Farmers in Northern Ireland are encouraged to set aside just half an hour to get counting and join the Big Farmland Bird Count (BFBC).

Taking place from February 5 to February 14, 2021, the initiative run by the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust aims to show the public the positive impact farmland management has on protecting bird numbers – especially endangered species.

Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) deputy president David Brown will be among those taking part this year.

“The BFBC goes from strength to strength each year. In 2020, it was very promising to see bird count records being broken, especially considering the unprecedented circumstances,” Brown said.

This reflects the commitment farmers have to minding and protecting farmland bird species.

“Unfortunately, several bird species are in decline, and this emphasises the importance of the BFBC. It allows us to keep track of our farmland bird species and the impact of conservational schemes that have been introduced on-farm to boost their presence.

“Alongside producing climate-friendly food, our farmers are working hard to maintain and improve the iconic green countryside by enhancing habitats, supporting pollinators, birds and biodiversity.

I encourage our members to take time out to participate in BFBC. Farmers only need to dedicate half an hour over the 10-day period.

“It is a great opportunity to embrace nature during lockdown and to get all the family involved in a very important and fun initiative.

“You will be able to develop your own knowledge of bird species on our farmland, whilst also building a sound understanding of the role farming plays in delivering the countryside that we all enjoy as visitors and residents,” said the deputy president.

Farmers can take part by following three easy steps:

  1. Download a free count sheet and bird identification guide from;
  2. Pick one day and take 30 minutes to count the birds on one part of the farm; and
  3. Submit the results online.

The BFBC organisers recommend selecting one particular area on the farm, somewhere with a good view of around 2ha (4-5ac) of the farm.