The RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch falls this week. For 40 years, the RSPB have been asking us to count the birds we see in the garden over the course of an hour. This gives us valuable insight into bird numbers in the UK. Five years ago, they asked us to start counting other types of wildlife too.
Over the last 40 years the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch has allowed the RSPB to monitor trends in bird numbers. There have been some alarming changes – we’ve lost half or our sparrow population and three quarters of our starling population.
So keep a keen eye on the garden this weekend and a pencil and paper close at hand. Sign up to get your pack here (there are exclusive features for those choosing the paperless option), and keep up with the conversation using the #BigGardenBirdWatch hashtags.
How to get birds into your garden
Feed them. Put a feeder full of nuts and seeds into the garden and watch the birds start to arrive. Birds especially like peanuts, these and these. Putting food out for the birds helps them during winter when food sources are scarce, which in turn promotes more biodiversity in the garden. This year we found several different species of fungi in the soil directly underneath our bird feeders!
Make a bird house. Take a chilled afternoon to build a bird house with the children. There are some great instructions on how to make a bird house here. Starling populations have massively declined since the 1970s. Luckily, they’re fond of bird houses and will settle in happily.
Grow some plants. Which do you think a bird might find more inviting: a lush cottage garden, with lots of nooks and crannies for bugs to hide in and some tasty vegetation growing, or a patch of astroturf?
Get a bird bath. My late grandmother had a bird bath at the end of the garden and I loved watching the birds take a dip from afar. Make sure there is plenty of space: birds will need a good view to keep an eye out for cats. Birds will visit most often in summer when water is scarce, but they visit in winter too.
How many birds visited your garden over the weekend?