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: 28 June – 6 July 2014

Early results – house sparrow tops again

Number of species per garden.Early results, from 1029 returns submitted online, show house sparrow is by far the most numerous species counted again this year (average 12.9 per garden), the same as last year’s count. One survey participant noted, “Sparrows had a good breeding season last summer”. Another said, “Sparrows so many we just guesstimated”! House sparrow numbers have generally increased over the past 7 years.

However, the silvereye count this year (4.5 per garden) is the lowest on record, and much lower than last year (7.5 per garden). Several survey participants suggested this may be because the early part of the winter this year has been quite mild, and birds have not come into gardens in search of food as much as they would when conditions are harsher. 

Counts of tui and fantail, which have increased over the past 7 years, are about average so far this year.

Results are updated as they are entered online.

The survey finishes on Sunday 6 July, so just 2 days to go.




  • 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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