Citizen scientists: The NZ Garden Bird Survey needs you
Friday 05 Jul 2019
One of New Zealand’s longest running citizen science projects, the New Zealand Garden Bird Survey, has taken off again this week.
The survey, now in its thirteenth year, has counted birds in more than 36,000 gardens during that time – but there is still more work to be done.
This year’s survey runs until Sunday 7 July. So far, more than 1300 survey forms have been returned online. However, more are needed. The more people who take part, the clearer the overall picture of our native and introduced bird species and the environment they live in.
To take part, simply spend an hour in your garden in the daytime and count the birds that you see. Parks and schools are also good locations to do the count.
It’s easy to submit your survey, either online or by post. Once submitted, the surveys are analysed by Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research scientists who use them to produce the State of New Zealand Garden Birds report.
What did last year’s survey show?
The 2018 survey showed that kererū counts have risen rapidly since 2013, with an increase of more than 80% noted in Canterbury and Marlborough and more than 70% in Waikato and Hawke’s Bay. The numbers of tūī seen by survey participants increased 245% in Canterbury and 73% in Marlborough over the same period.
Manaaki Whenua research associate Dr Eric Spurr, who initiated this nationwide citizen science project in 2007, says the survey and its results are vitally important because birds act as ‘backyard barometers’, telling us about the health of environment in which we live.
‘Much like canaries in coal mines in the old days’, he says.
‘The survey would not have been possible without volunteers,’ Dr Spurr says. ‘We are grateful to the many thousands of people, citizen scientists, who since the survey began 12 years ago have spent an hour each year counting birds in their gardens.’
Buller's Birds & colouring competition
This year, as an added incentive to participate we are offering prints from Buller’s Birds of New Zealand as spot prizes, with 47 to choose from, as well as a children’s colouring competition, which continues through the school holidays, with prizes from TopFlite and Forest & Bird.