Today marks the beginning of this year’s RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch.
Over the next three days (until Sunday 31 January 2021), the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds are encouraging people across England, Wales, and Scotland to spend just one hour counting the birds they spot in their garden, from their balcony, or in their local park. So grab yourself a cuppa, as well as maybe a notepad, pen, and some binoculars (if you have them) and make yourself comfy!
Here are just a few of the birds you might see this weekend:
One of the most famous birds found in Britain, the robin is a highly territorial creature that regularly visits bird feeders. Both males and females sport the same orange breast, and they are most likely to be found anywhere that offers dense shabby vegetation and, preferably, a few trees.
Commonly referred to as pigeons, truly wild rock doves are mostly found in the northern and western parts of Britain. It’s thought that feral pigeons (the ones we see fighting over scraps of food in our towns and cities) came from captive rock doves that had escaped domestic life and established their own populations in the wild.
Starlings were once found in abundance however, due to a rapid decline in their numbers, these birds are now on the BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) conservation “Red List”. At times they can be confused with blackbirds but it’s important to remember that starlings are smaller and shorter-tailed, and will often be seen walking instead of hopping.
Blue tits are the most common tit in Britain. These charismatic birds can be easily identified by their bright yellow bodies and blue caps. They are often found close to well-grown hedgerows, parks, and gardens. Blue tits lay up to 16 eggs every year, timing their hatching with the spring flush of woodland caterpillars.
Famous for their love of shiny objects, magpies are incredibly intelligent and adaptable birds. Absent in north-west Scotland and often scarce in rural areas, magpies commonly stay close to where they hatched. Their preferred home tends to be in relatively open country, with lots of scattered trees and bushes to nest in.
Getting involved in this important citizen science means that you will be helping provide the RSPB with a snapshot of how birds are faring across the UK. Even if during that one hour you didn’t see a single bird land in your garden, on the ground below your balcony, or in the park, it still counts.