Big Garden Birdwatch

If we asked you ‘what is the most common garden bird in the UK?’ what would your answer be?

Back in 1979, the RSPB launched a campaign to find out the answer to that very question! The idea was to get children counting the birds in their back gardens. Initially it was intended to be a one off, simple winter activity for the junior members of the RSPB. The junior members would participate one weekend at the end of January to find out the UK’s top 10 most common garden birds. It was only expected that a few hundred children would take part. To their surprise, thanks to the support of Blue Peter, more than 34,000 children took part!

Since 2001 adult members of the RSPB have also been able to take part, with over half a million people now taking part in the bird counting exercise.

The Big Garden Birdwatch enables scientists to compare year-on-year data and create a ‘snapshot’ of bird numbers across the UK. It also helps to spot problems with the bird population and helps the RSPB take early action to put things right.

Did you know that since the birdwatch began the population of the woodpigeon has grown a massive 800%! But how do you spot a woodpigeon I hear you ask? Well the RSPB have put together a handy tool to help you recognise 408 species of birds and you can access the 'Identify a bird' tool by visiting the RSPB website.

In 2018 an incredible 6,764,475 birds were spotted across the UK! But what were the top 10 most common garden birds in Kent?

1) House Sparrow

2) Starling

3) Blue tit

4) Collared Dove

5) Woodpigeon

6) Blackbird

7) Goldfinch

8) Great tit

9) Robin

10) Magpie

Did you know that the blackbird isn’t always black? We’ve put together some interesting facts about birds that you might find surprising:


Whilst the male blackbirds are black, females are brown, often having spots and streaks on their breasts.

Blue tit

What is a blue tit’s favourite food? You’d be correct if you answered seeds, nuts and fat. They are happiest when they are hanging off of feeders eating some lovely sunflowers seeds, peanuts and tasty fatty snacks.

Collared Dove

Can you tell the difference between your collared doves and your turtle doves? Well collared doves are a pale, pinky-brown colour and have a distinctive black neck collar. They also have deep red eyes and reddish feet.

House Sparrow

The most common of our garden birds, but how do you tell a male from a female? Well it is all about their chins and ‘bib’. The males have a black chin and ‘bib’, whereas the females are a more subtle shade of brown.


‘One for sorrow, two for joy…’ with their unmistakable purple, blue and green feathers, the magpie is one of the noisiest garden birds. But do you know what it eats? Absolutely anything!

If you’re now raring to get out in the garden and fancy being involved in this year's Birdwatch weekend, you can sign up on the Big Garden Birdwatch website.

You and your school can also get involved by taking part in the Big Schools' Birdwatch where educators from every corner of the UK are getting out in the playground to keep their beady eyes on the lookout for birds. You can find some useful resources to use in your classroom by visiting the RSPB resources page, where there are plenty of handy activity sheets to use in your lessons.

Not a fan of birdwatching and want some other free activities to do this weekend in Kent? Visit our blog on ‘Things To Do In Kent for FREE!’

Information sourced from the RSPB

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