Pupils invited to be eagle-eyed by RSPB

A Robin
A Robin

SCHOOLCHILDREN will have a perfectly valid excuse to gaze out of their classroom window this winter.

They have been invited to take part in the RSPB’s Big Schools Birdwatch, the biggest school wildlife survey in the world.

The survey will take place from January 20 to February 14 and encourages schoolchildren of all ages, and their teachers, to discover which birds they share their school grounds with and learn about their behaviour.

Pupils will spend up to an hour during the timeframe monitoring birds. The results will 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 per cent of schools seeing an average of six during their hour’s watch. The starling took the second spot, with more than 40 per cent of schools seeing an average of 4.2. And the black headed gull came third, knocking the woodpigeon off that spot from the previous year.

At the other end of the scale the robin was only spotted in 26 per cent of schools.

Faye Strange, Big Schools’ Birdwatch project manager, said: “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.

“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.

“What is the slightly menacing looking, large black bird that keeps foraging under the bushes? Why do house sparrows always seem to stick together and appear in large groups? And why is the robin seemingly so much more confident than much bigger birds?

“These are all questions that children will ask and learn about.”