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One hour that could help our garden birds; Nature Notes.

Byline: FEN GERRY

The world's biggest ever wildlife survey - the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch - takes place next weekend and we need you.

Thousands of people took part in West Midlands' gardens in 2010 helping to monitor the birds visiting over the winter period.

You don't have to be an expert to take part - the more people who get involved the better the results.

This can be a great excuse to curl up on the sofa with a cup of tea, survey form and pen to hand - armed with a great sense of purpose, as you are about to embark on a single hour that will be making a great difference to our knowledge of garden birds.

Past surveys have enabled the RSPB to identify the cause of certain birds' decline as well as steps you can take to help them recover. Last year the house sparrow was the most popular bird in West Midlands' gardens. And across the UK the house sparrow, despite topping the chart has shown a rapid decrease since 1979, dropping from an average of 10 birds per garden to just 3.7.

Results from 2010 provided a good understanding of how birds were coping with the prolonged cold spell at the start of the year. Unusually high numbers of countryside birds like fieldfares, redwings, bullfinches, and yellowhammers were spotted in gardens. More usually found in fields and farmland trees and hedgerows, these birds visited our gardens for food they couldn't find in their usual haunts.

As well as redwings and fieldfares, other members of the thrush family, including song thrush, mistle thrush and blackbird were seen in much higher numbers last year looking for food. Visiting Scandinavian birds such as waxwings were seen gorging on juicy berries, I've been lucky enough to have some great sightings recently so keep a good look out.

So now it's your chance to do your bit for garden birds by simply spending one hour over the weekend of January 29 and January 30 jotting down the highest number of every bird species seen at any one time.

It doesn't matter if you don't have a garden, you can do the survey on the canal towpath, on the roof top terrace or in the park, and it's a great excuse to watch the world go by.

For further information and online resources to help you with your birdwatch visit: www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch. An online results form will be available from January 29 until February 18.

FEN GERRY, RSPB, BIRMINGHAM

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jan 20, 2011
Words:427
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