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Garden birds scoop Lottery cash

'Citizen Science' for BTO

Thanks to a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £37,900, garden birds, together with those who watch them, are to benefit from a new initiative. Launched today by the British Trust for Ornithology, the Ambassadors Scheme sets out to encourage those with an interest in garden birds, helping them to become 'Citizen Scientists' and to engage with others to determine the changing fortunes of Britain's garden birds.Gardens are an important habitat for birds and they are one of the best places for people, from a wide range of backgrounds, to engage with wildlife. The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) already monitors the changing fortunes of birds within gardens through its network of 16,000 BTO/CJ Garden BirdWatchers. The Ambassadors Scheme will enable the BTO to engage with a wider audience than it does currently, introducing more people to the concept of using simple recording techniques to collect valuable scientific data (a process known as 'Citizen Science'). Professor Jeremy Greenwood, Director of the BTO said, "This is grass roots scientific research that anyone with access to a garden can participate in, to help us to monitor what is happening to birds in gardens."The ambassadors will promote the survey at a local level, through talks to a range of audiences, such as gardening groups, local wildlife trusts, bird clubs and the WI. They will also open the idea of 'Citizen Science' to new audiences and to those that have restricted access to the wider countryside, by highlighting the importance of counting and recording birds in gardens. The presentations will aim to encourage an active interest in wild birds by people that have never done this type of thing before. By taking part in the survey, and watching the birds in their gardens, individuals can help to make a real difference to our knowledge of these birds without even leaving the house.Paul Stancliffe, of the BTO/CJ Garden BirdWatch team said, "We are delighted to receive this grant. It will directly benefit garden birds and those that watch them, by enabling us to reach people that might not consider themselves able to take part in this kind of survey. The more people that take part across the country, the better idea we will have of how our garden birds are doing."

4th July 2014