What Will You See In The Big Garden Birdwatch?

World’s largest garden wildlife survey returns, 28-30 January 2022

  • In 2021, more than a million people across the UK took part – making it the biggest Birdwatch ever!
  • 17 million birds were counted over a three-day period with the house sparrow keeping its title as the UK’s most seen bird.
  • Over its four decades, Big Garden Birdwatch has highlighted the winners and losers in the garden bird world, giving the RSPB an astonishing amount of insight into how our wildlife is faring.


The world’s largest garden wildlife survey returns, with hundreds of thousands of people watching and counting the UK’s garden birds over the last weekend in January for the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch.


Over a million people took part in 2021, counting 17 million birds – making it the biggest Birdwatch ever!


Over the past year, we’ve seen how important the natural world is to our mental health and wellbeing. There has been a surge in interest in the nature on our doorsteps and many people have come to rely on garden birds to bring joy and comfort in these unsettling times.


This year’s event takes place on 28, 29 and 30 January 2022. The public is asked to spend just one hour watching and recording the birds in their garden, balcony or local park, then send their results to the RSPB.


Just one hour every year, for the last four decades, has made the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch the largest garden wildlife citizen science project. Now in its 43rd year, over 150 million birds have been counted giving the RSPB an astonishing amount of insight into how our wildlife is faring.


Anne McCall, Director of RSPB Scotland, said: “Huge enthusiasm and love of nature were wonderfully evident across Scotland during Big Garden Birdwatch 2021.  The last two years have reminded us all that nature is a part of our lives, reviving and supporting our wellbeing and mental health. Big Garden Birdwatch allows everyone to put aside some time just to concentrate on nature – and, at the same time, help to gather the information we need to do more to protect and restore wildlife.  When you take part in the Birdwatch, you are helping to build an annual snapshot of how our birdlife is faring across Scotland and the UK. It is only by building understanding that we can protect wildlife. Nature is in crisis – but together, we can take meaningful action. And we can all have some collective fun too.”


For four decades, Big Garden Birdwatch has highlighted the winners and losers in the garden bird world. The house sparrow remained at the top of the Big Garden Birdwatch rankings as the most commonly seen garden bird with 2.6 million sighted in 2021. The blue tit and starling completed the top three.


While house sparrows and starlings may be the UK’s most commonly sighted birds, a closer look at Big Garden Birdwatch data shows that numbers have in fact dropped dramatically since the Birdwatch began in 1979. House sparrows are down 58% while starlings are down 83%.

To take part in the Big Garden Birdwatch 2022, watch the birds in your garden or local park 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.

Paul Walton, Head of Habitats and Species for RSPB Scotland, said: “Big Garden Birdwatch gives everyone a chance to spend a little time just enjoying the wildlife around us. But it also allows us to engage in real science. It is very simple to do and to report – just tell us what you see in your garden or local park. That simplicity is its strength. So many people engage, right across the country, that Big Garden Birdwatch is a survey of enormous scale. The picture it gives us across the years is unique and valuable information on how winter garden birds are faring nationally.”


The parallel event RSPB Big Schools’ Birdwatch takes place during the first half of spring term, 5 January – 21 February 2022. 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 www.rspb.org.uk/schoolswatch.


For your FREE Big Garden Birdwatch guide, which includes a bird identification chart, top tips for your birdwatch, RSPB shop voucher, plus advice on how to help you attract wildlife to your garden, text BIRD to 70030 or visit www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch  

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