It’s that time of year again! Get ready for 2019’s RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch from 26th-28th of January! Why not spend an hour this weekend taking part in the world’s largest wildlife survey and see what you can spot. The Big Garden Birdwatch is the world’s largest wildlife survey that helps to find out what wildlife is in trouble, and what’s thriving. As a result of counting birds in our garden for Birdwatch, since 1979 starlings have declined by 81% and song thrush numbers have declined by around 70%. It started out as just a bird survey, but since 2014 we’ve been asked to look out for other wildlife that visits our gardens. Through this we now know that only one in four of us see hedgehogs in the garden at least once a month. All this information adds up to create a detailed snapshot of how our wildlife is faring around the UK.

For the last few years, house sparrows have been the most spotted bird across Britain, however as well as seeing the common species, an hour of careful watching may reward you with some more interesting sightings…

2016 saw a rise in the number of goldcrest’s and firecrest’s – these tiny but impressive birds are Britain’s smallest! In 2015 the Big Garden Birdwatch recorded a number of rare species including their star visitor, the snow bunting. This years expected visitors include the brightly coloured goldfinch and the sociable long-tailed tit!

All that you need to do is sit back, relax and get spotting! However, If you want to increase the quantity and variety of birds you spot then here are a few tips to make your garden more bird-friendly!

Birds will be visiting your garden to eat and drink so it’s important that you make water accessible and provide food for them.

As the weather is so cold at this time of year, ponds and water features may be frozen over, so be prepared to break any ice so that birds can drink. Also, ensure that the water is clear of any leaves or debris.

One of the best places to see birds is on bird feeders or bird tables when they are feeding. There are many different bird foods that you can buy or make to attract birds. Different species prefer different foods so you can choose whether to attract a variety of species or just the ones you’d really love to see!

For instance, if you have bushes in your garden (such as holly or cotoneaster) the berries are a favourite for thrushes like Fieldfares and Redwings.

If you’re putting food out then seeds are a favourite for finches, while nuts are sure to attract Blue Tits and maybe even a Woodpecker!

Visit the RSPB website for more details and to download your free Big Garden Birdwatch pack!