Thursday, 26 November 2015

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Cumbrians asked to take part in world's biggest wildlife survey

People in Cumbria are being asked by the RSPB to help their local wildlife by taking part in the annual Big Garden Birdwatch over the weekend of January 26 and 27.

Sparrow photo
Sparrows are in decline

Almost 600,000 people across the UK took part in the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch in 2012 and between them counted more than nine million birds.

Joanna Keene, the RSPB’s people engagement manager in Northern England, said: “Taking part in the survey is fun and simple. Just spend one hour at any time over Big Garden Birdwatch weekend noting down the highest number of each bird species you see in your garden or local park at any one time. You’ve then got three weeks to tell us your results either by submitting them online at or in the post.”

Now in its 34th year, the survey provides the RSPB with an important snapshot of garden bird populations in winter and has helped to highlight some dramatic declines in UK garden birds.

In the first survey in 1979, an average of 15 starlings were seen per garden, but that fell to an average of just three starlings per garden in 2012, the lowest level ever. House sparrow numbers have fallen by two thirds over the lifetime of the survey too.

Joanna said: “Everyone who takes part in the Big Garden Birdwatch is contributing to the world’s biggest wildlife survey and helping us find out more about some of our most-loved garden birds.

“The declines of starlings and sparrows over the last 30 years or so have been alarming, but Big Garden Birdwatch has helped us find out more about their numbers and distribution across UK gardens, and that has been the first step in helping to put things right.”

Some bird species have fared considerably better over the years. Sightings of popular species like blue tits, great tits and coal tits in gardens have increased since 1979. Goldfinches, which were absent from the Big Garden Birdwatch top 15 in the early years, have featured regularly as a top 15 species since 2004.

Despite their recent declines, last year’s survey revealed that the most common bird seen in Cumbria was the house sparrow with an average of 5.6 birds per garden.

You can register to take part in Big Garden Birdwatch 2013 at or call the hotline on 0300 456 8330 to receive a free Big Garden Birdwatch pack.


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