School children across the UK will be filling up bird feeders, turning classrooms into bird hides and creating wildlife friendly bakes in preparation for watching and counting the birds in their school grounds for the RSPB’s Big Schools’ Birdwatch.
The Birdwatch – which takes place during the first half of the Spring term (5 January – 21 February) – is a chance for children to participate in a UK-wide citizen science project and generate real life data. The Birdwatch involves children watching and counting the birds that visit their outdoor space, before sending the results to the RSPB.
With over a million school children taking part since its launch in 2002, the RSPB Big Schools Birdwatch is the perfect opportunity to enrich the curriculum through outdoor learning, even during the winter months.
Rachael White, RSPB Big Schools’ Birdwatch Co-ordinator said: “For over 20 years, Big Schools’ Birdwatch has provided children an opportunity to contribute to a UK-wide citizen science project which can deliver valuable curriculum learning. The birdwatch is a great way to monitor the impact of nature friendly changes in school grounds too. Has the wildlife-friendly planting increased the numbers of birds you see? It’s easy for teachers to deliver and does not require lengthy planning and preparation time.”
Over the last two decades, more than 70 difference species have been recorded in school grounds, giving the RSPB an astonishing amount of insight into how our wildlife is faring.
The woodpigeon claimed the number one spot in the Big School Birdwatch rankings as the most commonly seen bird with an average of 9 per school spotted in 2021. The blackbird, last year’s number one, dropped to second place with the house sparrow completing the top three.
The Big Schools Birdwatch is a free activity. Teachers are sent a pack to help make delivery of the Birdwatch simple. Teachers can pick any day during the first half of the Spring term to take part, with the flexibility to run it as a one off or as the centre piece of a cross-curricular study, enrichment activity or a way for the children to improve their outdoor space as part of completing their Wild Challenge Award.
Many schools prepare for the event in advance by taking measures to give nature a home in their school grounds, such as 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.
For your free Big Schools’ Birdwatch pack visit rspb.org.uk/schoolswatch
The pack includes everything a teacher will need to take part, including bird fact files, survey sheets, advice on how to get the most out of their Birdwatch and help getting started on a Wild Challenge Award.
Registration for Big Schools’ Birdwatch 2022 is now open.