The RSPB (UK) is launching a schools backed bird watch for all children (and adults). The Big Garden Birdwatch involves downloading a countsheet before 26th or 27th of January and then practicing your bird ID with the handy sheet (which does have pics).
The Big Schools' Birdwatch runs from 16th till 30th January for foundation to key stage 3 students. After thirty years, the Royal Society really believe it will tip the scales to make a record twitch, with so many gardens and schools already committed from previous years. TV coverage with the help of programmes featuring many different personalities is also expected to boost the data, which will yet again be extremely useful in gauging bird numbers at this critical time of year.
Last year for example 386 Scottish schools alone took part, after school surveys began encouraging children to take part from 2002 RSPB report that they have quantified the advantages for schools when taking part in their survey: "Our recent report - Every Child Outdoors - brings together academic research and independent analysis of the diverse positive impacts of children having contact with nature. As well as inspiring the environmental champions of tomorrow, these benefits include: academic achievement; mental and physical wellbeing; and developing interpersonal and social skills." We should all agree and add to that comment.
The time is ripe if you like, for two differing reasons. Several species, (especially garden and farmland species) are on the decline and need monitoring in this yearly census. General coverage will also help people to appreciate the reliance some birds place on food that is placed for them or occurs on waste of some kind. Recent losses of numbers have overcome several species such as:
Turtle Dove via Shutterstock
Common Cuckoo via Shutterstock
Willow Warbler via Shutterstock
Yellowhammer via Shutterstock
Last year, by comparison, skylarks in Norfolk and even a golden oriole (Devon) turned up for the event. This year, the results will prove a success as they always do with so many dedicated followers of feathers. Even the amount of work that goes into preparing the results is incredibly scientific and readable at the same time.