Record numbers participate in RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch


More than one million people took part in the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch this winter – more than double the amount who participated the previous year.

Now in its 42nd year, the Big Garden Birdwatch is a chance for people of all ages to count the number of birds that visit their garden helping the RSPB build up a picture of how they are doing. This year over a million people across the UK took part, counting 17 million birds.

Some 2.6 million reports of House Sparrow were received during the latest RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch (Neil Loverock).

Hopes were high for a bumper participation this year after results from a YouGov survey revealed the pandemic is making the public more aware of nature in their local area, with 41% seeing wildlife near their homes over the last 12 months that they had never noticed before.  

The YouGov survey of 2,071 adults across the UK revealed 63% of people said watching the birds and hearing their song added to their enjoyment of life since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, with more than half of those surveyed (51%) believing the pandemic has made them more aware of the nature around them.  

Over the first three days of submissions alone, numbers were up 85% compared to the same time period in 2020. Beccy Speight, RSPB CEO, said: "We have been blown away by the enthusiasm with which people have taken part in the Birdwatch this year. Lockdowns have brought few benefits, but the last year has either started or reignited a love of nature for many people, right on their doorsteps."

The event held over the last weekend in January revealed House Sparrow held on to its number one spot with more than 2.6 million recorded sightings over the weekend, but 16 out of the top 20 bird species showed declines in average counts compared to last year. Only European Robin, Blackbird, Carrion Crow and Song Thrush saw an increase on 2020.  

Common Starling slid down the ranking from 2nd place for the first time since 2010, with numbers down 83% since 1979. Further declines were recorded for Greenfinch and Chaffinch, with the lowest average for both types of bird ever recorded for Big Garden Birdwatch.

Throughout the first half of the spring term the nation's school children took part in the RSPB’s Big Schools Birdwatch. The UK-wide survey of birds in school grounds saw over 21,000 school children and their teachers spend an hour in nature counting the birds. Woodpigeon was the most numerous species seen with an average of 9 per school; and was seen in 85% of all schools that took part. Eurasian Blackbird was a close second with an average of 8 per school.