RSPB NI: More than half of people in Northern Ireland found solace in watching birds and hearing their song over lockdown, survey reveals ahead of the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch

Friday 29 January 2021

• YouGov survey shows that 57% of people surveyed in NI said the pandemic made them more aware of nature around them • A third of people (36%) in NI said they learnt something new about the wildlife in their area

Results from a new survey commissioned by the RSPB have revealed the pandemic is making the public more aware of nature in their area, with 38% of people in NI seeing wildlife near their homes over the last 12 months that they had never noticed before.  

The YouGov survey, which polled 2,071 adults across the UK, revealed that 58% of people said watching the birds and hearing their song added to their enjoyment of life since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, with 57% of people in NI believing the pandemic has made them more aware of the nature around them. 

It also showed that people are not only noticing but acting on their newly-strengthened connection with nature, with almost half (49%) of those surveyed in NI having actively done something to help wildlife in their area over the past 12 months, including 55% feeding garden birds in the past 12 months and over two in five (45%) doing so at least once a week during winter months. 

With this love of nature, RSPB NI is expecting a record-breaking year of participation in the Big Garden Birdwatch this weekend (Friday 29 to Sunday 31 January) and will be hosting a range of lockdown and home schooling events on social media with guests including Chris Packham, Miranda Krestovnikoff and Deborah Meaden plus a live cam feed of the birdfeeders at Belfast’s Window on Wildlife reserve.

Anne-Marie McDevitt, RSPB NI Head of Species, said: “In the past year we’ve seen how important the natural world is to our mental health as we have come to rely on our wildlife for solace in these unsettling times.

“We’re expecting a bumper year of participation in the Big Garden Birdwatch having seen record-breaking interest for pre-registration; and we’re encouraging people to take part from home this year. Lockdowns have been challenging, but the last year has either started or reignited a love of nature for many people. The results of this survey indicate we may emerge from this pandemic a new generation of nature lovers.

“By taking an hour to take part in this year’s Birdwatch, people can help us to build an annual snapshot of how our birdlife is doing across the UK too. It is only by us understanding how our wildlife is faring that we can protect it. We know that nature is in crisis but together we can all take action to revive our world.”

Close to half-a-million people join in the Big Garden Birdwatch every year. Since it began 42 years ago, the Birdwatch has not only given the wildlife charity an astonishing insight into how our garden wildlife is faring (with 144 million birds counted in total) but has also helped the public forge a stronger connection with the nature on their doorsteps. For more information and to take part, visit

Last Updated: Friday 29 January 2021

Tagged with: Country: Northern Ireland Topic: Birds Topic: Campaigns