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Get ready for Big Garden Birdwatch!

Last modified: 14 January 2015

House sparrow (female)

Image: Ray Kennedy

The world's biggest wildlife survey is just around the corner and RSPB NI needs you to help make it the best ever!

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 we have been asking people to count the birds which visit their garden to help create a 'snapshot' picture of bird numbers in the UK.

That’s why we're just as pleased to hear from you whether you've seen several exotic species, just a few of the most common birds, or even no birds at all!

Of the 127,700 birds counted in Northern Ireland during last year’s Birdwatch, house sparrows were the most commonly seen. Despite the wet and windy conditions during the two-day Birdwatch, these cheeky little birds were spotted in 66 per cent of 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 the 24 or 25 January.

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 RSPB.

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 www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch.

Children can also get involved by counting the birds which visit their school grounds in any hour between 5 January 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 www.rspb.org.uk/schoolswatch.

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