The country’s longest-running annual citizen science project begins today, and it is hoped thousands of people will sit in their gardens for an hour sometime over the next nine days, to count birds.
Data from the survey will help scientists understand the health of garden bird populations and the wider environment.
However, Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research environmental social science researcher Dr Gradon Diprose said the survey might also be good for the health of those participating in the count.
In 2020, surveyors were asked about their experiences while taking part.
He said some people talked about how they did not have time to join a conservation or nature group, but they liked being able to participate in a large collective effort like the bird survey because it was more flexible.
They liked they were part of something that involved thousands of other people who cared about the same thing — birds and nature.
“A majority of people also reported a greater sense of wellbeing after spending time in the garden.
“We had people saying it was a good opportunity to slow down.
“Participants talked about feeling curiosity, joy, fun, wonder and a sense of connection.”
Dunedin participant Ian McGee said he started doing the survey when it first began in 2007.
“I really like the idea of being able to track what is in my garden over time.
“I also had two young children and I wanted a way to encourage them to start identifying birds, and to use their sharp eyes to spot things I might have missed.
“One of the things I worry about is that because kids are watching wildlife television programmes, they start to think that nature only happens in places like the Serengeti and other exotic places.
“But really, all you need to do is stick your nose out of your window at home and sit and watch.”
Survey founder Dr Eric Spurr said he looked forward to the survey every year and was delighted at the increasing number of people who were taking part.
“The results show the value of long-term citizen science monitoring, and while the survey does not attempt to determine the causes of changes in bird counts, it is tempting to think increases in counts of native birds reflect the results of increased predator control and habitat restoration activities around the country.”
This year’s survey concludes on July 2, 2023.