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Annual New Zealand Garden Bird Survey Kicking Off This Saturday
Good news for tuis, but bad for silvereyes (CCSS Level: Grade 9, Words: 430)
Jun 22, 2017 Science & Technology
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"Birds are important indicators of the health of New Zealand's environment, and to help us discover and learn more about NZ garden birds, participate in this citizen science project. Learn more about the NZ Garden Bird Survey - there are lots of new activities and resources to keep everyone entertained." Landcare Research has just published data drawn from its annual survey, which kicks off again this Saturday, that shows the range of species counted has declined over the past decade.

Scientists have observed alarming declines among some of New Zealand's best known garden birds.

A decade of survey numbers shows our most common native bird found in our garden, the silvereye, (sometimes called wax-eyes), had declined by 44 per cent nationally, with particular drops observed in Otago and Southland. The results come from surveys of nearly 30,000 gardens since 2007. However the numbers counted applied specifically to bird numbers in gardens, not necessarily the species's overall population.

The changes in numbers has partly been put down to increasing winter temperatures over the 10 years that the citizen science project, covering nearly 29,000 gardens, has taken place. "It is possible that the mild winters mean more food was available in the surrounding countryside, so birds did not need to come into gardens in search of food as much as in cold winters," survey organiser Eric Spurr said.

Six of the most common species in our gardens, all introduced from Europe, had also declined, the data suggested. This included drops of between 25 to 50 per cent among starlings, goldfinches and song thrushes, and falls of between 10 and 25 per cent among chaffinches, dunnocks and blackbirds.

The causes for the declines may be due to both climate and urbanisation, the researchers said. But it wasn't all bad news: the data also showed tui counts had increased 14 per cent nationally over 10 years.

"This result is encouraging as it provides some early indications that habitat restoration efforts, such as predator control and re-planting native vegetation, in our urban and rural landscapes are starting to pay off," Spurr said. "It is also highlights the value of participating in the survey - the more that people take part, the richer the picture we will be able to build about the health of the environment we live in."

He urged people to take join in - this year's NZ bird survey beings on Monday and ends July 2. The public can participate by counting the species in their garden over a one hour period and report their findings online at http://www.landcareresearch.co.nz/science/plants-animals-fungi/animals/birds/garden-bird-surveys

Which is NOT a reason for doing the survey in winter?
birds come to gardens looking for food
birds come to gardens looking for shelter
it is rainy and colder
people have time in winter holidays
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