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Big Schools’ Birdwatch 2021

Big Schools’ Birdwatch looked different in 2021, but we’re pleased to say that many schools went ahead and counted the birds in their grounds. Now we’ve counted all your submissions – and the results are in!

The 20th anniversary Big Schools’ Birdwatch was a bit different. Teachers juggled both remote and face-to-face learning, and some families took part in the Big Garden Birdwatch from home as an alternative. It was still a fantastic success. Pupils discovered the wildlife near them, and tens of thousands took part in our BBC Teach and Winterwatch day, available to catch up on BBC Teach.

The results are in

The results are in, the submissions have been counted, and our conservation scientists have done the number-crunching. It’s time to reveal the results of the 20th Big Schools’ Birdwatch! Find out the Big Schools’ Birdwatch top ten, including the bird that flew into the top spot. Did it match the top bird in your school grounds?

BBC Teach and Winterwatch

We teamed up with BBC Teach and Winterwatch for a day of Live Lessons based around Big Schools’ Birdwatch. Lessons were designed for KS2 and include data handling for maths and classification in science. It’s available to catch up on BBC Teach.

Watch our video on taking part

What is it like to take part in Big Schools’ Birdwatch? In our video hear from lower school teacher Kate Sefton: “There’s definitely something in it for every age group. It links directly to the national curriculum learning objectives and also down to development matters for early years”

Kate Sefton, Potton Lower School Teacher, says: “Today we conducted the Big Schools’ Birdwatch, so as a whole class we went outside onto the school field and we sat for nearly an hour to observe all the different birds and wildlife that were coming into our school grounds.”

Children walk across the playground into their school field. A teacher hands out clipboards with bird identification sheets. A blackbird flies away. The teacher asks: “Where do the birds live? Where might we find them?”

Kate Sefton says: “We spoke about the different ways that you could identify a bird, so we thought about staying still and actually listening to hear the different sounds. We thought about the different colours of the feathers, beaks, their feet and legs. We also thought about what foods they might be eating and where we might find them, so where were we going to look outside.”

Children stand at a table and watch the birds around them. A long-tailed tit pecks at suet in a feeder. The children gather around a clipboard and excitedly note down what they’ve seen. 

Kate Sefton says: “The RSPB has provided some wonderful resources online. We’ve been able to follow an average lesson format that I would do for any other lesson and directing it to be specific to the Birdwatch.”

A girl watches through binoculars as a greenfinch flies from a tree.

Kate Sefton says: “There’s definitely something in it for every age group, directly to learning objectives, going through the National Curriculum Learning Objectives but also going down to Early Years Development Matters statements as well. There’s just so much that can be gained from all of them, but also what they’re gaining out of it socially.”

A group of children is outside watching birds in their school grounds and recording information on their clipboards.

Kate Sefton says: “When we got back into the classroom, we – as a whole group – used the interactive whiteboard to actually bring up the website.”

Indoors, the children sit at their desks and take it in turns to come up to the interactive whiteboard, showing the Big Schools’ Birdwatch website.

Kate Sefton says: We could input the data directly onto that as a group and the children were able to submit it themselves. I really didn’t have to do very much at all. The pictures were bold and bright and the children could identify the birds that they had seen and it was a very straightforward process just to press the button the right amount of times so they could enter how many birds they had seen. It really got them thinking about how our location may be different from others. They were looking at the data they were entering in the grand scheme of things, and it really got them thinking, and it really got them understanding this was a nationwide project they could contribute to.

Outside, a robin perches on a bird feeder.

Kate Sefton says: “It’s been wonderful to listen to them leaving to go home saying about what an exciting day it had been, and how wonderful it had been, and they wanted to go and do a Birdwatch at the weekend. It’s just been amazing, it’s been a great day.”

Outside, the teacher points out some birds to a girl using binoculars. A jackdaw flies over.

Kate Sefton says: “Other teachers should definitely take part in the Big Schools’ Birdwatch, because it was great fun for me as a teacher to build some wonderful relationships with the children, and we’ve been citizen scientists; we’ve helped the RSPB which means in the future we’re helping to give nature a home.”


All Big Schools' Birdwatch resources

Young child checking off the birds they have seen on our checklist

A collection of resources to support the delivery of your Big Schools’ Birdwatch, including counting sheets using tens frames and subitising, and bird cake instructions.

What's that bird?

Everything you need to know about the birds you're likely to see during Big Schools' Birdwatch and some handy tips on telling them apart

big schools birdwatch

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