Over 7,000 people sign up for garden citizen science survey during lockdown

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House Sparrow by Edmund Fellowes/BTO

Gardens cover more land than nature reserves in the UK, yet their importance for our wildlife is under recorded – is that about to change?

While our movements have been restricted, many of us have spent more time watching and enjoying our garden wildlife. Since the beginning of April, over 7,000 people have taken the opportunity to engage with the UK’s most robust garden wildlife survey, joining 11,000 existing members and turning their observations into scientific data, by joining Garden BirdWatch (GBW), a long-term garden wildlife survey run by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO).

Garden BirdWatch records help scientists at the BTO understand how garden birds and wildlife are changing over time. Thanks to the sightings of thousands of Garden BirdWatch volunteers we understand more about how wildlife uses the food, shelter and other resources in our gardens, and the threats they face, such as disease. Most importantly, the more we know about how birds and animals use our gardens, the more we can improve our cities, towns, villages and individual gardens for wildlife.

Garden BirdWatch membership was made free in April (it normally costs £17), in an attempt to help people find an enjoyable purpose in their garden birdwatching during this period of uncertainty. The free membership offer will continue while the current movement restrictions remain in place, each free membership lasting for a year.

Kate Risely, GBW Organiser at the BTO said, “Many more people are turning to their gardens for interest and to watch wildlife, and we are delighted that so many want to contribute their sightings to our research. Garden BirdWatch has been running for 25 years, making the survey older than some of our younger volunteers. We hope some of the people who have joined this year will still be participating many years in the future!”

Make your garden wildlife observations count by joining BTO Garden BirdWatch free at www.bto.org/gbw

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