This weekend, 25-26 January 2014, the RSPB needs your help with identifying and counting the species of birds in your garden or local park as part of the annual Big Garden Birdwatch project.
Held each year in association with the UK’s RSPB, the Big Garden Birdwatch is the largest garden wildlife survey in the world. All it takes is an hour out of your weekend to identify and count the different bird species foraging around your garden, or even your local park. Last year more than 590,000 people took part, providing essential information for conservationists about British birds and their habits. The survey counted 8.2 million birds in total and identified a decline in numbers of sparrows, starlings and bullfinches.
All you need to do is register on the RSPB website www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch, then sit comfortably for an hour spotting visitors to your garden and finally, log the results on the online form. For the first time, participants are also being asked to keep an eye out for other furry visitors, such as hedgehogs, foxes and deer.
It’s a great project for all the family to get involved with – spend some time creating some enticing snacks to lure more birds into your garden. Through the winter it’s especially important to put food out as birds need to feed for hours at a time to maintain strength.
I like to make lard cakes – just buy blocks of lard at your local supermarket, allow it to melt and mix with seeds, sunflower hearts and peanuts. Pour the whole lot into half a coconut shell, allow to re-solidify, attach a hanging wire and you’ve got an instant (and cheap) bird feeder! Packs of seeds and peanuts are widely available and of course you can add scraps from the kitchen for the birds; bread, cereals, cakes etc are all gratefully received, but never add any cooked foods (especially fats).
Get involved and happy counting!
Image credit: PierreSelim CC ASA 3.0