Citizen Science

Garden birds, count the birds

If you enjoy birdwatching, make good use of your enthusiasm to help naturalists understand how bird populations are changing. Since 2012, the Garden Birds participatory science programme has given you the opportunity to become scientists’ helpers.

Why should we be counting birds?

Do urban nesting boxes have an impact on sparrows’ tendency to live in cities? Do migrating birds return sooner when spring starts earlier? When there is reduced availability of wild seeds in winter, are seed-eating birds more inclined to frequent feeders in gardens located near to arable land? Mass observations of bird species are invaluable for gathering information on a large scale. Analysing data gathered by many people provides an exact, up-to-date inventory of birdlife. The Garden Birds (Oiseaux des jardins) participatory science programme, based on bird counts, enables scientists to track when these animals visit our green spaces, to investigate the reasons and understand the phenomena that regulate the migration patterns of bird populations.

To help you

To enable you to identify the birds, the input page features a series of 20 thumbnails describing the 20 species you are most likely to spot. There are 32 additional thumbnails for garden visitors that are seen less frequently or are harder to identify. Take a look at these afterwards. To make your job easier, birds with a similar appearance are shown side by side, in order to make the differences between them immediately clear. Help sheets for the count and for each species  are also available on the website.

How do you take part?

Learn how to recognise birds and count them on a regular basis in your garden, in the square near your home, in a well-defined area of a large public park, or even on your balcony. As a first step, select an observation point that works practically for you. Once you have decided on this, click on the “I would like to take part” button on the Garden birds website. You need to register and describe your observation area so that it can be properly localised and catalogued. Don’t worry, you’ll be given step by step guidance. Once you’re all signed up, it’s down to you!

Spot and count only the birds you see in your garden, whether it’s year-round, daily, once a month or from time to time, with two important times - the last weekend in January (for wintering birds) and the last weekend in May (for nesting birds). When you have at least ten or so minutes to spare, position yourself in a strategic location, either indoors or outdoors, to avoid disturbing our feathered friends. In order to avoid counting the same birds several times over, you should only note the maximum number seen at one time, by species, in your area. For instance, if you first see 4 sparrows, then another one just afterwards, the number you should note down is 4, not 5.

As well as making a contribution to science, we bet that you, your family and friends will soon become expert birdwatchers!

To take part

If you would like to sign up for the “Garden Birds” Participative Science monitoring programme, visit the special website.

Garden birds monitoring website

Le programme Garden Birds (Oiseau des jardins) programme is coordinated in collaboration with LPO (French League for the Protection of Birds)