Annual survey to gauge the health of bird population

The world’s largest garden wildlife survey returns this month, with hundreds of thousands of people expected to watch and count the UK’s garden birds for the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch.

Mark Dowie
Thursday, 19th January 2023, 12:00pm
Annual survey to gauge the health of bird population

Over 44,000 people took part in Scotland last year, counting more than 830,000 birds.

This year’s event takes place over January 27, 28 and 29 and people are asked to spend just one hour watching and recording the birds in their gardens, balconies or local parks, then submitting their results to the RSPB.

This year marks the 44th Big Garden Birdwatch. Starting in 1979, it has since become a much-loved annual event that helps to give the RSPB a valuable snapshot of how garden birds are faring across the UK.

Over that time, 172 million birds have been counted and nearly 11 million hours spent watching garden birds.

Anne McCall, RSPB Scotland director, said that last year’s event showed some promising results.

She said: “To help nature, we must first understand it. Big Garden Birdwatch is when we all come together to help build a picture of how our wild birds are doing.

"With the climate and nature crisis unfolding around us, it is more important than ever to grow that understanding.

"You don’t have to be an expert - anyone can join in and all of the information is useful. If you don’t have a garden, visit your nearest park or greenspace. Or simply spend an hour looking out from your window or balcony.

“Last year, we found out that the greenfinch, a species that had been struggling, may be beginning to recover.

“We recorded a welcome increase in the beautiful goldfinch. Perhaps most importantly, everyone taking part stepped back from everyday stresses and strains, and spent an hour simply focusing on the wildlife around them. Everyone can benefit from that – why not join us this year?”

To take part, watch the birds for one hour at some point over the three days. Only count the birds that land, not those flying over and highest number of each bird species sees at any one time, not the total seen during the hour.

Registration for the Big Garden Birdwatch is now open and to take part online, visit

A free Big Garden Birdwatch guide, which includes a bird identification chart, top tips for your birdwatch, RSPB shop voucher, plus advice on how to help you attract wildlife to your garden is also available via the website or by texting BIRD to 70030.

The parallel event RSPB Big Schools’ Birdwatch began on January 6 and will continue until February 20. In 2021, it celebrated its 20th anniversary of connecting children with nature in their school grounds. Since its launch, over a million school children and teachers have taken part. Further information can be found at

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