The Big School Birdwatch

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) Big School Birdwatch is an important annual event where thousands of school children participate by recording bird species and numbers around their schools.

Educators and schools plan lessons where children take time to record birds in their local area enhancing learning and children’s understanding of the natural world.

The event isn’t just about education though – if schools submit their results to the RSPB, the birds recorded will be counted as part of the Big Garden Birdwatch, an annual event which gives us an important picture on the UK’s bird population.

This year, the event will be different as many schools are now closed due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Except for keyworkers, most people will currently have their children at home.

However, for parents scrambling for home learning resources, the Big School Birdwatch is a fantastic opportunity with the RSPB providing plenty of materials for children of all ages.

The Big School Birdwatch 2021

Taking part in the Big School Birdwatch at home is easy!

The RSPB has made it easy and fun to participate for children by providing a range of resources that link to national curriculum learning objectives. The resources, including identification guides and counting sheets using tens frames, are completely free to download here.

Full instructions on how to participate can be found on the RSPB website but the idea is that your children count birds and record the birds they see within a one-hour period.  It is then up to adults to pass this data on to the RSPB through their website.

Where you count the birds is up to you but with national lockdown restrictions you are advised to stay local – anywhere such as a local park, woodland, or even your own garden are great places to spot birds.

a nuthatch on a branch

In addition to providing counting sheets, the RSPB has created a range of educational materials for your kids to enjoy including plenty for younger children such as colouring sheets and instructions on how to make paper birds.

Taking an hour to count the birds your family come across, combined with the additional activities provided by the RSPB mean you could enjoy an entire day of bird-related activity with the kids.

What a great way to educate younger generations on the importance of caring for and protecting our native wild birds!

Bird Watching & Feeding With Children

If you plan on counting birds in your garden it is a good idea to put bird food out to attract as many birds as possible.

Remember – it can take a little while to get birds feeding in a new spot so consistency is key when it comes to feeding birds, although with the coldest months ahead we’re sure the birds will be grateful for any food supplied.

Feeding the birds is an activity kids will enjoy and is also a good teaching opportunity. Why not make your kids responsible for checking and filling feeders? It is also important to provide water for birds – even when the weather is cold.

For older children, you can also teach them about the different types of bird food and which species prefers what type.

For example, providing niger seed for birds can attract a variety of our feathered friends but Goldfinches are particularly attracted to the tiny black seeds!

For further information on bird feeding please take a look at bird feeding tips and our bird food guides.

Although birds can be creatures of habit when it comes to feeding, you can take bird food out on walks with your family to offer to wild birds. A good mixed bird seed will be attractive to a wide range of birds. If you stick around long enough and keep quiet you may get to meet some birds you haven’t seen before such as the shy nuthatch!