The world’s largest school wildlife survey returns, with tens of thousands of school children watching and counting the UK’s birds for the RSPB’s Big Schools’ Birdwatch.
The Birdwatch – which takes place during the first half of the Spring term (6 January – 20 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 school grounds or 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 has become a much-loved annual event, that helps give the RSPB a valuable snapshot of how our school birds are doing in the UK. With birds now facing so many challenges due to the nature and climate emergency, every count matters.
Rachael Albon, RSPB Big Schools’ Birdwatch Co-ordinator said: “Big Schools’ Birdwatch offers children the chance to contribute to a UK-wide citizen science project in their school grounds. This year we have made the Birdwatch even better by including historical results data so classes can compare their sightings with national data from previous years. It’s a great opportunity to provide a valuable learning experience and, together, be part of something bigger!”
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 7 per school spotted in 2022. The blackbird took second place with the carrion crow completing the top three.
Rachael added: “Whatever you see – one blackbird, twenty sparrows or no birds at all – it all counts. It helps us build that vital overall picture of how our school birds are faring from one year to the next. With so much challenging our birds now, it’s more important than ever to submit your results. Our school birds are counting on you!”
The Big Schools’ Birdwatch counts as one activity towards the RSPB’s free Wild Challenge award. This award scheme inspires pupils to learn through nature by choosing from more than 20 other activities. [note 3]
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.
Registration for Big Schools’ Birdwatch 2023 is now open. 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.
The Big Schools’ Birdwatch is the school version of the Big Garden Birdwatch – the world’s largest garden wildlife survey. The event will take place over three days on 27, 28 and 29 January 2023. Further information can be found on the RSPB website rspb.org.uk/birdwatch