Get behind the Big Garden Birdwatch

Previous studies have shown that the number of Goldfinches has been on the rise in recent years.
Previous studies have shown that the number of Goldfinches has been on the rise in recent years.

The RSPB is calling on all local budding and regular birders to support this year’s Big Garden Birdwatch which will take place towards the end of the month.

The activity is the biggest garden wildlife survey in the world and since its launch in 1979, the Big Garden Birdwatch has provided RSPB Scotland with information about changes in numbers of garden birds in winter, and helped alert conservationists to any worrying declines.

Results from the Big Garden Birdwatch have highlighted large declines in populations of starlings, house sparrows and greenfinches. In contrast, goldfinches, long-tailed tits and great spotted woodpeckers have become much commoner garden birds.

The survey revealed that sightings of one of the country’s most threatened garden regulars, the starling, fell by a further seven per cent.

It means since the turn of the century, the average number of starlings spotted in Scottish gardens during the Big Garden Birdwatch has dropped by almost a quarter (22 per cent). Numbers of house sparrows, also on the red list, dropped by almost 8 per cent in gardens although in the past it has been the most spotted bird in Angus.

Participants are also being asked to log some of the other wildlife they see in their gardens.

RSPB Scotland wants to know whether people ever see deer, squirrels, badgers, hedgehogs, frogs and toads in their gardens to help build an overall picture of how important gardens are for giving all types of wildlife a home.

Once RSPB Scotland knows which species people are regularly seeing, it will also be able to tailor its advice on giving nature a home so that people can help their wild visitors nest, feed and breed effectively.

The organisation’s Big Schools’ Birdwatch is also currently underway and will run up until Friday, February 13.

Every school or group that submits its results before February 20 will be sent a certificate and free personalised minibeast poster as a thank you for taking part.

It only takes an hour and works across a wide age and ability range and can be run as the centrepiece of cross-curricular studies, project work, or as part of work to improve school grounds. Participants will also provide the RSPB with further data as well as helping to give nature a home at their schools.

Further information about how to take part at home or at school is available from www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch and www.rspb.org.uk/schoolswatch