The 2020 NZGBS results have arrived

July 02, 2021

With the 2021 NZ Garden Bird Survey recently completed the results from 2020 have also just been released.

In 2020 there were 5896 surveys completed, beating the previous best total (in 2018) by a stunning 1520 individual surveys. How many will there be this year? 

The results in 2020 are not just worth celebrating for the sheer number of participants. The valuable data provides unique insight into how our country sustains and, hopefully, grows birdlife and biodiversity.

From 2015 to 2020 there has been a marked increase in Kererū and pīwakawaka.

Thanks to the 39,994 completed surveys there are many more interesting figures available in the recent report, with fourteen common birds tracked for the last decade across the different regions of New Zealand.

Our native birds appear to be doing ok. From 2015 to 2020 there has been a marked increase in Kererū and pīwakawaka, Tūī are seeing a shallow increase in the long term, and the long-term decline in silvereye (tauhou) in several regions appears to have turned, with a slight increase nationwide over the last five years.

Introduced species show there is a long-term moderate decline in starlings counted. It’s also interesting to see how the myna has been increasing. There has been a steady increase in some regions in the North Island and a significant increase in sightings in the Wellington region. The national declines of song thrush, goldfinch and dunnock have been arrested too.

The survey therefore provides an important part of how scientists can see this bigger picture.

The expert analysis of these figures at Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research provide useful ‘backyard barometers’ once the raw data is collected, processed and contextualised used a range of innovative research techniques. Within the changing ecological landscape of Aotearoa there are a huge range of factors to consider when making such assessments – from climate change to predator control, suburban sprawl to reforestation efforts.

The survey therefore provides an important part of how scientists can see this bigger picture. It means there are now more tools with which to assess our impact within the environment, tools that can help shape how subsequent decisions are made and actions taken.

The Garden Bird Survey is also a personal journey for New Zealanders. For many suburbs the first arrival of a tūī is cause for celebration. For others a gradual increase of introduced species may be seen as a nuisance.

Citizen science is vital to understanding our place in nature alongside our feathered friends and backyard visitors. It’s why we encourage everyone to get out and take part in the survey. Let’s make sure we’re up for the count.

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