Many of us at Topflite have grown up in Otago and seen first-hand the change in the landscape and, with this change, the local fauna. While the more dramatic changes have obviously taken place far from our gardens the impact is nonetheless evident from the type of birds that are turning up.
In Otago there has been a 37% increase in house sparrows between 2007 and 2016. The public has reported a 36% increase in greenfinch and a 22% increase in tūi sightings.
In that time there has been what’s termed a ‘shallow decline’ in kererū, a ‘moderate’ decline in song thrushes (27%) and perhaps most concerning, a ‘rapid decline’ in the once-numerous silvereye (54% drop in sightings).
Nationwide there isn’t quite the same extremes as we’re finding in our local backyards. However clear trends are emerging. Of note, the swallow has increased 52% in sightings, the greenfinch 26% and the tūi 14%. The song thrush, goldfinch, starling and silvereye report the largest drop in sightings.
Some of these numbers are worth celebrating. However it’s also important to take everything in context. With the exception of massive human encroachment many changes in wider ecosystems don’t happen ‘overnight’.
It’s why a look at the collected data over ten years is so important. It helps scientists and ecologists nationwide in their reporting and planning. It separates the big picture from the small details – and encourages small acts that can make a big difference.
It also makes it that much easier to support and advocate for greater conservation and reforestation efforts around the country. The more New Zealand knows about its bird life the easier it is to channel resources and assistance to where it can do the most good.
Please, find an hour within the week between the 30th of June and the 8th of July to do the New Zealand Garden Bird Survey. You can get further information by going to the Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research site.