Landcare Research - Manaaki Whenua

Landcare-Research -Manaaki Whenua

Garden bird survey


The garden bird survey is a citizen science project established to monitor the population trends of common garden birds in New Zealand. It attempts to answer the question, “Are garden bird populations increasing, decreasing, or remaining stable?”

New Zealand has a number of rare native bird species that are declining in number, but we do not know the population trends of our more common native or introduced birds. We hope that the annual garden bird survey will act as an early-warning system if currently common native species start declining. Several currently common native species occur in our gardens, including fantail (shown above), tui, bellbird, silvereye, grey warbler, and kereru (native pigeon). Measuring the population trends of these species is an enormous task, which is why we need your help.

This year’s survey: 27 June – 5 July 2015

Results 2014

Silvereye pair snuggling up. Image - N. Secker

The most striking result from this year’s garden bird survey was that counts of several species were the lowest on record (e.g. silvereye, blackbird, song thrush, chaffinch, greenfinch, and goldfinch). The low counts may have been a result of mild weather in early winter. One participant, from central Otago, noted, “No silvereyes due to no snow on the hills”. The mild early winter may have meant that birds did not come into gardens in search of food as much as they would have if weather conditions were harsher.
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No. of Gardens Surveyed: 3220

No. of Species Detected: 75

Number of Birds Counted: 106,175 (average 33.0 per garden)




  • Spurr EB 2012. New Zealand garden bird survey - analysis of the first four years. New Zealand Journal of Ecology 36(3): 287-299.
  • Spurr E 2008. New Zealand garden bird survey 2007. Notornis 55: 52.
  • Spurr E 2008. Zealand garden bird survey July 2007. Southern bird 35: 9.
  • Spurr E 2007. New Zealand garden bird survey 2006. Notornis 54: 246.
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