Local Govt | National News Video | Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Search


Garden birds are signalling changes in our environment


New report shows garden birds are signalling changes in our environment

Tuesday 19th June

Birds are signaling major changes in our environment and a new report shows some of New Zealand’s birds are sounding the alarm.

‘Birds act as “backyard barometers”, telling us about the health of the environment we live in – and we should be listening,’ says Manaaki Whenua, ecologist Dr Catriona MacLeod.

The State of NZ Garden Birds 2017 | Te Āhua o ngā Manu o te Kāri I Aotearoa 2017, report was released by Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research on Tuesday.

This report draws on 31,000 bird counts gathered by volunteers in their backyards since 2007, as part of the New Zealand Garden Bird Survey.

Manaaki Whenua researchers have condensed this large information base into simple but powerful metrics – providing insights into how garden bird counts have changed from local to national scales.

This year’s report shows counts of one of our most common native garden birds, the silvereye (tauhou), also known as “waxeye”, is still declining. Counts have almost halved in gardens since the survey began, which researchers say could be a warning sign something is changing for the species.

“The silvereye has declined by 43% nationally,” says NZ Garden Bird Survey founder and Manaaki Whenua Research Associate, Dr Eric Spurr.

“Rapid declines in this species’ counts were detected in Southland, Otago, West Coast, Nelson, Wellington, and Gisborne regions.”

“We don’t yet fully understand what is driving these changes but increasingly warmer winters may mean silvereyes are less likely to come into gardens in search of food. They come more in cold winters when there’s snow on the hills,” he says. On the other hand, a cautiously positive picture is emerging for tūī, which could be the result of improved predator control in urban and rural landscapes.

“Among native species, tūī – and possibly kererū – counts have shown a shallow increase over the 11 years, while fantail and bellbird have remained at relatively similar levels,” says Dr Spurr.

Of the introduced species, only the greenfinch has increased (almost doubled) in counts since 2007.

Six of the most common species in our gardens (blackbird, dunnock, chaffinch, goldfinch, song thrush, and starling) have experienced shallow to moderate declines (10–31% over 11 years).

“It might be tempting to dismiss these declines as unimportant because these species were all introduced to New Zealand from Europe. However, these birds are signaling change in our urban and rural environments that we need to better understand,” says Dr MacLeod.

Dr MacLeod says without the New Zealand Garden Bird Survey, and the thousands of volunteers who have participated in it, these changes would have gone undocumented.

This year’s survey is taking place between 30 June and 8 July.

© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On The Brexit & Huawei Clusterfudges

Come December 2019, the West’s social democracies could be gone through quite a few changes at the top.

British PM Theresa May might not even make it through to the New Year. In a year’s time Angela Merkel’s shaky coalition will have probably collapsed, and another German election will have been fought by the newly chosen leader of Merkel’s party... More>>


Joint Select Committee Report: Achieving Smokefree 2025

In a historic first for select committees, the Māori Affairs Committee and the Health Committee presented their joint report on achieving the Smokefree 2025 goal to the House on Tuesday, 11 December 2018. More>>

"Shared Interests And Democratic Values": Peters To Visit USA

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters will travel to Washington D.C. for talks with US Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo and other senior members of the US Administration. More>>

Science Advisors: Stopping Family Violence – The Evidence

A new report “Every 4 minutes: A discussion paper on preventing family violence in New Zealand” by Justice sector Chief Science Advisor, Dr Ian Lambie, discusses the evidence and asks us, as a community, to get involved. More>>


Misuse Of Drugs Act: Medicinal Cannabis Legislation Passes

“Ultimately, this legislation will greatly increase availability of quality medicinal cannabis products, and will allow for their domestic manufacture. It will help people ease their suffering by making a wider range of quality medicinal cannabis products available over time." More>>


Conflicts, Inadequacies: IPCA Finds Police Investigation Flawed

The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that a Police investigation into inappropriate contact between a teacher and a student in Gisborne in 2014 was deficient in several respects. More>>


PM's Press Conference Multimedia: Grace Millane, ACC Levy Hold, Absent Execs

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern began her Monday post-cabinet press conference with an emotional comment on the murder of English backpacker Grace Millane. More>>


Child Poverty Monitor: Food Poverty Due To Inadequate Income, Housing Cost

The latest Child Poverty Monitor released today by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner reveals alarming facts about children suffering the impacts of family income inadequacy, says Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG). More>>





InfoPages News Channels