People in Lancashire are being asked to help local wildlife by taking part in the annual Big Garden Birdwatch on January 26 and 27.
Almost 600,000 people across the UK took part in the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch in 2012. Between them they counted more than nine million birds.
Joanna Keene, of the RSPB, said: “Taking part in the survey is fun and simple. Just spend one hour, at any time over Big Garden Birdwatch weekend, noting down the highest number of each bird species you see in your garden or local park at any one time. You’ve then got three weeks to tell us your results, either online at www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch or in the post.”
Now in its 34th year, the survey provides the RSPB with an important snapshot of garden bird populations in winter and has helped to highlight some dramatic declines in UK garden birds.
In the first survey in 1979, an average of 15 starlings were seen per garden, but that fell to an average of just three starlings per garden in 2012, the lowest level ever. House sparrow numbers have fallen by two thirds over the lifetime of the survey too.
Joanna added: “Everyone who takes part in the Big Garden Birdwatch is contributing to the world’s biggest wildlife survey and helping us find out more about some of our most-loved garden birds.
“The declines of starlings and sparrows over the last 30 years or so have been alarming, but Big Garden Birdwatch has helped us find out more about their numbers and distribution across UK gardens, and that has been the first step in helping to put things right.”
Some bird species have fared considerably better over the years. Sightings of popular species like blue tits, great tits and coal tits in gardens have increased since 1979. Goldfinches, which were absent from the Big Garden Birdwatch top 15 in the early years, have featured regularly as a top 15 species since 2004.
Despites recent declines, last year’s survey revealed that the most common bird seen in Lancashire was the starling with an average of five birds per garden.
Over the weekend of the Big Garden Birdwatch, the RSPB’s Ribble Discovery Centre at Lytham St Annes is running a Bird ID challenge to help people prepare for the survey. It is also giving visitors the opportunity to make bird feeders that they can use for the Birdwatch. For more information, call 01253 796292.