RSPB Big Schools’ Birdwatch, 2 January-23 February 2018
School children across the UK will be setting up bird feeders, turning classrooms into bird hides and excitedly getting into position, to watch and count the birds in their school grounds for the 2018 RSPB Big Schools’ Birdwatch.
The survey, which takes place during the first half of spring term (2 January-23 February), is the biggest wildlife survey in schools. Children are asked to spend just one hour watching and recording the birds in their outdoor space, then send their results to the RSPB.
73,000 school children and teachers took part in the birdwatch in 2017 counting more than 100,000 birds. Now in its 16th year, the survey helps to track numbers of birds in school grounds, providing an insight into which species are doing well or not so well and brings children closer to nature.
The blackbird remained the most common playground visitor for the ninth year in succession with over 88% schools spotting at least one. The top three was rounded off by starling and woodpigeon.
Big Schools’ Birdwatch is a fun and educational activity and is free to every school in the UK. It’s flexible enough to fit into a lesson or during lunchtime and links well to the curriculum or project work. It also provides valuable information on how some of our familiar birds are doing.
It also gives children an opportunity to get outside, experience and learn about the nature local to them. The decline in children’s access to nature in the last three generations is well evidenced. And yet research shows that when children are connected to nature it has a positive impact on their education, physical health, emotional wellbeing, and their personal and social skills.
The Birdwatch takes just one hour and teachers can pick any day during the first half of spring term to take part. It works across a wide age and ability range and there’s plenty of flexibility to run it as simply as teachers would like either as the centrepiece of cross-curricular studies, project work, or a way to improve their outdoor space.
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.
Since its launch in 2002, more than 70 different species have been recorded in school grounds, ranging from starlings and house sparrows, to red kites and green woodpeckers.
Everything schools need to take part is available to download from the RSPB website including lesson plans, counting charts, stories and arts and crafts. Visit: rspb.org.uk/schoolswatch.
You can also hear from lower school teacher Kate Sefton on what it’s like to take part in Big Schools’ Birdwatch.
Follow @RSPB_Learning for the latest Big Schools’ Birdwatch news.