Watch the birdie! Kids study school wildlife st

Blackbird. Pic Steve Robards
Blackbird. Pic Steve Robards

Children in Mid Sussex will be adding ‘birdwatching’ to their list of lessons this winter, as they take part in the biggest school wildlife survey in the world.

Schoolchildren will be counting the birds in their school grounds as part of Big Schools’ Birdwatch, run by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, which has been helping to track bird populations in schools for over a decade.

Running from January 20 to February 14 2014, the national survey encourages schoolchildren of all ages, and their teachers, to discover which birds they share their school grounds with and learn about their behaviour.

The results help the RSPB build a picture of birds visiting school grounds and any population changes.

Almost 2,500 classes, involving 75,000 children and teachers, took part in the survey across the country last year.

Participants discovered that for the fifth year running, the blackbird is the most commonly seen bird in school grounds with 89% of schools seeing an average of six.

The starling took the second spot, with more than 40% of schools seeing an average of 4.2.

And the black headed gull came third, knocking the wood pigeon off that spot from last year.

Faye Strange, Big Schools’ Birdwatch project manager said: “For two weeks this winter it will be perfectly acceptable for schoolchildren to gaze out of the classroom window! “They will be eagerly awaiting a wild visitor that they can add to their list of sightings for the RSPB’s Big Schools’ Birdwatch.

“Seeing it first hand is the single best way to enthuse young people about nature and by watching birds from their classroom window they can learn so much.”

The society has also introduced the Little Schools’ Birdwatch, designed for 5’s and under, and the Really Big Schools’ Birdwatch, for 11-14 year olds.

For further information and to get hold of a free Big Schools’ Little Schools’ or Really Big Schools’ Birdwatch teachers’ pack, visit rspb.org.uk/schoolswatch

The Big, Little and Really Big Schools’ Birdwatches are part of the world’s biggest birdwatching event; the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch. It takes place over the weekend of 25 and 26 January 2014.