About Garden BirdWatch
Garden BirdWatch is designed to find out how, when and why birds and other animals use our gardens. Participants send in weekly lists of garden birds and other wildlife, which are are analysed by scientists working under the BTO's urban and garden ecology research programmes, to investigate the links between changes in wildlife populations and factors such as garden management, food, weather and urban structure.
These are important questions because gardens are important for biodiversity, and will become increasingly important as our landscape becomes more urbanised. The more we can understand about how wildlife uses garden resources, the more we can improve our cities, towns, villages and individual gardens for nature.
BTO launched Garden BirdWatch in January 1995, inviting participants to send in weekly lists of the birds seen in their gardens. In 2003, the survey was expanded to include other wildlife, including mammals, amphibians, reptiles, butterflies, bumblebees and (from 2011) dragonflies. Garden BirdWatchers record the features of their gardens, and make a note of what food they put out each week. They can also record whether they see any incidences of sick or dead wildlife.
This national network of garden observers also helps with other questions about garden habitats, including targeted surveys for House Sparrows and Blackcaps, amongst others, and also forms the basis of a network of sites to monitor wildlife disease, via the Garden Wildlife Health project.
Garden BirdWatch is funded by the participants, who generously contribute a £17 annual subscription which goes towards the running costs of the survey.
Another important aim of GBW is to help people learn about and connect with the wildlife in their gardens. The annual subscription includes an informative book on garden wildlife, as well as Bird Table magazine four times a year, which includes tips on what to look for, how to identify garden wildlife, and news about how Garden BirdWatch records have been used. Taking out a subscription to GBW is also a great way to support the survey, and learn about garden wildlife, for people who aren't able to submit records.
We are currently unable to mail out our normal free book, welcome pack or magazines. The free offer will include access to our online recording system, and our regular e-newsletter with information on recording and identifying garden wildlife. The free membership will be valid for one year, after which it will expire as normal.
What we can learn from 25 years of watching gardens
Exploring the value of a complete quarter-century of weekly garden bird observations from BTO's Garden BirdWatch covering the length and breadth of the country.
The urban sprawl
BTO's Head and Principal Ecologist, Gavin Siriwardena, explains how the urban landscape is affecting our wild bird populations.