RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch UK 2023: top 10 British birdsongs to listen to boost mental wellbeing

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People are asked to record the types of birds which they see in their gardens to help with wildlife conservation every year

Each year, wildlife-lovers across the country are asked to spend one hour recording what types of birds they see in their garden or local park or beauty spot.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) hosts their Big Garden Birdwatch every January, with thousands of families setting up their bird feeders and cameras to document the birds that visit their gardens

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The UK has lost 38 million birds over the last 50 years, and so conservationists from the RSPB are relying on volunteers to help them get a better picture of the current bird population so they can be looked after. The survey results are used each year to provide insight into some of the most common species which are still living in Britain.

Last year, almost 700,000 people took part in Big Garden Birdwatch, all coming together to look out for birds - and in total more than 11 million birds were counted. The RSPB is encouraging even more people to take part in the event this year as they say that listening to birdsong can also boost mental health.

So, just when is the Big Garden Birdwatch and which birdsongs can help improve your wellbeing? Here’s everything you need to know.

The top 10 British birdsongs to listen to boost mental wellbeing.The top 10 British birdsongs to listen to boost mental wellbeing.
The top 10 British birdsongs to listen to boost mental wellbeing. | NationalWorld/ Kim Mogg

When is the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch?

The 2023 RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch takes place between Friday 27 and Sunday 29 January. It has been taking place every year since 1979, which means that this year is its 44th year.

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If you’re new to Birdwatch, the RSPB has got lots of top tips and expert advice on how to bring birds on to your patch all year round. Get some top tips now by visiting the RSPB website.

What are the top ten British birdsong?

Here are the top ten British birdsong you’ll be able to hear from the species visiting your garden, according to the British Library.

  • Nightingale
  • Blackcap
  • Black bird
  • Woodlark
  • Mistle thrush
  • Skylark
  • Robin
  • Song thrush
  • Wren
  • Marsh warbler

The RSPB said: “Nothing lifts the spirits in the morning more than the dawn chorus. Think of it as caffeine for the soul.”

If you’d like to hear an example of the birdsong of each of the ten birds above, and more, you can use the RSPB birdsong identifier. You can also tune in to the RSPB birdsong radio  to be able to listen to birdsong whenever you like.

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Why does listening to birdsong boost your mental health?

The RSPB commissioned a YouGov poll about the benefits of being in nature and found that 88% of UK adults said spending time outdoors enjoying the natural world was important to them. Of these, 53% stated it was very important, while 91% said that seeing birds and hearing birdsong had a positive impact on mental health and wellbeing.

Dr Amir Khan, the president of the RSPB, told The Guardian: “Working as a GP, I know just how important accessing green spaces is for our physical and mental wellbeing. Watching the blue tits and bullfinches enjoying the feeders in my garden is a constant source of comfort for me, and being on the frontline of the NHS I am very aware that comfort is something we all need now more than ever.”

The RSPB also says that listening to the birdsong can help you in many ways; from relaxing to boosting productivity. They believe you could use it:

  • To help you switch off and de-stress
  • As an alarm clock, for a gentle way to start the day
  • To help you focus while studying or working
  • As a soundtrack for meditation
  • To bring some calm to your daily commute

How will I know which types of birds I am seeing and hearing?

Unless you have an extensive knowledge of birds, the chances are you might need some help to identify exactly what species you are looking at when you take part in the Big Garden Birdwatch. With that in mind, the RSPB has created a bird identifier which lists 405 species of birds found in the UK, including some rare overseas visitors.

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You will be able to use one of the following filters on the website to get started with identifying the birds you see:

  • Where did you see it?
  • How big was it?
  • What colour were its feathers?
  • What was its beak like?
  • What was it doing?
  • What colour were its legs?

How can I take part in the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch?

If you’re wanting to take part in this year’s birdwatch, all you need to do is count the birds you see in your garden, from your balcony or in your local park or beauty spot for one hour during this week.

Next, go to the RSPB website to tell the charity what you saw - even if it was nothing at all. The RSPB website said: “The more people that submit their findings, the better picture we will have of how garden birds are faring.”

If you are unable to submit your results online, you can instead complete and send in a form. You can also use a guide to help you spot the birds you see, which can be downloaded from the website.

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