This weekend join the nation in discovering what birds are visiting our gardens

Jess Barrett

Friday 26 January 2018

Blue tit Parus caeruleus, perched on broken plant pot with flowering sedum, in garden. Co. Durham.

  • Spending an hour watching the birds in your garden this weekend will help provide RSPB Scotland with an annual snapshot of the country’s garden birds as more than 35,000 people expected to take part in Big Garden Birdwatch.
  • Taking part in the world’s largest garden wildlife survey is easy – simply spend an hour counting the birds that visit your garden and submit your results online.

More than 35,000 people across Scotland are set to be brought together this weekend (27, 28 & 29 January) by the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch as people uncover what is happening in their garden, helping create an annual snapshot of how birds are doing here.

Now in its 39th year, the Birdwatch is a chance for people of all ages to count the number of birds that visit their garden helping RSPB Scotland to build up a picture of how our feathered friends are doing at this time of year. Many people will have seen their feeders rather busy over recent weeks due the cold spell across much of Scotland.

Last year close to half-a-million people across the UK took part, including over 35,000 in Scotland, making Big Garden Birdwatch the world’s biggest wildlife survey. More than 626,000 birds were counted in Scottish gardens with house sparrow topping the list, and starling, chaffinch, blackbird and blue tit making up the rest of the top five. While they have hopped and swapped about within the top five rankings, these species have held steady at the top of the Scottish Birdwatch results for many years and were the same a decade ago in 2008. House sparrows have been at the number one spot since 2012.

Keith Morton, Senior Species Policy Officer at RSPB Scotland, said: “At this time of year, especially during the recent cold weather we’ve had in Scotland, your garden can be a vital source of food, water and shelter for our much loved garden birds from flocks of blue tits to solitary robins. Big Garden Birdwatch is all about enjoying the wildlife on your doorstep and really easy to take part in by spending an hour counting the birds in your garden or outdoor space. Then all you have to do is let us know what you saw. Even if there were no birds in that hour it’s still really useful for us to know.

“Last year many people counted waxwings and other winter migrants during their Birdwatch hour as the colder weather in Scandinavia meant that they were here in higher numbers than usual, an event that tends to happen every seven to eight years. This year the weekend could be a good one for spotting some of our resident garden birds. The recent cold weather here means that birds will really be taking advantage of the food and water left out for them in gardens. It will be interesting to see if house sparrows can hold onto their number one spot for the seventh year in a row.”

With results from gardens from all corners of the UK, the valuable data allows a snapshot to be built of the birds that make use of the food, water and shelter found in many of our outdoor spaces at this time of the year. When combined with 38 years of data from previous Birdwatches, it allows trends to be monitored and provides an understanding of which birds are declining, and in need of our help.

People taking part will also be asked whether they have seen 15 other species of wildlife in their garden over the last year, including badgers, foxes, grey squirrels, red squirrels, roe deer, frogs, and toads, to help build an overall picture of how important gardens are in giving nature a home. Unlike the counting hour the questions about these species refer to a whole year; not all of the 15 species listed are found in Scotland as the survey is UK wide and some of the species aren’t as active during the winter months, so are unlikely to be seen over the weekend.

To take part in the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2018, simply spend an hour over the weekend watching the birds in your garden, outdoor space or local park. Once you have recorded the birds that visit your garden, even if you don’t get any, submit your results online at

Big Schools’ Birdwatch has been taking place in schools across the UK since the first week of January. Running until 23 February, it is a chance for children to put down their books and get outside to experience and learn about the nature that lives in their local community. To take part visit  

Last Updated: Tuesday 28 August 2018

Tagged with: Country: Scotland Country: Scotland Topic: 12 years+ Topic: 4-8 years Topic: 8-12 years Topic: Easy Topic: Balcony/roof Topic: Small garden Topic: Winter Topic: Birds Topic: Less than 2 hours Topic: Give Nature a home Topic: Family Topic: School Topic: January Topic: Medium garden Topic: Large garden Topic: Scotland Topic: Big Garden Birdwatch