The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) in the United Kingdom is the largest conservation charity in Europe – and they need our schools and community help to track the “ups and downs of birds across the country”.

How can our schools and communities get involved?

From the 6th of January until the 21st of February, the RSPB is running the Big Schools Bird Watch 2020 project. This project is inspiring all future conservationists in schools nationwide, asking classrooms to get involved for this bird watching activity by observing up to 20 different types of birds commonly seen throughout the UK; the House Sparrow, Blackbird, Magpie, Crows, Thrushes, the Starling and Woodpigeons, just to name a few.

Schools can register for a bird watching pack and lesson plans, complete with identification posters and instructions on how to count them and submit the data back to the RSPB for analysis. The RSPB website also has some paper craft activities and step-by-step instructions on how to make seed bells to hang in trees to attract different types of birds.

Why are birds important?

With over 10,000 species globally, diverse in their looks and behaviours, why does looking up matter? Birds help to pollinate plants, spread seeds and they’re also part of the food chain. But, the UK bird population has been in decline and is 6% lower than it was in the 1970’s. There is a 58% decline in farmland birds and a 29% decline in woodland birds.

Birds are closely related to the dinosaurs, meaning they have been around for 60 million years or so, and us humans have only existed for a tiny fraction of that. However, humans have been changing the climate, oceans and environment faster than the birds can adapt and we need to work together to preserve them and their role in the ecosystem. Thankfully, there is already a lot of long-term data that has been collected about birds in the UK, which helps to interpret their small changes under the environmental pressures.

So, how can we use our veterinary nurse voice to help?

Your practice can start encouraging the project by printing off some of the bird identification posters that are available to download on the official Big Bird Watch 2020 website as a fun way for school kids of all ages to start noticing and take an interest in the wildlife around them.. And who knows, maybe it will also inspire some future veterinary nurses too!