Take part in backyard bird survey

Last updated 12:28 29/06/2013
Andrew Walmsley

BIRDS EYE: A male European blackbird sits among grass.

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The seventh annual Garden Bird Survey gets under way today, with last year's results showing that the house sparrow is still the most prolific species in our back gardens.

To take part in the survey, go here.

It seems that a pattern may be emerging, with the 2012 statistics confirming previous years' results showing silvereyes taking silver, starlings the bronze, and blackbirds back in fourth.

Organiser Eric Spurr says the survey provides valuable data on trends in garden bird populations, which could boost conservation efforts, such as the Greater Wellington Regional Council and the Department of Conservation's rat, possum and stoat control programmes.

The pest control operations have helped to boost native bird numbers in urban bush reserves like Karori's Zealandia wildlife sanctuary, and the survey shows that populations of tui are relatively high in the Wellington region.

But there is little evidence yet of an increase in native birds in gardens across the region as a whole.

The survey also provides useful information about variations in bird populations throughout the country.

"Yellowhammer counts are much higher in Wellington than anywhere else, and I'm still trying to get to the bottom of that," Mr Spurr says.

As expected, there are far fewer mynas in the capital than further north. "But for most species, Wellington results are generally typical of the country as a whole."

In the long term, researchers want to find out whether the number of birds, especially natives such as tui, fantails, bellbirds, kereru and grey warblers, are increasing or decreasing in Kiwi gardens.

Its main purpose is to monitor long-term trends and regional variations, for use by other scientists.

A total of 4060 people participated in survey nationally last year, of which 753 (18.5 per cent) were from the Wellington region.

In total, 156,977 birds were counted in last year's survey, of which 23,900 were tallied in Wellington.

The survey is done over one hour and should be completed between today and next Sunday, July 7. Anyone who can identify birds in their gardens can take part.

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- The Dominion Post


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