Big Garden Birdwatch in Galloway this weekend

The RSPB is calling on all local budding and regular birders to support this year’s Big Garden Birdwatch which will take place towards the end of the month.

The activity is the biggest garden wildlife survey in the world and since its launch in 1979, the Big Garden Birdwatch has provided RSPB Scotland with information about changes in numbers of garden birds in winter, and helped alert conservationists to any worrying declines.

Results from the Big Garden Birdwatch have highlighted large declines in populations of starlings, house sparrows and greenfinches.

In contrast, goldfinches, long-tailed tits and great spotted woodpeckers have become much commoner garden birds.

Participants are also being asked to log some of the other wildlife they see in their gardens.

RSPB Scotland wants to know whether people ever see deer, squirrels, badgers, hedgehogs, frogs and toads in their gardens to help build an overall picture of how important gardens are for giving all types of wildlife a home.

Once RSPB Scotland knows which species people are regularly seeing, it will also be able to tailor its advice on giving nature a home so that people can help their wild visitors nest, feed and breed effectively.

The organisation’s Big Schools’ Birdwatch is also currently underway and will run up until Friday, February 13.

Every school or group that submits its results before February 20 will be sent a certificate and free personalised minibeast poster as a thank you for taking part.

It only takes an hour and works across a wide age and ability range and can be run as the centrepiece of cross-curricular studies, project work, or as part of work to improve school grounds. Participants will also provide the RSPB with further data as well as helping to give nature a home at their schools.

Further information about how to take part at home or at school is available from rspb.org.uk/birdwatch and www.rspb.org.uk/schoolswatch.

Which birds you’ll see can vary depending on where you live, what food you use and where your food is placed. But one thing’s for certain: spend a little time preparing the ideal environment for our feathered friends and you’re sure to give nature a home in your garden.

Maybe you’ll see birds that like hanging feeders such as Blue tits, Long-tailed tits and Great tits. Or birds that feed on the ground such as Collared doves, Blackbirds, Dunnock and Wrens. For these birds, scatter food on your lawn or use a ground feeding tray or hopper well clear of cover to avoid lurking cats.

Some birds will feed on the ground. They’ll also feed at hanging feeders. In fact, as long as they get their food, some of our most popular garden birds really don’t give a tweet about where they get it from – look our for Blackcaps, House sparrows, Bullfinch, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Robins, Starling and Siskins.

You canhelp the RSPB by texting BIRD to 70800 to donate £5.