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Last Updated: Friday, 28 January 2005, 14:08 GMT
Bird watchers study garden species
Sightings of the blue tit are increasing in the UK
Sightings of the blue tit are increasing in the UK
Wildlife enthusiasts in Northern Ireland are being urged to brush up on their bird skills this weekend.

For the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds is launching its 26th annual Big Garden Birdwatch.

The aim is to achieve a record-breaking half a million participants in the UK.

A recent RSPB survey of 1,000 people indicated that 86% of them enjoyed watching garden birds.

However, the organisation said the public's knowledge of birds is not always impressive.

Sixty five per cent did not know the house sparrow was the UK's most common garden bird.

And almost half did not realise the numbers of that species is falling.

The distinctive blue cap and yellow breast helped 70% of people to pick out the blue tit from a line-up of the five most common garden birds.

However, when asked to identify the chaffinch, only 56% recognised it.

This is a fun way to enjoy the birds in your garden while helping provide a vital snapshot of winter bird populations
Richard Bashford
RSPB

Last year 420,000 people took part in the survey, recording 8.6m birds in more than 250,000 gardens.

The RSPB is urging people to take part in this year's event.

Richard Bashford, Big Garden Birdwatch co-ordinator, said: "You don't need to be an expert to take part.

"Big Garden Birdwatch gives you the perfect excuse to sit back and relax for an hour."

The survey provides valuable information for the RSPB that can be used to track bird populations throughout the UK.

'Vital snapshot'

Mr Bashford added: "It would be fantastic if we reached the half a million participation mark, this will further show the growing popularity of watching birds.

"This is a fun way to enjoy the birds in your garden while helping provide a vital snapshot of winter bird populations."

If you wish to take part in the Big Garden Birdwatch all you need to do is watch your garden or local park on either Saturday 29 or Sunday 30 January.

You only need to count the birds for an hour, and just record the highest number of each species seen at any one time.

You can submit your results online from 29 January.




SEE ALSO:
Wildlife 'decline' on NI farms
05 Aug 04 |  Northern Ireland


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