Last modified: 22 January 2016
RSPB Northern Ireland is encouraging local people to take part in the world’s biggest wildlife survey on 30/31 January.
The Big Garden Birdwatch is a chance for everyone to actively help nature by donating just one hour to count the birds and other wildlife in their gardens. The data gathered from this survey provides a vital health-check of the wildlife that we share our homes with.
Amy Colvin from RSPB NI said: “It couldn’t be easier to take part in the survey. Pick up a survey leaflet from your local RSPB NI nature reserve or visit www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch.
“Then make yourself a cuppa and spend one hour during the Birdwatch weekend counting the visitors to your garden!”
Last year almost half a million people across the UK, including more than 22,000 in Northern Ireland, took part in the Big Garden Birdwatch.
Of the 127,700 birds counted in NI, house sparrows were the most commonly seen.
The Big Garden Birdwatch also asks participants to record other garden wildlife, including hedgehogs and squirrels.
As temperatures drop, the natural food available for wildlife becomes scarcer and so our feathered friends are more likely to visit our gardens in the hope of supplementing their diets.
Birds need calorie-rich food at this time of year, to help them maintain their fat reserves. Opt for peanuts, sunflower hearts, suet balls, finely chopped bacon rind and even a little bit of grated cheese in your feeders and on bird tables. For a balanced diet, still provide your normal seed mix, as well as these fattier foods.
Teachers and pupils are also urged to take part in the Big Schools’ Birdwatch until 12 February. Further information can be found at www.rspb.org.uk/schoolswatch.