RSPB s Big Schools Birdwatch results revealed
A UK-wide survey of birds in school grounds has revealed the blackbird is the most common playground visitor - but this is not the case in Merseyside as the feral pigeon is at the top of the table.
85% of schools that took part in the national RSPB Big Schools Birdwatch survey saw blackbirds, with an average of five birds seen per school, slightly down on 2013 figures. In Merseyside, the blackbird dropped from third to eighth position, with an average of two birds recorded per school.
Feral pigeons claimed first place with an average of five birds seen per school, moving up from sixth position, while carrion crows moved up two places to tenth this year. Carrion crows were spotted at more than half of all participating schools in Merseyside; the average counted during the hour-long survey was one.
More than 70,000 pupils and teachers across the UK counted the birds in their school grounds for one hour of one day between 20 January and 14 February to take part in the event. Their sightings contribute to the results of RSPB s annual Big Garden Birdwatch the biggest wildlife survey in the world which will be revealed on Thursday 27 March.
The bird with the most significant change in national rankings compared with last year is the black-headed gull, which dropped from third to sixth place. However, in Merseyside, the black-headed gull bucked the national trend, moving from fifth to fourth position, with an average of three recorded per school.
Overall, average numbers of birds spotted appear to be down this year; however experts at the charity believe this is more likely to be because of the mild weather. Availability of natural food sources in the wider countryside meant birds didn t need to visit school grounds to feed.
Emma Reed, the RSPB s Education Officer for Northern England, said: It’s encouraging that so many children and teachers continue to take part in the Big Schools Birdwatch, especially when this winter s mild weather meant birds didn’t turn up in the numbers they usually do.
Seeing nature first-hand is the single best way to enthuse young people about it, and by watching birds from their classroom window they can learn so much about the amazing diversity of wildlife living on their doorstep.
Finding out which birds they share their playground with always gets children excited, and through that excitement comes learning. Most importantly, it encourages them to help us give nature a home.
To find out how schools can join in next year visit rspb.org.uk/schoolswatch
For tips on how to give nature a home where you live, visit rspb.org.uk/homes
Species Average number per garden Rank
Feral pigeon 5.00 1
Common gull 4.64 2
Starling 4.18 3
Black headed gull 3.73 4
Jackdaw 3.36 5
Magpie 2.82 6
Woodpigeon 2.45 7
Blackbird 2.18 8
Herring gull 1.55 9
Carrion crow 1.45 10