For the 11th consecutive year, the National Museum of Natural History and the League for the Protection of Birds (LPO) invite you to take part in the “Grand national count of garden birds 2023”, on January 28 and 29. The principle is simple: count for an hour the birds in your own garden or in a park or public garden, or even on your balcony. These data are compiled each year and allow scientists to learn more about “common birds”.
The Festival of Lights 2022 in Lyon
Garden bird counting operation is made to help scientists understand when and why birds visit gardens. Why do migrants return earlier when spring is early? Why do seed-eating birds come more to feeders in gardens close to agricultural plains where wild seeds would be lacking in winter? Or how do urban developments affect the ability of birds to live in the city? So many questions that will have answers thanks to the contributions of the participants in this biannual operation.
In January 2021, 541,442 birds were observed in 17,260 gardens that participated in this ninth national counting weekend! A number that has never been so high and which even anticipates the participation of 2020, in connection with the success of the operation “Confined but on the lookout”. The biggest participation ever recorded since its creation in 2013!
Of course, these figures are to be linked to the health situation of COVID: +44% of participants counting between 2019 and 2020.
Participation grows every year to the point of having been multiplied by more than 10 since 2012 to reach the record figure of 24,048 contributors at the last count in January 2022.
In 10 years, the operation has been carried out at least once a year in nearly 100,000 gardens spread over the entire metropolitan territory, from Leffrinckoucke (North) to Cerbère (Pyrénées-Orientales) and from Conquet (Finistère) to ‘in Furiani (Upper Corsica). About 6.5 million birds have been counted during nearly 115,000 hours of observation !
This unprecedented database now enables scientists to study the population dynamics of common birds frequenting gardens, and to compare them with the trends observed by monitoring programs. ornithological monitoring conducted by experts.
In May 2022, the trend is reversing. Only 3,894 gardens are listed and 3,786 volunteers took part in this event, i.e. 1% less than the previous year. For the record, this is the second time, in 10 years of existence, that a drop in the number of contributors has been observed. Admittedly, 1% decrease is not huge, but it is important to note that this count comes after 2 particular years in terms of participation. So it makes sense that the momentum is slowing down a bit now.
From these years of observation, it emerges a declining numbers of blackbirds, blue tits or eastern bullfinches in May et more and more rose-ringed parakeets, jackdaws or wood pigeons in January.
Over the past ten years, 41% of bird species observed in French gardens in the spring have seen their numbers decreasewhile half of them saw their population increase in winter.
Data that confirms the decline linked to the global destructuring of natural ecosystems already observed elsewhere. This is the case, for example, of Common Swift (-46%), victim of the disappearance of flying insects due to pesticides, the recurrence of heat waves and building renovations which reduce its possibilities of nesting under roofs.
Conversely, the results of the winter counts show an increase for almost half of the species, in particular the granivores (eg European goldfinch, chaffinch), while their national populations are however in sharp decline. This verdict can be explained in particular by the scarcity of food resources in areas of intensive agriculture and the transfer of these birds to gardens.
For Allain Bougrain Dubourg, President of the LPO : “Participatory sciences now allow as many people as possible to contribute actively to naturalist knowledge. The success of the Garden Bird Observatory demonstrates the usefulness and reliability of these counting operations as well as the interest of the French for local nature.”
The success of this observatory thus appears as a strong signal that testifies to the growing commitment of civil society to the scientific community.For Bruno David, President of the National Museum of Natural History
LPO France of January 24, 2023
For Bruno David, President of the National Museum of Natural History : “Through participatory science programs, it is a matter of taking an inventory of nature in order to know it better and contribute to the sustainable preservation of this common heritage. The success of this observatory thus appears as a strong signal that testifies to the growing commitment of civil society to the scientific community.“.
How to participate ?
To contribute, nothing more simple :
- Choose a counting day, Saturday 29 or Sunday 30 January, and a one-hour slot. Prefer the end of the morning or the beginning of the afternoon: the temperatures are a little warmer and the birds more active;
- Find a viewing spot in town or in the countryside. A public or private garden, a balcony, a courtyard…
- Count and record for 1 hour the names of the birds that visit the garden. Caution: do not count the species observed simply in flight, rather take into account the maximum number of birds observed simultaneously. Of them identification cards are available on the Observatory website and will help you recognize bird species more easily.
- At last, enter your data on the site of theGarden Bird Observatory.
A report by our colleagues D. Brignand, A. Rémond and A. Véjux from France 2 PACA made in Vence in the Alpes-Maritimes. Interviews with Jonathan Corjon, biodiversity officer for the League for the Protection of Birds and Tom Bettini, nature coordinator for the League for the Protection of Birds.
video length: 01min 50
National Backyard Bird Count
The LPO in PACA
Members, volunteers and employees of the LPO PACA act daily in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region for the protection of nature.
- 3,200 members nowadays;
- 25 employees and more than 250 volunteers participate in the life of the association;
- More than 980 animals injured are welcomed every year in the Regional Wildlife Conservation Center thanks to the referral network made up of volunteers
- 1 115 refuges LPO representing 3363 hectares of protected nature;
- Each year, more than 9,000 children benefit from entertainmentbiodiversity education;
- 38,500 visitors are made aware of biodiversity each year through conferences, nature outings, educational workshops, exhibitions, on LPO stands, at the nature area of Salins d’Hyères, etc. In 2010, the LPO PACA relayed the International Year of Biodiversity throughout the regional territory;
- 700,000 data were compiled for the first regional Atlas of breeding birds in PACA on sale in bookstores or on the LPO’s online sales service;
- 4 million data on the online atlas wwwfaune-paca.org with more and more data.