RSPB Big Schools' Birdwatch, 4 January- 12 February 2016
Tens of thousands of school children across the UK will be getting closer to nature in January by taking part in the world's biggest schools wildlife survey.
The RSPB's Big Schools' Birdwatch, now in its 15th year, helps to track numbers of birds in school grounds, giving the charity an insight into species doing well or not so well and providing schoolchildren with a great learning experience.
Taking place during the first half of spring term (4 January- 12 February 2016), the survey encourages schoolchildren of all ages, and their teachers, to discover which birds they share their school grounds with and learn about their behaviour.
A record breaking 90,000 pupils and teachers took part in the survey last year by counting the birds that visited their grounds.
The results contribute to the charity's Big Garden Birdwatch and help the RSPB build an overall picture of birds visiting school grounds and monitor any changes in the population.
More than 70 different species have been recorded in school grounds, ranging from starlings and house sparrows, to kestrels and even little egrets. Last year, the blackbird topped the list for the 7th year running, with 89% of schools that took part seeing blackbirds, with an average of seven birds seen per school.
Starlings held onto the number two spot, but for the first time ever house sparrows made the top three. House sparrows were spotted at more than half of all schools; the average counted was four.
James Harding-Morris, RSPB Big Schools' Birdwatch Co-ordinator said: "This fun and educational activity is suitable for all ages and abilities and, best of all, it takes just one lesson or lunchtime. Research has shown that children are increasingly disconnected from nature, which is linked to poorer physical and mental health, so this event is a great way to get young people excited about the world around them. It also provides us with valuable information on how some of our familiar birds are doing."
The Big Schools' Birdwatch is the school version of the Big Garden Birdwatch - the world's biggest garden wildlife survey aimed at families and individuals. The event will take place over the weekend of the 30 and 31 January 2016 and further information can be found on the RSPB website rspb.org.uk/birdwatch