Landcare Research - Manaaki Whenua

Landcare-Research -Manaaki Whenua

Nationwide Garden Bird Survey begins this weekend

Thursday 26 Jun 2014

Female house sparrow. Image - A. Walmsley

Female house sparrow. Image - A. Walmsley

Kiwi nature-lovers are being asked for their help for an important wildlife survey – and you don’t even have to leave your living room or school classroom to take part.

The eighth annual New Zealand Garden Bird Survey aims to track the fortunes of our familiar feathered friends through backyard bird watching – and by spending just one hour between Saturday 28 June and Sunday 6 July recording the birds that visit your garden, you’ll provide wildlife experts with a picture of how both our native birds and other winged residents are faring.

Organiser Eric Spurr says it’s vital that participants only record the largest number they see or hear at any one time to ensure that individual birds are not counted twice.

“For example, if you see one blackbird on your lawn at the start of your count but then it flies away, and later you see a blackbird fly back onto your lawn, the number you record is one, not two. However, if later still you see two blackbirds on your lawn at the same time then you should change your count from one to two.

“You don’t have to watch your whole garden, just part of the garden will do. Also, you don’t have to be outside to do the survey. You can do it from the luxury of your kitchen or living room looking out the window at part of the garden,“ Dr Spurr says.

The survey has been running for 7 years now, and some trends are starting to appear such as increasing counts of Tui and Fantail .

“However it is too soon to know whether these increases are part of a longer-term trend or just part of normal fluctuations in numbers over time. Seven years is not a long time, and the results of this year’s survey could change the current trends.”

House Sparrow (12.8 per garden) was again the most numerous species counted in our gardens in last year’s Garden Bird Survey. The second most numerous, and most numerous native species, was Silvereye (7.5 per garden). These two species are by far the most numerous counted in our gardens.

For full instructions, bird identification guides, and a copy of the survey form (and an online data entry form) please visit

2013 results

Table of the top 10 birds in 2013 nationally and in the five main regions (average number per garden). National averages were calculated from 16 regional averages weighted by the regional proportions of households.

Species National Auckland Waikato Wellington Canterbury Otago
House sparrow 12.8 11.5 13.4 14.3 12.0 9.6
Silvereye 7.5 4.1 7.4 6.5 12.8 20.5
Starling 2.3 1.3 2.8 2.6 3.1 2.0
Blackbird 2.3 2.1 2.4 2.7 2.3 2.1
Tui 1.5 1.8 1.4 1.7 0.1 1.9
Myna 1.4 2.5 2.1 0.01 0 0
Fantail 1.2 1.1 1.6 0.9 0.5 0.5
Greenfinch 1.1 0.8 1.2 0.9 2.4 1.9
Chaffinch 1.0 0.6 1.1 1.5 1.1 1.0
Goldfinch 0.8 0.5 1.1 0.8 1.0 0.8

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