The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) runs its Big Garden Birdwatch survey every year. The survey takes place on the last weekend of January and uses the power of citizen scientists, meaning members of the general public that contribute to scientific research, to build an accurate picture of the welfare of birds across the UK.
Completing the survey is very simple. Participants spend one hour over the weekend birdwatching. This can be done in their own garden, on a balcony, or in a nearby park or green space. After noting the number and types of birds that they see land during that hour, participants submit their data to the RSPB. Each submission helps support the conservation of birds in Britain.
Why survey birds?
The UK is experiencing a decline in bird species. An estimated 38 million birds have been lost from the skies over the past 50 years. The RSPB started the Big Garden Birdwatch in 1979 to monitor British avian wildlife. The results of the survey help the charity decide where to focus their energies.
The society was founded in 1889 and campaigned to protect bird species that were being driven towards extinction by the contempory fashion of adding exotic feathers to clothes, hats and accessories. Because of this, the RSPB has always held conservation as its core value. The society now manages more than 200 nature reserves across the UK, where it works to protect habitats, save species and help the country’s wildlife to thrive.
Biodiversity and species survival is a useful marker of the health of an ecosystem and environment. Protecting habitats ensures that birds have safe homes and plenty of accessible food sources. By running the Big Garden Birdwatch, the RSPB receives scientific data and evidence that is used to support this work.
How to take part in the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch
Whether you want to be part of one of the largest surveys in the world, love bird watching or are searching for a new hobby, it’s really easy to get involved in the Big Garden Birdwatch. Simply go to the RSPB’s sign up page and enter your details to register.
It doesn’t matter if you don’t know a sparrow from a starling, the RSPB provides a free guide. There are plenty of other resources and guides online as well, such as this one from Gardener’s World.
Once you’ve spent an hour counting the birds that land in your garden or local area, just return to the RSPB website and submit your results. That’s all it takes to help protect birds for generations to come!
Our beautiful, customisable barn owl mug is perfect for enjoying a cup of tea while you birdwatch.
The benefits of birdwatching?
If you enjoy taking part in the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch, a good activity for the new year could be birdwatching. There’s a number of reasons that birdwatching is considered a great past-time for both mental and physical health.
Birdwatching is an activity that involved being outside in nature. Green spaces are well documented as having a positive impact on mental health and mood. Meanwhile, walking around in the fresh air is physically beneficial. Birdwatching also creates a sense of calm and can strengthen memory and concentration skills. The concentration needed to spot birds can be almost meditative, while the mental recall and repetition of identifying birds can help keep your brain healthy.
Furthermore, a study published in Nature last year explored the effects of birdlife and birdsong on mental health. It found that both those with diagnoses of mental illness and those without experienced ‘time-lasting improvements in mental wellbeing’ following encounters with birds. The study advised implementing measures to preserve and increase encounters with birdlife.
Our Best Books for Birders
If you keep searching the skies for birds, we have some great notebooks featuring our feathered friends. The flying cranes design captures the thrill of seeing birds in flight, while the robin in the snow and barn owl are filled with the magic stillness of birdwatching. For those who like simpler designs, we also have the great crested grebe and crow sigil notebooks. Customise your notebook with lined paper to list where, when and what birds you see along with observations. On the other hand, a notebook with plain paper will allow you to try sketching your favourite birds as well.
If you’d like to see more bird notebook designs in our shop, makes sure to vote for your favourite garden bird in our competition on Instagram! Running between Wednesday 25th and Sunday 29th of January.