This weekend, count the birds in your garden

May 28, 2022 at 9:41 a.m.,

Reading time: 4 minutes


The protocol to follow is simple: this Saturday, May 28 or Sunday, May 29, go out into the garden with a notebook and a pencil and sit at a good observation post. And then: stay tuned. A bird sits on the ground ? Another points its beak between the leaves ? In one hour – no more, no less – you are invited to identify each bird seen, or photograph it if it is not familiar to you.

Since 2013, the League for the Protection of Birds (LPO) coordinates a citizen science program serving its Garden Bird Observatory. Each year, a first counting weekend takes place in January, during the period of hibernation, migration or simple survival in the gardens, depending on the species. The second weekend is held at the end of May, for another phase in the life of birds: reproduction and nesting. It is a question of redouble your attention: the birds are then less easily observed. They defend their territories, evolve less in groups. And then in May there are no more feeders to attract them, since it is advisable to stop feeding the birds at the end of winter »emphasizes Marjorie Poitevin, program manager at the LPO.

Nearly 4,000 people took part in the game in May 2021. Alexis Orseau/LPO

Nearly 4,000 people took part in the game in May 2021. The number of participants is constantly increasing over the years », remarks Marjorie Poitevin. On average, twenty-three birds per garden had been sighted in an hour. Beware of duplicates: if several individuals of the same species appear successively, the LPO advises not to add them, but to note the maximum number seen simultaneously.

Common species… unfortunately not so common anymore »

The Garden Bird Observatory focuses on about fifty species that are easily observed in gardens: blackbird, great tit, house sparrow… », she explains. The winter count includes some species specific to certain regions of France ; but overall, we are on common species… unfortunately not so common as that ». The goldfinch, for example, is experiencing a population decline of 30 % since the beginning of the 2000s according to the LPO.

This is why the periods and the observation protocol have been the same for ten years: the idea is to be able to compare the data collected. This fall, the LPO will do a work of synthesis of all these years of citizen observation. A major project, to determine whether what is happening in the gardens is in line with the general trends observed in the natural environment », says Marie Poitevin. Namely, a bird extinction crisis since the 1990s ». Hopefully, the data will show that certain species come to find refuge in the gardens, and reproduce there specifically ».

We are witnessing “ bird extinction crisis since the 1990s »

It will then be a question of better protecting them. This is the other objective of these national counts: to make citizens aware of the presence of birds in their gardens, and of actions to preserve them: put up birdhouses, don’t trim hedges, don’t cut their lawn all the time »quotes for example Marjorie Poitevin.

Beyond the national counting periods, the most motivated can continue to watch over the birds. First, the Garden Bird Observatory can be fed all year round. Then, the most enlightened amateurs – those who recognize birds by their song – can join the Stoc network (temporal monitoring of common birds). Beyond birds, there is the Faune France database which also lists mammals, reptiles… And for those who do not find what they are looking for, the Open portal offers a directory of all existing participatory science initiatives around biodiversity. .

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