THE world’s largest garden wildlife survey returns this month, with hundreds of thousands of people watching and counting the UK’s garden birds over the last weekend in January for the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch.

Over half a million people took part in 2023, counting more than nine million birds. In West Yorkshire, over 15,000 people took part, with the house sparrow taking the top spot as the most commonly seen bird, followed by the blackbird and starling.

This year’s event takes place on January 26, 27 and 28, 2024. People are asked to spend an hour watching and counting the birds in their garden, balcony or local park, then send their results to the RSPB.

Local nature group Wildlife Friendly Otley is encouraging its members and as many people as possible to spare an hour on Saturday or Sunday counting the birds visiting their garden. It is open to anyone and is a great way to start appreciating the wildlife our wonderful area offers.

Details of how to take part are on the RSPB website: where you get a full guide and tips on attracting and identifying birds.

Wildlife Friendly Otley says anyone can take part and you don’t need any special equipment - although you may find a slice of cake and cup of tea helps you focus during the hour! "It is a wonderful way to start appreciating the wildlife our region offers," they said.

“You can be surprised and wowed by your local wildlife. It's a great way to get the children and whole family interested in wildlife,” added Neil Griffin, wildlife expert and education officer for Wildlife Friendly Otley. "The Charity is supporting the RSPB campaign with its own schemes to help local nature, such as its ‘Gardens for Wildlife’ campaign, which will help restore essential nature networks back to the town."

This year’s event marks 45 years since the first Big Garden Birdwatch. Starting in 1979, it has since become a much-loved annual citizen science event, that gives the RSPB a valuable snapshot of how garden birds are doing in the UK. Over that time, 185 million birds have been counted and nearly 11.5 million hours spent watching and counting garden birds.

To take part in the Big Garden Birdwatch, sign up at Then simply watch the birds on your balcony, in your garden or in your local green space for one hour. Only count the birds that land, not those flying over.