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Last Updated: Monday, 23 January 2006, 13:20 GMT
Schools start survey of UK birds
House sparrow
The house sparrow was the most spotted garden bird in 2005
A scheme to get pupils to spot birds in playgrounds and fields has got under way, kicking off a yearly RSPB project to monitor birds in the UK.

More than 30,000 children took part in the 10-day Big School's Birdwatch 2005 survey, counting 57,000 birds.

The starling was the most common school bird, while the house sparrow topped the Big Garden Birdwatch 2005 survey.

The RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch, when householders spend an hour recording birds, takes place this weekend.

The nation-wide survey gives the RSPB a snapshot of bird numbers and species in the UK each year and is an indicator of changes in the environment.

In 2005, the appearance for the first time of the ring-necked parakeet in the top 20 birds spotted in London is thought to be an indicator of warmer winters.

1 House sparrow
2 Starling
3 Blue tit
4 Blackbird
5 Greenfinch
6 Chaffinch
7 Collared dove
8 Wood pigeon
9 Great tit
10 Robin
11 Dunnock
12 Magpie
13 Long-tailed tit
14 Goldfinch
15 Coal tit
16 Jackdaw
17 Carrion crows
18 Wren
19 Rook
20 Feral pigeon
  • 2005 RSPB Big Garden Watch
  • The RSPB estimates numbers of the south Asian bird - believed to have escaped from captivity - could reach 50,000 by 2010.

    Ros Patching, the RSPB's education officer, urged people to get involved in the survey.

    She said schools' could provide excellent habitats for a range of different birds.

    Starlings, for example, like to stay together in groups. They enjoy foraging for food on hard surfaces, such as playgrounds, but also probing in lawns and damp grass for worms and grubs.

    They also sit on buildings and in trees to whistle, chatter and shout their various calls.

    "Playgrounds can be noisy places, but they are only noisy at certain times of the day," she said.

    "Quite often there are quiet spots in schools, and hedges and fields, and quite a good variety of habitat, and they can be really good places for quite a wide variety of birds."

    The schools survey runs until 3 February. The Big Garden Birdwatch 2006 takes place 28-29 January.

    Wild parrots settle in suburbs
    06 Jul 04 |  Education
    House sparrow tops garden survey
    22 Mar 05 |  Science/Nature
    Collared doves' relentless march
    25 Mar 04 |  Science/Nature

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