Get young people involved in the RSPB's Big Schools' Birdwatch

By Jane Banham posted 24-01-2022 09:21


I’m sure that no one has missed all the promotion and highlighting about the RSPB's Big Schools' Birdwatch from BBC Radio 2, local radio and on the TV too. This very successful citizen science project, run annually by the RSPB, takes place 5 January - 2 February with the intention that everyone will count the birds for one hour between 28-30 January.

It is an ideal opportunity for pupils of all ages to identify different bird species and count the numbers they see in the school grounds or gardens. From using a tally chart in KS1, to creating graphs of results or averaging out bird numbers spotted by different classes etc in KS2, this allows opportunities to be created between maths and noticing patterns/pattern seeking in the working scientifically aspect of science.

Many schools use this as a chance to get wrapped up and outdoors in the winter using the existing knowledge of birds from the children or alternatively using the identification keys or charts to help identify and log the bird species and numbers spotted. In the past I’ve always used this as a chance to get the children (linking into the materials aspect of the curriculum) to create homemade fat balls having researched what different birds like to eat- support from here. These homemade fat balls have hung from every tree in the nature area and those surrounding the school field where we have monitored the changes in bird numbers and species over a period of time. This has really given the children the insight into how important it is to provide food over the winter for the birds so that they survive. Following the spotting of a kestrel, and seeing it swoop and kill a number of the smaller birds feeding on the fat balls ,it also lead to discussions, not only about food chains as you would expect, but also safer places to position the fat balls so that the blue tits etc weren’t easy targets for the kestrels.

If you haven’t taken part in the past, why not try it with your class? From experience, the children love it and take their learning home to discuss with parents, grandparents and carers. Be prepared for lots of discussions on Monday after a weekend spotting lots of birds in their gardens or parks and even on their walk into school.

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28-01-2022 10:09

Yep. Taking a class of Y7 and Y8 out later to spot birds in our nature reserve.

27-01-2022 08:32

Thank you for the super Big schools bird watch  blog and great curriculum ideas @Jane Banham.  I completely agree it's suitable for all ages and have had success involving secondary school students with this too - a fab opportunity to link to ideas about 'big data' and experiment design as well as the things Jane has mentioned like behavioural adaptation, food chains, species identification and picture keys.​

25-01-2022 09:48

Hi thanks for this great thread as I'm an RSPB Member but hadn't heard about the big school watch but do the garden one this will come in useful for my new Outdoor Classroom Nature and the natural world based Stem event