When? 30-31 Jan, 2010

A year has flown by (excuse the pun) but it's that time again when the RSPB ask the nation to keep a careful eye on their gardens over a 1 hour period and record the bird species they see in their gardens.

Why only an hour? Well it's an easy ask for starters, which means more people will take part!

It doesn't matter when you do it either, although birds are generally more active in the morning when feeding.

Winter time has been chosen as birds tend to come into our gardens more in search of food and shelter, so you can sit inside and count from the comfort of your own home.

Come rain or shine, there will be around half a million people taking part in this weekends survey so don't panic if your particular patch is quiet.

A wren by Sue Tranter, courtesy of RSPB images:

The important thing is to be accurate, so only add birds you actually see during the hour you choose, even if your regular visitors fail to turn up, don't be tempted to add them - they will have been counted somewhere.

It's also crucial to submit your form/ info even if you don't see anything, as all the data is important and helps the RSPB learn about bird populations and work out which species need their help.

Visit the RSPB website from tomorrow onwards to submit your data.

You can download a form to record your sightings here but don't post this in - it's just to help you remember what you've seen.

To help attract more birds have a go at making bird feeders:

Things you'll need: Plastic drinks/ bottles, scissors, wire or string, bird seed, yoghurt pots or milk cartons (make sure they're clean)

  • Cut a hole in the side large enough to allow a free flow of seeds, but in such a way that it won't all fall out on the ground in the slightest puff of wind, and won't get wet if it rains.
  • Make a few small holes in the bottom of your feeder to allow any rainwater to drain away.
  • Hang it with wire, or even strong string from a tree or your washing line.
  • If your feeder starts to wear out or the food in it goes mouldy, recycle it and make another one!
Remember to keep your feeders well stocked, especially in winter too as birds come to rely on them and will go hungry if you forget.

Feeling peckish? Try making the speedy bird cake:

Things you'll need: Good quality bird seed, raisins, peanuts, grated cheese, suet or lard, yoghurt pot, string, mixing bowl, scissors.

  • Carefully make a small hole in the bottom of a yoghurt pot. Thread string through the hole and tie a knot on the inside. Leave enough string so that you can tie the pot to a tree or your bird table.
  • Allow the lard to warm up to room temperature, but don't melt it. Then cut it up into small pieces and put it in the mixing bowl.
  • Add the other ingredients to the bowl and mix them together with your finger tips. Keep adding the seed/raisin/cheese mixture and squidging it until the fat holds it all together.
  • Fill your yoghurt pots with bird cake mixture and put them in the fridge to set for an hour or so.
  • Hang your speedy bird cakes from trees or your bird table. Watch for greenfinches, tits and possibly even great spotted woodpeckers.
We've got plenty of information about garden birds on our website too.

I'll be taking part so will share my results with you on Monday!


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