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Take an hour to help yourself and nature this Big Garden Birdwatch weekend


The world’s largest garden wildlife survey returns this weekend, with the RSPB calling on people across the UK to help wildlife and support their own wellbeing by spending one hour taking part in Big Garden Birdwatch 2023.

 

Increasing evidence shows spending time outdoors and making a greater connection with nature can help to combat conditions including stress, anxiety, fatigue and depression.

 


A new YouGov poll commissioned by the RSPB found 91% of UK adults agree that seeing birds and hearing birdsong have a positive impact on mental health and wellbeing. The survey also found a similar number of people (88%) feel spending time outdoors enjoying the natural world is important to them, with more than half stating it is very important (53%).

 

This weekend (January 27-29) hundreds of thousands of people will make that special link with wildlife on their doorstep, and at the same time help the RSPB to build a greater understanding of how the UK’s garden birds are faring.

 

Almost 700,000 people took part in last year’s event, between them counting 11 million birds.

 


Dr Amir Khan, the RSPB’s president, said:


Working as a GP, I know just how important accessing green spaces is for our physical and mental wellbeing. Watching the Blue Tits and Bullfinches enjoying the feeders in my garden is a constant source of comfort for me, and being on the frontline of the NHS I am very aware that comfort is something we all need now more than ever. 

 

“The RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch is a fantastic annual event, helping people across the UK to make a connection with the natural world. Spending an hour watching and counting the birds in our gardens and green spaces over the Birdwatch weekend is a really simple way to get started – it’s great for nature and it’s great for us too.”

 


The new poll highlights the importance people in the UK place on taking time out of their lives to spend in nature. More than two-thirds of those surveyed (69%) said they use free time to enjoy a garden, local park and/or a nearby greenspace at least once a week, including 15% who do so every day.

 

This year’s Big Garden Birdwatch takes place on 27, 28 and 29 January. People are asked to spend just one hour watching and recording the birds that land in their garden, balcony or local park, then send their results to the RSPB.

 

Since the Birdwatch began in 1979, more than 172 million birds have been counted and nearly 11 million hours spent watching garden birds. The much-loved annual event helps give the RSPB a valuable snapshot of how our garden birds are doing. With species facing so many challenges due to the nature and climate emergency, every count matters.


 


Beccy Speight, the RSPB’s Chief Executive, said:


“The birds we see in our gardens, from our balconies, and in our parks, are a lively, colourful and endlessly fascinating part of all our lives, offering a real connection to the natural world. By taking part in the Birdwatch, you and hundreds of thousands like you, play an important role in helping us understand how UK birds are doing. Join us for Big Garden Birdwatch 2023 and together let’s take action to protect and preserve our birds and wildlife for generations to come.”

 

According to RSPB NI, the House Sparrow remained at the top of the Big Garden Birdwatch ranking in Northern Ireland as the most commonly seen garden bird in 2022. Starlings and Blue tits were in second and third positions respectively.

 

Over its four decades, Big Garden Birdwatch has highlighted the winners and losers in the garden bird world. It was first to alert the RSPB to the decline in Song Thrush numbers, which are down a shocking 81% compared to the first Big Garden Birdwatch in 1979. This species was a firm fixture in the top 10 in 1979, but by 2009, its numbers were less than half those recorded in 1979. It came in at 20 in the rankings last year, seen in just 8% of gardens.

 


RSPB experts say the recent cold snap to hit the UK might well have an impact on this year’s results. Smaller birds including Wrens and Long-tailed Tits tend to struggle in harsh winter weather. At the same time, less frequent garden visitors including Bramblings and Redpolls, might turn up in search of food. The RSPB said anyone with garden feeders should maintain good hygiene by cleaning feeders at least once a week and provide fresh water each day to reduce the risk of disease spreading.

 

To take part in the Big Garden Birdwatch 2023, watch the birds from your balcony, in your garden or in your local green space for one hour at some point over the three days. Only count the birds that land, not those flying over. Tell us the highest number of each bird species you see at any one time – not the total you see in the hour.

 

Beccy added: “Whatever you see - one Blackbird, twenty sparrows or no birds at all - it all counts. It helps us build that vital overall picture of how our garden birds are faring from one year to the next. With so much challenging our birds now, it’s more important than ever to submit your results. Our garden birds are counting on you!”

 

Big Garden Birdwatch Live also returns for 2023. Tune in via the RSPB’s YouTube channel throughout the weekend for expert commentary, interviews and chats with special guests and wildlife experts. Special guests including Dr Amir Khan, Chris Packham, Indy Kiemel Greene and Lucy Hodson will be at BGBW Live HQ in Norfolk, with Megan McCubbin joining from the Cairngorms in Scotland.


It is also an opportunity to ask RSPB experts and guests any questions you may have, and to share pictures and stories with the Big Garden Birdwatch community.


The parallel event, RSPB Big Schools’ Birdwatch, takes place during the first half of spring term, 6 January – 20 February 2023. In 2021, it celebrated its 20th anniversary of connecting children with nature in their school grounds. Since its launch, over a million school children and teachers have taken part.


Further information can be found at:


 

To take part in Big Garden Birdwatch, visit:


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