The Garden Bird Survey Needs You!
Celebrating its 10th birthday this year, the Garden Bird Survey is one of New Zealand’s oldest citizen science projects, as Kimberley Collins finds out.
Every year for the past decade, thousands of people head into their backyards to help monitor local bird populations during New Zealand’s national Garden Bird Survey.
“Having 10 years of data will make analysing trends over time very interesting. We can say which bird is the most common each year, but we need more time to compare before we can get a handle on long-term trends” explains Eric Spurr, who coordinates the Garden Bird Survey.
To date, the house sparrow has come out on top each year as the most common garden bird, but Eric says this will vary from garden to garden, based on location and whether people are feeding birds.
“We usually see more birds and species variation in rural gardens, but house sparrows and greenfinches are more common in urban gardens,” he says.
“There are often a higher number of birds in gardens where people are feeding birds, though the kind of species depends on what food they’re putting out. Bread and seeds attract house sparrows and finches, while people who put out sugar water and fruit are more likely to see tūī, bellbirds and silvereyes.”
The annual survey is thought to be one of New Zealand’s oldest citizen science projects. Last year was one of the most popular to date with more than 3,500 people recording more than 138,000 birds, and Eric hopes that even more people take part this year.
“The more people that take part, the better quality our data will be – especially in smaller regions where fewer people participate,” he says.
Make sure to head into your backyard between 25 June and 3 July to do the Garden Bird Survey.
Garden Bird Survey – the story so far
To celebrate the 10 years of the survey, Landcare Research have produced a series of videos highlighting what the project has learnt so far about 16 common garden birds. The videos explore how bird numbers vary depending on the type of garden you have and where you live based on the 25,000+ gardens surveyed by volunteers across New Zealand since the survey began in 2007.
How can you help?
Photograph the birds in your garden and share them in the Garden Bird Survey Facebook group.
Encourage your child’s school to get involved and do the survey together as a class topic.