The world’s biggest wildlife survey needs you

Nature.
Nature.

Don’t worry if you don’t know the difference between a sparrow and a starling – the RSPB still wants you to take part in the world’s biggest wildlife survey.

The Big Garden Birdwatch is a fun and educational activity for the whole family to enjoy together and even if it’s too chilly to go outside, you can take part in this citizen science project indoors in your pyjamas!

For the past 36 years the nature charity has been asking people to count the birds which visit their garden to help create a ‘snapshot’ picture of bird numbers in the UK and last year, more than 4,000 people in County Antrim took part.

Of the 127,700 birds counted during last year’s Birdwatch, house sparrows were the most commonly seen in County Antrim and across Northern Ireland as a whole. Despite the wet and windy conditions during the two-day Birdwatch, these cheeky little birds were spotted in 63 per cent of local gardens.

More unusual sightings which have been reported to RSPB Northern Ireland during previous Birdwatch surveys include red kite, great spotted woodpecker and even a peregrine falcon.

If you’d like to get involved this year it couldn’t be easier - you can even go to your local park if you don’t have a garden. Just spend one hour counting the birds you see at any time during January 24 and 25.

When the Birdwatch kicks off you’ll be able to use the online bird counting tool to identify and record the birds as you see them directly on your laptop, tablet or smartphone. You can also take part with pen and paper and then enter your results on your computer or by filling in a paper survey form and posting it to the charity.

Participants are also asked to log some of the other wildlife they see in their gardens – from squirrels to hedgehogs - to help build an overall picture of how important our green spaces are for giving all types of animals a home.

You can register to take part in Big Garden Birdwatch 2015 now at rspb.org.uk/birdwatch.

Children can also get involved by counting the birds which visit their school grounds in any hour between January 5 and 13 February. Across Northern Ireland almost 6,500 children and young people took part in Big Schools’ Birdwatch last year.

More than 200 schools across every county took part and the starling was the most commonly spotted species by eagle-eyed pupils, closely followed by blackbird and hooded crow.

Teachers can register to take part in Big Schools’ Birdwatch now at rspb.org.uk/schoolswatch.