Dunedin bird enthusiasts count backyard wildlife

Numbers of kereru continue to rise, according to the Landcare Research backyard bird survey....
Numbers of kereru continue to rise, according to the Landcare Research backyard bird survey. PHOTO: LISA ARGILLA WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY
The annual bird survey has ended and once again Dunedin "twitchers" enthusiastically supported the project.

By last Thursday, more than 6500 survey forms had been submitted recording almost 255,000 birds nationally. The count covered 131 species.

Once again, Otago birdwatchers had the greatest number of surveys per household and by earlier this week, Otago had submitted 744 forms.

The survey ran from June 26 to July 4 and all data had to be loaded by Tuesday. Each observer was asked to spend an hour recording the number of each species seen, heard or flying over an area.

Run by Landcare Research and supported by Birds NZ, the survey tracks numbers of birds, both native and introduced, and can indicate whether urban predator control efforts are working.

"Birds act as backyard barometers, telling us about the health of the environment we live in. They are signalling significant changes in our environment over the last 10 years. We should be listening," said a statement on the survey website.

Since the surveys started in 2010, bird counts have shown a 79% increase in kereru nationally, plus a slight increase (10%) in tui and waxeyes.

Last year, Otago bucked the national trend of a slight increase in piwakawaka (fantails) with twice the numbers seen the previous winter. More starlings and song thrushes were noted in Otago, too.

Data from this year’s survey will now be analysed and results announced later this year.

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