18 Jun 2020

Get involved - NZ Garden Bird Survey 2020

Posted in: Environmental news

NZ Garden Bird Survey 2020

New Zealand’s longest running citizen science project kicks off this month when the Garden Bird Survey starts on 27 June. Yes, it’s soon going to be time to dig out your lucky birdwatching hat, pull on the woolly socks, grab a chair and a cuppa tea, and head into the garden to count birds.

NZ Garden Bird Survey

This year’s Garden Bird Survey runs from 27 June to 5 July. Run by our parent company Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research, this year they are hoping for the biggest turnout of citizen scientists (you!) yet. Your birdwatching contributes real data to researchers who use it to understand our unique environment and biodiversity. So get twitching!

Over the years, the survey has shown important changes in our bird species.

The 2019 Garden Bird Survey revealed positive signals for four of our native species. Numbers of Fantail (Pīwakawaka), Tūī and Kererū have increased over the past 10 years and accelerated in the past five years. Also, the decline in Silvereye (Tauhou) has slowed in the past five years to 2 per cent.

Retired researcher Eric Spurr, who started the survey 14 years ago, says the decline in Tauhou could be because climate change raises the temperatures in gardens, so the species choose to stay in the forest where it’s cooler.

Other results since 2009 show declines across Aotearoa in counts of Song Thrush, Goldfinch, Starling and Dunnock.

Angela Brandt is an Ecologist/Modeller with Ecosystems and Conservation at Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research. She coordinates the survey and analyses the data.

Data is used in a variety of ways, including by regional councils who use it to inform predator control and biodiversity programmes. “We can see trends forming, and if needed create alerts,” she says.

The data builds up a picture of our environment – the more data there is, the more complete the picture. So the more people we get out in the gardens counting birds, the more we can understand not just our birds, but our whole environment. Head outside on 27 June and start counting!