Birds and birdsong help with life under lockdown, survey suggests

The RSPB is encouraging people to join its annual Big Garden Birdwatch to ‘lift spirits’ in the latest lockdown.

Birds and birdsong help with life under lockdown, survey suggests

Watching birds and listening to birdsong have helped people during the pandemic, polling suggests in the run-up to the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch.

The wildlife charity is expecting high levels of participation in its annual survey of garden birds this weekend, which has been running for 42 years, and is encouraging people to take part to help “lift spirits” in the latest lockdown.

A survey for the RSPB by YouGov ahead of the Big Garden Birdwatch reveals that nearly two thirds of those polled (63%) felt watching birds and hearing their song added to their enjoyment of life, especially in the last 12 months.

Blackbird on the lawn
Blackbirds bring song to people’s gardens (Ray Kennedy/RSPB/PA)

More than a third of people (36%) in the poll said they had learned something new about the wildlife in their local area since the pandemic began, and more than half (53%) have been feeding garden birds in the last 12 months.

Beccy Speight, the RSPB’s chief executive, said: “Lockdowns have brought few benefits, but the last year has either started or reignited a love of nature for many people.

A blue tit on a branch
Blue tits were the third most commonly seen bird in 2020 (Ray Kennedy/RSPB/PA)

“We know the bleak winter weather has made lockdown restrictions feel unbearable for many.

“But we hope the Birdwatch will help lift spirits and remind people nature is an incredible, reassuring constant when everything else has been disrupted. Nature will get us through.”

Robin on seed feeder with family watching in the background
It is hoped that taking part in the Big Garden Birdwatch will lift people’s spirits (Ben Hall/RSPB/PA)

And the charity said the birdwatch – which nearly half a million people took part in last year – was a perfect lockdown activity as anyone could get involved without any special equipment.

The public is asked to spend just one hour watching and recording the birds in their garden or balcony, counting only the birds that land, not those flying over, and recording the highest number of each bird species seen at any one time.

For those without gardens, and in keeping with the “virtual” life many people have experienced since the pandemic began, the RSPB is also inviting people to join the charity for a weekend of action online.

A greenfinch on a bird feeder
More than half of those polled for the RSPB have been feeding birds in the past year (Nigel Blake/RSPB/PA)

The Big Garden Birdwatch is an important tool for monitoring the fortunes of common garden birds, with house sparrows and starlings occupying the number one and two spots in 2020, but with data over the past four decades showing declines in both species. Blue tits were third in 2020.

Two more garden favourites, blackbirds and robins, have also seen significant declines since the survey began in 1979, the RSPB said.

For more information and to submit results online people can visit and can see the live action from Saturday January 30 at 9am at at

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