News archive

January 2019

Friday, 11 January 2019

Coal tit perched on bramble bush

Big Garden Birdwatch 2019

What's the history of Big Garden Birdwatch?

Let's rewind the clock and start at the beginning!

It's 1979 and we're looking for a simple winter activity that our junior membership can get involved in. As it's likely to be cold and the evenings dark, we think a weekend activity in the garden would be best.

So, we asked our members to count the birds in their gardens, all at the same time, so we could work out what the UK's top 10 most common garden birds are.

Biddy Baxter - then editor of Blue Peter - liked the idea so much that she featured the survey on one of the programmes. We only expected a few hundred children to take part but, thanks to Biddy's coverage, we actually received more than 34,000 forms!

And that's how our 'one-off' activity grew into the regular event it is today. Although it wasn't until 2001 that we invited adults to join in the fun, too.

How does Big Garden Birdwatch help?

For 40 years, we've been asking you to count the birds in your garden - and you've been brilliant at it.

With over half a million people now regularly taking part, coupled with almost 40 years worth of data, Big Garden Birdwatch allows us to monitor trends and helps us understand how birds are doing.

As the format of the survey has stayed the same, the scientific data can be compared year-on-year, making your results very valuable to our scientists.

With results from so many gardens, we are able to create a 'snapshot' of bird numbers across the UK.

While some changes in bird numbers can seem scary - we've lost more than half our house sparrows and some three-quarters of our starlings - it isn't all doom and gloom. Since Birdwatch began blue tit numbers have risen by 20 per cent and the woodpigeon population has increased by a whopping 800 per cent.

Your results help us spot problems, but more importantly, they are also the first step in putting things right. This is why it's so important that we count garden birds.

What about other wildlife?

The threats to our wildlife means that it's not just birds facing tough times... it's our badgers, snakes and other animals too. So to help us get a more complete picture of the state of our wildlife, in 2014 we started to ask you to tell us about some of the other animals in your gardens.

We're going to continue including this part of the survey each year now, to help us see the trends in our other wildlife in the same way that we've been able to with birds.

The more people involved, the more we can learn, so please encourage your family, friends and neighbours to take part.

When does Big Garden Birdwatch take place?

The Big Garden Birdwatch takes place at the end of January each year (26-28 January 2019). It takes place over three days, so if you're busy over the weekend or perhaps the weather's bad, you have the option of a third day!
Maybe you can do Big Garden Birdwatch at work? We'd love to hear from you if you do!

Share your experiences on social media - don't forget to use #BigGardenBirdwatch.

Take part in the Birdwatch 2019

How will you #BigGardenBirdWatch?

Get ready for 26-28 Jan. Sign-up today to request a FREE postal pack or take part online. Once you've signed up, you'll also get FREE access to Big Garden Extra for exclusive articles, advice and celebrity interviews.


Friday, 4 January 2019

Willow Tit National Survey 2019 - 2020

Willow Tit National Survey 2019 - 2020

Willow tits are a declining species, no red listed, the second-fasted declining species in the UK, after Turtle Dove.

The Rare Breeding Birds Panel (RBBP) and RSPB are currently working to deliver a national Willow Tit survey in 2019 and 2020. They are hopeful that county-level surveys can be conducted across the known range by Willow Tit study groups, county bird clubs and other organisations. So far, Natural England and Natural Resources Wales have agreed to help fund the survey

The willow tit has been lost from large areas of the UK with southern and eastern England being the areas worst hit by willow tit decline.

A playback method (two minutes) will be used to survey Willow Tits during the pre-breeding season when the birds are territorial and covering all potentially suitable habitat in the survey area.

Two surveys are required between mid-February and mid-April.

If you are able to help, please send an email to and we will provide with further information.