RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch makes big numbers in the north

The RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch has been running for 38 years and is the world’s largest garden wildlife survey
Andrew Madden

MORE than 17,000 people across Northern Ireland counted almost 130,000 birds as part of the Big Garden Birdwatch.

The initiative has been running for 38 years and is the world’s largest garden wildlife survey.

In January, nature enthusiasts across Northern Ireland spent one hour recording what they saw in their garden or local green space to help build up a picture of wildlife in the region.

Overall, starlings were the most commonly seen bird, closely followed by house sparrows.

Chaffinches, blue tits and blackbirds completed the top five in the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds initiative.

Robins held firm at number eight after being spotted in 94 per cent of gardens and it was long-tailed tits were up two places to number 17.

There was also a jump in the number of visits from other migrant birds as sub-zero temperatures on the continent forced them to go in search of milder conditions.

For example, there were around 15 times more redwings seen in the north compared to 2016.

As part of the initiative, more than one hundred schools also took part in the Big School’s Birdwatch.

Joanne Sherwood, the RSPB’s Northern Ireland director, said it was amazing to have so many people involved in the project.

"Our gardens and school grounds are a valuable space for birds, creating the food, water and a safe place to shelter they need throughout the year," she said.

"If we all provide these things in our outdoor spaces it will be a huge help to our garden birds, perhaps even playing a role in reversing declines."

Top 5 most commonly sighted birds


House sparrows


Blue tits


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