A UK-wide survey of birds in school grounds has revealed the blackbird is the most common playground visitor – but it is a different story in East Yorkshire where the black-headed gull 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. Although an average of five blackbirds was recorded per school in East Yorkshire, the bird took second place – as an average of eleven per school was recorded for the black-headed gull.
This is in contrast to the national results, in which the black-headed gull dropped from third to sixth place – the most significant change in national rankings compared with last year. Just 35% of schools nationally recorded black-headed gulls in 2014, contrasting with 75% the previous year.
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.
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.”
The Big Garden Birdwatch results will be revealed on Thursday 27 March 2014. For more information visit rspb.org.uk/birdwatch
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