Starlings top the school charts

STARLINGS are top of the feathered pops when it comes to numbers spotted in school grounds.

A UK-wide survey of wildlife has revealed that the starling is the most common visitor to South Yorkshire school grounds, with schools taking part in the RSPB’s Big Schools’ Birdwatch reporting seeing an average of 5.54 starlings at each establishment.

Almost 90,000 school children and teachers stepped up for nature by taking part in the wildlife survey, which celebrated its tenth birthday this year.

Nearly 3,000 classes from more than 2,000 schools were involved, a record-breaking number for the survey.

Over the last ten years, the Big Schools’ Birdwatch has highlighted the winners and losers in the school bird world, with more than 70 different species recorded in school grounds, ranging from blackbirds and house sparrows to kestrels and even pheasants.

Laura Bowman, RSPB Big Schools’ Birdwatch manager, said: “The Big Schools’ Birdwatch is a great way to introduce thousands of children to the wildlife visiting their school environment.

The survey, for which children and their teachers spend an hour counting the birds in their school grounds, took place between January 24 January and February 4, with a total of 111,379 birds counted.

This year, the house sparrow and woodpigeon complete the top three in South Yorkshire, with an average of 3.82 and 3.63 per school respectively.

Laura added: “The survey also provides a real purpose for their observations as they contribute scientific data. The results help the RSPB to build a picture of birds visiting school grounds and the population changes they are experiencing.”

For the full UK-wide Big Schools’ Birdwatch results, visit the rspb.org.uk/schoolswatch website.

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