Families blog


We're about more than just birds (though obviously we like them a lot).

Families blog

Here are some ideas and guidance to help your family make the most of the UK's fantastic wildlife
  • Gökotta: Dawn chorus the Scandinavian way

    Recently, native English speakers have been adopting Scandinavian ideas to improve their well being. 

    For example:

    Hygge: a Danish word referring to a feeling of cosiness or contentment

    Lagom: a Swedish word meaning 'just the right amount' or 'in balance'.

    Just in time for spring, we've discovered gökotta. It's a Swedish word meaning 'rising at dawn to listen to birdsong'. Obviously we at the RSPB are most excited about this. 

    Early starts can be something to groan at, especially when you've got kids to get ready, but the stillness of early mornings mixed with the symphony of a dawn chorus is a true wonder of nature. 

    And unlike many wildlife spectacles your kids don't need to be quiet because the birds are making such a row anyway. 

    This Easter, experience a dawn chorus by throwing open the windows and listening from your bed, or get wrapped up and go for the full gökotta experience.

    Either way, experiencing it counts towards your Wild Challenge, so why not take one step closer to your bronze, silver or gold award?

    Despite their small size, wrens have a loud and distinctive call. 

    The science of the dawn chorus

    What we call the dawn chorus is predominantly birds calling in the early morning to defend a breeding territory, attract a mate or calling to others in a social group. 

    They choose the early morning because the stillness of the air before the sun starts to warm it means that sound travels more clearly.

    It's not just birds that choose this time of day to broadcast their messages. In the tropics some monkeys and apes use their position in the tops of trees and the cool, still air to make themselves heard 20 times further than at later times in the day. 

    Studies have shown that birds respond to recorded song with responsive or competing calls. So once one bird starts in a given area, it may well set off a cascade until they're all at it! 

  • A thankyou for joining in with this year's Sleepout

    The Big Wild Sleepout is all about connecting more families to nature in a fun way, but in order to justify doing it every year we need to find out how many people are taking part.

    To do this, we've asked you to participate in our Wild Challenge, which you signed up to as part of registering for the Sleepout.

    Simply complete one of these activities in your Wild Challenge before the end of August:

    Sleepout activities

    To say thank you to all of you who took part, we've got 11 great prizes to give away and by taking part in the Sleepout you're automatically entered into a prize draw to win one of them.

    One is a big prize courtesy of our Sleepout partner Rohan worth £600.

    The others are worth around £60 and are supplied by our very own shop. You get everything you can see here:

    Check out our T&Cs for more information. 

    We hope you had a great time getting closer to nature at night, why not share your experiences with us on Facebook too? 


  • The Rocky Shores of Tyneside

    This Wild Parks post comes from Sue Overfield - Family Events Officer for Newcastle and Gateshead. On this occasion she's reporting on our work at a lighthouse! 

    This year has been the first that the RSPB Wild Parks team has been working in partnership with St. Mary’s Lighthouse, Whitley Bay, and we are thrilled at how many connections to nature we have been able to make so far through this wonderful new partnership.

    The lighthouse manager, Adam Kelsey of the North Tyneside Council, and his team have been hugely supportive of our efforts to engage children with the diversity of wildlife and habitats that St. Mary’s beaches and rocky shores have to offer. The council run a range of events here that you can find out about on their Facebook page

    While most of our RSPB Wild Parks activities are hosted in urban green spaces, it is fantastic to have the opportunity to encourage children to also recognise the importance of our coastal wildlife havens, and can only enhance our offering of free public events in such spaces across the 17 cities that we’re working in on this project.

    Look out for these banners in your city, and make use of our free family activities in your local park

    Wildlife fun for all

    We are very lucky to have been blessed with warm weather so far this season and it has brought many families out to enjoy our wild spaces, even on those occasions when the winds have been so strong that we have been unable to erect our feather banners! It is a delight to see families crouched around the rock pools with their shrimp nets and buckets, armed with our Rockpool Detective, Seabird Spotter and Wildlife Scavenger Hunt sheets, not to mention heaps of enthusiasm.

    What did our explorers discover?

    Even without nets and buckets, this location offers the perfect opportunity to discover a variety of species: from shore crabs to prawns, hermit crabs, beadlet anemones and tiny fish such as blennys and butterfish, not to mention the huge number and variety of seabirds.

    However, one of the biggest thrills is seeing the many grey seals which haul themselves onto the rocks behind the lighthouse, or seeing them ‘bottling’ in the shallows with their noses pointing straight up while they survey the shoreline.

    We’re really excited to have been invited back to St. Mary’s on several more Sundays this summer, and you will find us beside the causeway leading to St. Mary’s island and lighthouse. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to find out when our FREE tide dependent activities are on offer.

    Facebook: RSPB Saltholme & North East England

    Twitter: @RSPB_N_England

    Search for events near you: rspb.org.uk/wildparks