This weekend up and down the country, thousands of people will be sat by their windows counting birds.  It’s the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch weekend again – are you going to be counting too?


The Big Garden Birdwatch has been counting birds since 1979, giving the RSPB lots of data on trends in the bird species visiting our gardens.  Among the top 15 birds spotted last year were blackbirds, blue tits, goldfinches and sparrows.  Over the years the count has picked up declines in numbers of blackbirds, robins, house sparrows and mistle thrushes, and last year the lowest number of starlings for 30 years was recorded.  At the same time, numbers of magpies, wrens and collared doves have increased.


The birdwatch is a great example of ‘citizen science’ – basically getting you and me to help collect data that will contribute to science research.  We’ll be doing our bit tomorrow – sitting at the kitchen window for an hour and hoping to see more than just sparrows on the bird feeders.  There’s nothing wrong with sparrows, of course, we just seem to have an awful lot of them here and very little else dares approach the food when there’s a gang of sparrows feeding.  In an attempt to lure more birds into the garden I’ve been buying a range of food for their breakfast.  Along with the usual seed mix, fat balls and peanuts, I’ve invested in some niger seed to try to attract the goldfinches down from the tree where they sit and watch the sparrows eating.  We’ll see if it works…