RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch

What is it?

The Big Garden Birdwatch is the UK’s largest citizen science project. Established over 40 years ago, it takes place in late January and asks members of the public to carry out a bird count in their garden or local park. Around half a million people take part each year and due to lockdown, participation is expected to boom this year (one of the few silver linings of being stuck at home).

Why is citizen science important?

Besides being a great way to engage with local wildlife – I spotted species that I have not previously noticed – and help boost your mood during the winter (I can’t express how excited I was when the robin finally found our makeshift bird table!), projects like this have really important scientific value. Citizen science allows researchers to collect huge amounts of data that would otherwise not be possible and monitor widespread trends. For example, the Big Garden Birdwatch has shown that song thrushes, which were amongst the top ten species during the first survey in 1979, have seen their numbers decline by 76%. This data collection enables us to spot problems and importantly, inform conservation work to protect species.

My results

During the one-hour survey I spotted 24 birds from 11 different species. Not bad for a small garden!

Survey results submitted to RSPB. The missing 11th species I counted was a starling.

The Big Garden Birdwatch 2021 has now finished but if you are interested in participating in other citizen science projects then THIS ARTICLE has some great suggestions on where to get started.

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