FAQs - Doing Garden BIrdWatch

Why is there a charge for Garden BirdWatch?

Running a national project like Garden BirdWatch, with its recording forms, online system and quarterly magazine, costs money. Options for finding the money to run the project are limited to 1) Government funding, 2) commerical sponsorship, 3) money given to the BTO by its supporters. Government funding has been targeted towards other habitats and high profile species of conservations conern, so is not available for Garden BirdWatch. We have received some support through commercial sponsorship in the past (but not enough to cover all the running costs) and sponsorship tends to be short-term, while the key to long-term monitoring is long-term financial support. It might seem cheeky to ask our supporters to pay for participation in a project like Garden BirdWatch when they are already giving their time to collect the data. However, this has been found to be the best way to maintain the long-term viability of the project. As long as people are prepared to support us, the project can keep going. It is your generosity that makes this work possible. It is also worth noting that we are a charity and so we do not run Garden BirdWatch to make a profit. We keep the annual subscription as low as we can, work hard to keep the running costs down, and use the money that you give to find out what is happening to our birds and other wildlife. You are supporting research that underpins and informs policy and conservation efforts.

Can I renew my support online?

Yes you can, through the RBS WorldPay system>>>

Should I record birds in flight?

One question that is asked on a regular basis is whether or not to record birds seen in flight above your garden. Because we are interested in birds that are using the resources that your garden provides, most birds seen in flight above your garden would not be recorded. There are some instances when a bird seen in flight will be using your garden and one of the best examples of this is when low-flying Swifts, Swallows and House Martins are hawking for insects. Often this happens in the evening or on a dull day, times when aerial insects are low to the ground. Use your commonsense and be consistent from one week to the next in the way that you record.

How can I make sure my form goes through the scanner?

Over 5% of the completed count forms we receive each quarter do not pass through the scanner first time. You can help to ensure that your forms go through first time by following these simple guidelines. 1. Check that you have marked the correct season and year. 2. Only mark one box on each line. 3. Don't use a pen that bleeds through to the other side of the form. 4. Only fold forms once, along the perforated line. 5. Do not write any notes on the form, use a Post-it note, stuck to the front of the form, to record any notes or errors that need attention.

Do I have to feed my birds to take part in Garden BirdWatch?

The simple answer is No! We are interested in receiving observations from all kinds of gardens, including both those where food is provided and where food is not provided. Because we keep a record of the food being provided on a weekly basis, we can look at how the provision of food can influence the birds that appear.

What should I do if I go away on holiday?

If you go away on holiday then you simply leave blank the weeks on the paper recording form for when you are away. It is sensible to gradually reduce the amount of food you are putting out prior to your departure, so the birds have begun to find alternative sources of food before your food runs out.