The New Zealand Garden Bird Survey is an annual citizen science project led by scientists at Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research, one of New Zealand’s Crown Research Institutes, for the past 16 years.
This year the survey runs from 25 June to 3 July, 2022.
Taking part in the NZ Garden Bird Survey involves spending an hour during one day of the survey period counting all the bird species in your garden, school, marae, or in a local park or reserve, and recording the highest number of each species seen or heard at any one time.
Birds keep our gardens vigorous, they reflect the state of our environment’s health, and encourage people to get involved in conservation. In the 16 years the NZ Garden Bird survey has run, scientists have noticed a gradual uptick in the numbers of native birds people have seen. This is encouraging and suggests that habitat restoration and predator control initiatives are having a positive effect on our bird life.
The more people who take part in the survey, the clearer and more detailed the national picture becomes.
To take part, go to gardenbirdsurvey.nz/take-part – there are numerous resources, including printable tally sheets with helpful identification pics of the birds most likely to visit your garden. Once you have done the count, you submit your results online and the surveys are analysed by Manaaki Whenua researchers.
Make your garden great for birds
It’s easy to make your garden bird-friendly. Protect and create suitable habitats by planting flowering and fruiting trees if you have space. Look after any trees or shrubs already in your garden. Create wild unmown areas in your garden – even small areas will do – that will act as ‘bug hotels’ to encourage bird visitors. And reduce your use of chemical treatments such as weedkillers and fertilisers. Make sure that household plastics don’t find their way into your garden.
Manage cats, even if that means putting a bell on them. Get in touch with Predator Free projects in your community, and consider using traps for possums, stoats and rats that visit your garden.
There are lots of benefits to having a bird-friendly garden. Birds are pollinators and seed distributors, so your garden will benefit from their visits. They are also bioindicators – they tell us about the health of our environment. Trends in their numbers may alert us to emerging environmental problems.
You will also personally benefit from joining the tens of thousands of other bird counters. Taking part in the survey helps you to make a personal connection with nature, which is known to be good for mental well-being. Watch birds in your garden, connect with nature and become a scientist for an hour, helping you and your tamariki to understand the role birds play in your garden’s ecosystem.
The New Zealand Garden Bird Survey runs between 25 June and 3 July this year. For more information see gardenbirdsurvey.nz.