How will the weather affect world’s largest wildlife survey?

By Jenna Hutber

Friday 24 January 2020

Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to take part in the RSPB’s 41st Big Garden Birdwatch this weekend.

RSPB scientists say this year’s mild winter weather could give smaller birds a booster chance of survival.

Petite birds such as wrens and long-tailed tits suffer during long, bitter winters but the warmer January weather this year may well have been a boon. The RSPB also had reports of early nesting activity in some species, which is almost certainly linked to these higher temperatures. Sometimes warmer temperatures do mean fewer birds visit gardens for food and shelter as conditions are good in the countryside.

But will we see any differences in the birds being recorded in gardens for this year’s Big Garden Birdwatch?

For the past 41 years hundreds of thousands of people have volunteered an hour of their time to help the RSPB learn more about the birds that live in our gardens and provide the charity an annual snapshot of how our wild neighbours are faring.

In that time almost 140 million birds have been counted, helping the RSPB to highlight some dramatic declines and increases in garden birds.

Beccy Speight, the RSPB’s Chief Executive said: “You don’t have to leave home to support nature. For many people a great way to get more involved in nature is waiting for them just outside their window, watching the birds in their garden or local park. The data gathered by Big Garden Birdwatch-ers over the last 40 years has helped chart the decline and rise of numerous species since the 1970s. And contributing to that important piece of citizen science is for many thousands of people a first step in becoming champions for nature.

“More than ever we need everyone to be interested in the wildlife immediately around them – it’s endlessly fascinating.   And at the RSPB, we’re confident that the more time we all spend in nature, the more we will be passionate about protecting and restoring it.

“With global leaders deciding the fate of our planet later this year, it has never been more important for people to feel connected to our amazing wildlife. The State of Nature report released in September showed more than 41% of UK species are in serious decline.”

This year’s event takes place on 25, 26 and 27 January 2020. The public is asked to spend just one hour watching and recording the birds in their garden or local green space, then send their results to the RSPB. Close to half-a-million people join in the Birdwatch every year.

To mark the event, the RSPB is encouraging participants to share their Big Garden Birdwatch stories. How will you #BigGardenBirdWatch? will showcase some of the best examples of how people take part from building their own birdwatching den, baking birdseed cakes and dressing up as Batman to see Robin.

To take part in the Big Garden Birdwatch 2020, watch the birds in your garden or local park for one hour at some point over the three days. Only count the birds that land, not those flying over. Tell us the highest number of each bird species you see at any one time – not the total you see in the hour.

Once you have recorded the birds that make a visit, submit your results online at



Last Updated: Wednesday 8 December 2021

Tagged with: Country: UK locations Topic: News Category