It will be eyes to the skies on Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th January as people the length and breadth of the country take part in the RSPB’s annual Big Garden Birdwatch.
Last year 225 people in Shetland joined over 47,000 Scots to count the birds in their garden or local parks.
The birdwatch is the biggest garden wildlife survey in the world. The event was launched in 1979 and provides RSPB Scotland with useful information regarding garden birds in winter. The information is also important in allowing conservationists to observe any declines.
Figures from Shetland last year showed the starling as the highest recorded species, appearing in 99.24 per cent of gardens with up to 22 being spotted at any one time.
Despite such high density in the isles, starlings are in decline across Scotland, with a presence of 42.29 per cent highlighting a seven per cent drop from 2012. The species has seen a 22 per cent overall drop since 2000.
That trend also applies to the house sparrow which, despite figures of 88.26 per cent and 67.95 per cent in Shetland and Scotland respectively, saw an eight per cent drop from the previous year.
Both species are on the UK’s bird conservation red list, which classifies species as globally threatened on breeding and population based criteria.
Coastal birds such as the herring gull and common gull were relatively prominent in Shetland with 23.26 per cent and 19.77 per cent respectively.
Other species recorded in Shetland last year included the feral pigeon at 48.84 per cent, the hooded crow at 38.37 per cent, the collared dove at 20.61 per cent and the brambling with just 1.16 per cent.
Species to appear on both Shetland and Scotland’s lists included the blackbird with 89.31 per cent in Shetland and 91.29 per cent in Scotland and the robin, which stood at 33.59 per cent and 88.88 per cent in Shetland and Scotland respectively.
To contribute to the Big Garden Birdwatch, all you have to do is spend an hour over the two days next weekend, noting the highest number of each bird species present in your garden our outside area at any one time.
You can find out more about the birdwatch on the RSPB website, or from RSPB staff who will be at the Planticrub in the Toll Clock Shopping Cenre tomorrow, where a 10 per cent discount will be available on all bird care products.