More than half a million watch the birdies for RSPB

Record numbers take part in 30th Big Garden Birdwatch survey

Goldfinch (pic by Ray Kennedy/RSPB images)
Goldfinch (pic by Ray Kennedy/RSPB images)

More than half a million people took part in the RSPB's annual Big Garden Birdwatch survey earlier this year.

The conservation charity recorded 552,000 participants in this year's survey, which asked members of the public to count the numbers of birds in their gardens over the weekend of 24 and 25 January. Participants counted more than 8.5 million birds and 73 different species in 279,000 UK gardens.

It was a marked increase from last year, when 398,000 people took part in the survey. Sarah Kelly, project coordinator for the Big Garden Birdwatch, said the charity had not changed its promotional tactics this year and that the increase had occurred because this was the 30th anniversary of the first event.

"It was also the coldest January since 2006, and this increases the probability of birds coming into people's gardens to look for food," said Kelly. "It was another harsh winter in 2006, and we recorded 470,000 participants then, so the numbers have only really dropped in the past two years when the weather has been milder."

The house sparrow was the most common bird for the sixth year running, with an average of 3.7 seen per garden, followed by the starling and the blackbird.

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