Thousands of schoolchildren across Scotland will be swapping books for binoculars this term to take part in the UK’s biggest schools wildlife survey.
The RSPB’s Big Schools’ Birdwatch 2017 takes place during the first half of the spring term, with schools able to take part from now until February 17. The survey helps children discover the wonderful wildlife they share their school grounds with, whilst providing a helpful insight into which species are thriving or declining.
According to research conducted by the RSPB2, one in five children are disconnected from nature. Big Schools’ Birdwatch aims to inspire children to care about the natural world around them in the hope they’ll want to help protect it for future generations.
Last year almost 7,500 pupils from schools all across Scotland took part by counting the birds that visited their school grounds, and it is hoped even more will take part this year.
Over the years, more than 70 different species have been recorded in UK school grounds, ranging from starlings and house sparrows, to red kites and green woodpeckers. In Scotland the blackbird remained the most common playground visitor in 2016 with 86 per cent of participating schools spotting one of these birds. The top three was rounded off by starlings in second place, and carrion crows in third.
Since its launch in 2002, the Big Schools’ Birdwatch has provided many opportunities for children and teachers to learn about how to give nature a home in their school grounds. Many schools prepare for the event in advance by putting up feeders and nestboxes and making bird cake. Seeing and counting the birds coming to their feeders during the Big Schools Birdwatch is the perfect reward for their efforts.
Judy Paul of RSPB Scotland said: “We hope that the excitement of taking part in Big Schools’ Birdwatch will inspire children across Scotland to explore the natural world around them, especially what they can find on their doorstep, as well as showing them the role that citizen science has to play.”