Landcare Research - Manaaki Whenua

Landcare-Research -Manaaki Whenua

Backyard beats | What are our birds telling us?

Birds act as 'backyard barometers' - telling us about the health of the environment we live in. We should be listening.

Birds are signalling significant changes in our environment over the last 11 years, according to the State of NZ Garden Birds 2017 | Te Āhua o ngā Manu o te Kāri i Aotearoa 2017 report just released by Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research.  Using cutting-edge techniques, researchers have distilled a large information base – bird counts gathered by New Zealanders from over 31,000 garden surveys since 2007 – into simple but powerful metrics.

  • A positive picture is emerging for a native garden bird, tūī (kōkō); this species has increased across all regions, albeit at a relatively low rate (22% over 11 years).
  • In sharp contrast, silvereye (tauhou) counts have almost halved over the same period.
  • Several introduced birds that often feed on ground-dwelling invertebrates have declined by 10% or more: blackbird (manu pango), dunnock, chaffinch (pahirini), song thrush and starling (tāringi).

Click images to enlarge.