Schoolchidlren across West Yorkshire are to take part in the biggest survey of birdlife in UK schools this winter.
Up to 2,000 schools take part each year in the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds’ s Big Schools’ Birdwatch focussing on the bird population.
The survey has helped to track bird populations through involvement of schools for the last decade.
The survey runs from January 16 to 23. It encourages children and their teachers to discover and learn about the birds that share their school environment.
The survey also helps the RSPB build a picture of bird populations and the changes they are experiencing – including threatened species.
Almost 90,000 schoolchildren and teachers took part in the survey last year. Nearly 3,000 classes from more than 2,000 schools were involved – a record-breaking number for the survey.
Since its launch in 2002, more than 70 different species have been recorded in school grounds, ranging from starlings and house sparrows to kestrels and even pheasants.
Emma Reed, the RSPB’s Education Officer for Northern England, said: “For the past 10 years, we’ve been asking young people to count the birds in their school grounds. As well as contributing to our understanding of the changes in bird numbers, Big Schools’ Birdwatch does a fantastic job of inspiring thousands of children about nature.”
Last year in West Yorkshire, the most common bird spotted was the blackbird with an average of 4.52 per school. The house sparrow and starling completed the top three, with an average of 3.14 and 2.85 per school respectively.
A host of curriculum-linked learning can flow from the survey, with flexibility built-in to run as simply as teachers would like. Some schools make the activity the centrepiece of a week devoted to learning about wild birds while others hold after-school wildlife clubs or as part of work to improve their school grounds.
The project involves different categories for different-sized schools and age groups Visit www.rspb.org.uk/schools watch or ring 0300 456 8340.