birds of Britain and Ireland

£19.99

 

 

 

 

 

Collins BTO Guide to British Birds

£19.99

 

 

 

 

 

RSPB Pocket Guide to British Birds

£6.99

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guide to the ‘Top 50’ Garden Birds

£3.99

New Titles in the Important Bird Areas Series

NHBS is distributing two new major new titles in the Important Bird Areas series, profiling the Important Bird Areas of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Both of these key conservation titles are now in stock at NHBS. 175898

Important Bird Areas in Kazakhstan: Priority Sites for Conservation provides the results of the IBA inventory and its relations to nature conservation in Kazakhstan, and details the accounts for 121 IBAs identified in Kazakhstan which form part of the Central Asia IBA programme. A Russian edition of this book is also available for purchase.

 

 

 

 

 

175898

Important Bird Areas in Uzbekistan: Priority Sites for Conservation provides the results of the IBA inventory and its relations to nature conservation in Uzbekistan, and details the accounts for 48 IBAs identified in Uzbekistan which form part of the Central Asia IBA programme. A Russian edition of this book is also available for purchase.

 

 

 

 

Browse Conservation, Care and Monitoring

Browse our full range of birding titles in Ornithology

Browse our full range of Wildlife Equipment for ringing pliers, binoculars, waterproof notebooks and all the other field essentials.

New Bird Conservation Books from NHBS

A Best Practice Guide for Wild Bird Monitoring Schemes is essential reading for all those involved in bird counts, conducting surveys, analysing monitoring data and managing results. This key resource outlines the general principles of good survey design and best practices for sampling, field methods, and data analysis. Contributors include the RSPB, EBCC, CSO, BirdLife International, and Statistics Netherlands.

175898175898

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another new bird monitoring title is Bird Ringing: The Concise Guide, published by the BTO. This book is an ideal training tool for ringers, explaining how and why we ring birds. It contains numerous examples of how ringing has contributed to conservation science and research, and how ringing helps us understand population changes by providing information on survival and recruitment.

For more new titles and related equipment, browse New Bird Conservation Titles and Equipment

We stock a wide range of fieldwork equipment including bird weighing scales, ringing pliers, GPS units, and nest boxes and camera kits. To see our full selection, browse Wildlife Equipment

Browse our full range of Bird Conservation, Care, and Monitoring titles

Don’t miss the great deals on ornithology titles in our annual Backlist Bargains sale (ends 31/03/2009).

Browse our full range of birding titles in Ornithology

Big Garden Birdwatch & Birdwatchingwatching

Radio 4’s Today Programme featured the new birding travelogue Birdwatchingwatching this morning. You can listen to the piece again online here.

This weekend is the 30th Big Garden Birdwatch – the world’s biggest bird survey. This annual event provides invaluable information on species abundance accross the country and is easy for anyone to take part in. All you need to do is record the species you see in your garden for one hour.

Find out more on the RSPB’s website.

To find out more about monitoring bird populations you might be interested in the BTO’s new book about the history of ringing: Bird Ringing: A Concise Guide. For more in-depth information on techniques, see Bird Monitoring Methods and Bird Census Techniques.