The World’s biggest citizen science wildlife count takes place this weekend. It is a very simple and accessible event which requires each observer to sit for one hour in their garden or a local park. Their observations are then entered to the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch site.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds is the prominent bird organisation in Great Britain. Their Big Garden Birdwatch was instigated 37 years ago and is now reputed to be the World’s biggest wildlife survey. This may come as a surprise to those who take part in the Christmas Bird Count in the USA and to me too, but the RSPB claims over half a million respondents counted 8 million birds last year. That’s a lot of people connecting with nature in their immediate environment.

The reason for its success is its simplicity. Very little effort is involved and the birds are likely to be familiar garden species, easily recognised. Just one hour, with a cup of tea and some carrot cake, looking out the window and counting birds. How easy is that? It is marketed as a family activity and limited to one hour to allow for young attention spans. The RSPB concede that it may not be a perfect census method, but encouraging people to become involved can be as beneficial to birds as an accurate count.

The serious number crunching comes once the sightings have been collated and 37 years of historical data has thrown up few interesting details. Greenfinch populations have plummeted as Goldfinch numbers have soared for example. The information is invaluable to conservation bodies which can use it to spot problems and plan solutions.

So if you are in the UK this weekend, 28th to 30th January, visit the website for details and then take an hour out to count the wildlife that is counting on us.


Written by Redgannet
Redgannet has been working for over 33 years as a crew member/flight attendant and enjoys the well-ventilated air of the outdoors. The nom de blog, Redgannet, was adopted to add an air of mystery and to make himself more attractive to women. His father first whetted Redguga's appetite for all things natural by buying him his first pair of 7x35s and a copy of Thorburn's Birds. Having no mentor beyond an indulgent parent, he spent the first season hoping for an Egyptian Vulture at the bird table in his English garden. His most memorable birding moment is seeing an Egyptian Vulture with those same binoculars 26 years later. Redgannet is married to Canon, but his heart and half of his house belongs to Helen and their son Joseph. He is looking forward to communicating with people who don't ask if he is searching for the "feathered variety" of bird.