Help RSPB bring garden birds into focus

House sparrows

Big Garden Birdwatch takes place this weekend

Graham Martin's photo

19th January 2015 by Graham Martin 0 Comments

People taking part in the Big Birdwatch at the weekend should watch how our feathered friends use their garden as well as watching the birds themselves, says RSPB Scotland.

Last year nearly 40,000 people across Scotland spent an hour counting the birds in their backyard during the survey.

Now in its 36th year, it provides important information about the changes in numbers of birds using our gardens in winter, and helps alert conservationists to those species in decline like house sparrows, greenfinches and starlings.

RSPB Scotland said that as well as recording the species, people should note how they behave.

This is a good opportunity to notice ways you can improve your outside space to help give nature a home

Keith Morton, species policy officer for RSPB Scotland, said: “Every bird species has its own preferences for how it seeks food, water and shelter. While you count the birds during your Birdwatch hour also pay attention to how they are using your garden. This is a good opportunity to notice ways you can improve your outside space to help give nature a home.”

Experts are interested to see how the mixed weather conditions, and overall milder winter temperatures affect the number of birds in gardens in different areas of the country.

Will numbers be low because natural food sources in the countryside are abundant, or will birds appear in their droves to make the most of garden feeders?

And it’s not just Scotland that’s experienced warmer weather, despite the recent cold snap. Experts are also interested to see if the numbers of visitor birds from Scandinavia and Siberia may be reduced in this year’s survey.

Sightings of waxwings, redwings, fieldfares and bramblings could be down due to plentiful food supplies in northern Europe and Asia.

RSPB scientists are keen that, whatever the weather, as many people as possible take part.

Last year, for the first time, the RSPB asked participants to log some of the other wildlife they see in their gardens to help build an overall picture of how important our gardens are for giving nature a home.

Participants don’t have to see and count these other species during the hour of the Big Garden Birdwatch survey. They just fill in the form to tell the RSPB how frequently they saw them in their gardens over the past year.