Get set for the big bird­watch

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Star Courier (Surrey & Hants) - - NEWS - By Stephen Lloyd

THOU­SANDS of peo­ple across Hamp­shire and Sur­rey are set to turn their eyes sky­ward this week­end as they take part an­nual Bird­watch.

The na­tional wildlife sur­vey event is tak­ing place from in Big the RSPB’s Gar­den Jan­uary 28 to 30 and en­cour­ages peo­ple of all ages to count birds across the coun­try.

In prepa­ra­tion, devel­oper Bar­ratt has teamed up with the RSPB to give its top tips on how res­i­dents can en­sure they have plenty of feath­ered friends close by.

Sales direc­tor Michelle Storer said: “The Big Gar­den Bird­watch is such an ex­cit­ing event and we wanted to en­cour­age home­own­ers who own a brand new prop­erty to get in­volved and in­vite birds into their gar­den.

“Birds are ab­so­lutely mes­meris­ing in their be­hav­iours and this is some­thing that, as a na­tion, we should be able to ap­pre­ci­ate more.

“The top tips we have cho­sen are all fun ac­tiv­i­ties that the whole fam­ily can en­joy, cre­at­ing new mem­o­ries in their new homes as well as a haven for birds to visit.”

Dur­ing the colder months birds need a lot of en­ergy just to main­tain their body tem­per­a­ture, so it’s im­por­tant to feed them foods that are high in fat, such as sun­flower seeds, peanuts or fat- based food bars.

Make sure that you also pro­vide daily fresh wa­ter for your gar­den birds ei­ther in a bird­bath, pond or even a re­cy­cled, shal­low con­tainer with a stone in­side so that they can perch - birds need this not only to drink, but to bathe too.

Sadly, the UK pop­u­la­tion of house spar­rows has halved in re­cent years, so the RSPB is en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple to build spar­row boxes and put them up in their gar­dens, pro­vid­ing shel­ter and a home for the birds and their chicks.

For for those who don’t have the time to make one, the bird boxes are avail­able to buy web­site.

Trees of­fer song perches, nest­ing sites, safe re­treats, and high­ways in the sky, so there’s no rea­son why this wouldn’t help bring some wildlife into your own gar­den. Ap­ple trees are a per­fect choice for those with less room.

Now in its 38th year, the Big Gar­den Bird­watch is the largest gar­den wildlife sur­vey in the world, and this year for the first time it ex­tends over three days.

The RSPB hopes this change, made in re­sponse to high de­mand, will al­low even more peo­ple to take part and help the RSPB un­der­stand how our wildlife is do­ing.

Fig­ures from pre­vi­ous from the RSPB years show de­clines in the num­bers of many once- fa­mil­iar birds vis­it­ing gar­dens, such as house spar­rows, blue tits, black­birds, robins and dun­nocks.

Some birds, such as star­lings, chaffinches, wrens, col­lared doves and green­finches, have shown par­tic­u­larly se­vere de­clines.

How­ever, a few species have be­come more com­mon in our gar­dens, in­clud­ing goldfinches, long- tailed tits, and wood pi­geons.

Last year 519,000 peo­ple all over the UK counted an in­cred­i­ble 8,262,662 birds.

The re­sults of this year’s Big Gar­den Bird­watch will be pub­lished in March.

For more de­tails www. rspb. org. uk. visit

The pop­u­la­tion of house spar­rows has halved in re­cent years.

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