Big Garden Birdwatch 2016

Blue Tit sitting on a winter twig

This weekend, the RSPB are asking us all to spend an hour watching and recording which feathered friends visit our gardens.

Last year, more than half a million people took part in the Big Garden Birdwatch. You don’t have to go outside – you can sit in the kitchen or lounge with a cuppa and do the survey through the window! It only takes an hour and you can pick any time to suit you on either the Saturday or Sunday. There’s lots of information, including a spotters guide on the RSPB website: RSPB Big garden birdwatch

This is a great time of year to see our garden birds – without any leaves on the trees they’re much easier to spot. Plus they’re now feeding themselves up to get ready for the nesting season*.

If you don’t get many birds visiting your garden, there are things you can provide to encourage beauties like these Goldfinches:

Goldfinches on a niger seed feeder

Young Bluetit peeping out of a nestbox

Dunnock sheltering in a Hawthorn hedge


  • Feed, feed feed! You’ll get a much wider variety of birds visiting if you can provide a wider variety of food for them. These Goldfinches are gluttons for niger seed, Greenfinches go mad for sunflower seeds, the good old Robin loves a fatball or dried mealworms and peanuts seem to attract everybody! (Make sure peanuts are in a wire mesh feeder like the one in the picture – young birds can choke on whole peanuts)
  • Give them a home! You can buy bird nesting boxes to suit all kinds of birds – from an owl box to a block of flats for Sparrows! But you can also have a go at building your own – have a look at the British Trust for Ornithology website here: BTO Make a Nest Box

Whether you buy one or build your own, you need to think about where you’re going to put them and there’s some great advice on the RSPB’s page: Siting birdboxes

  • Keep them safe! Birds need somewhere safe to sit and watch out for trouble – be it from the local cats or even from larger predatory birds such as Sparrowhawks. Hedges, shrubs and trees are all vital for small garden birds as they provide security and cover. Many garden birds will also use these to build their own homes – don’t be upset if they don’t move into your birdbox, your garden may be all they need!

*The nesting season will soon be upon us and it’s important to remember that wild birds have protection under British Law as part of The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

If you think you need some work on your trees, don’t delay because now is the ideal time – the weather’s reasonable, trees are still dormant and birds haven’t yet taken up residence. For more information about the law in relation to nesting birds, have a look at our previous blog: Trees, hedges and nesting birds and if you want more information about tree work take a look here: Treework