BirdWatch Ireland is calling for the public’s help to keep track of our beloved garden birds by participating in the Garden Bird Survey which is now in its 30th year. The survey starts on Monday 3rd of December and runs to the end of February. Each year hundreds of households across Ireland take part providing important information on how some of our more common bird species like the Robin fare over the challenging winter months. As the Irish countryside changes, gardens are becoming increasingly important havens for many species, and it is vital for us to know how their populations are faring.
“This is the 30th year of the survey, so we want to make it the biggest year yet. We are delighted that Ballymaloe Group are sponsoring the Survey this year” said Brian Burke, who coordinates the survey for BirdWatch Ireland. “We’re particularly keen to boost the number of participants from counties in the west and midlands. We tend to get most participants from areas around cities where there are more people, but we want to the data to be representative of the entire country”.
The Garden Bird Survey is the biggest and longest-running citizen science project in Ireland and really easy to take part in. It is open to everyone with a garden, whether it’s smaller than a tennis court or bigger than a football pitch. Participants record the highest number of each species seen each week and send the information to BirdWatch Ireland when the survey finishes at the end of February. A basic interest in the birds of your garden is all you need. BirdWatch Ireland is also happy to help if you need it.
Burke said “A lot of people will do the survey before work in the mornings, and then keep a closer eye on their gardens at the weekend” he says. “Every year we get great feedback from people participating for the first time, and a lot of households make it a family affair and get the kids involved too”.
Over the last thirty years the survey has documented the rise of the Goldfinch in gardens across the country due to better over-wintering survival, and the decline of the Greenfinch over the same period due to the trichomonas parasite. Each winter there’s a battle at the top between the Robin, Blackbird and Blue Tit, and the number of other species varies a lot from year to year depending on how successful breeding was the previous summer, how cold it gets over the winter, and how many birds arrive from overseas to spend the winter in Ireland.
There are two ways for you to send your records. You may use the online version of the survey, allowing you to submit your records electronically.
- Simply go to our online surveys section and register your details, then follow the on-screen instructions.
- Alternatively, and as in previous years, you can download the current Garden Bird Survey Form, print it, fill it out over the course of the winter and return it by post or fax on or before 1st April next year; a full set of instructions is included with the form.
The results of the GBS are published each year in the winter edition of Wings, our quarterly membership magazine . If you have a question about Garden Birds or about the survey, please contact us.