29/11/2010
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Irish Garden Bird Survey

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BirdWatch Ireland's Garden Bird Survey begins today, and needs the support of as many members of the public as possible. From today [29th November], and for a period of 13 weeks, we are asking people to tell us about the numbers of birds visiting their gardens. The information that we receive helps us to keep track of the fortunes of Ireland's most familiar and best-loved birds.

House Sparrow
House Sparrow, Youghal, Cork (Photo: Tom Kennedy)

Now entering its 17th season, the Garden Bird Survey is Ireland's most popular annual wildlife count. Niall Hatch, BirdWatch Ireland Development Officer, said: "This is a simple and highly enjoyable way for anyone with birds around their home to contribute in a very real sense to science and conservation efforts. Given the very harsh conditions our garden birds had to endure last winter, this winter's survey is perhaps the most important yet. Many of our smallest birds, such as Wrens and Goldcrests, struggled to survive, and we need to know if their numbers have returned to normal or if they remain in trouble. We can't do this unless the public let us know how the birds are doing in their own gardens."

Olivia Crowe, BirdWatch Ireland's Garden Bird Survey Co-ordinator, added: "We are expecting over 1,000 people to participate this winter, and we are pleased to provide our survey participants with the opportunity to enter their records online, making contributing your sightings easier than ever. To take part, simply visit www.birdwatchireland.ie, click 'Online Surveys' and register your details. You'll just need to tell us a bit about your garden and the types of bird food, if any, you are providing. Then it gets even easier — all you need to do is record the highest number of each species you see in your garden in each week. Many people simply do this from their kitchen windows. Of course, we still welcome records sent via paper forms too." These forms can be downloaded in PDF format from the BirdWatch Ireland website and participants can also call 01–2819878 to request a garden bird pack to be sent out by post.

Starling
Starling, Youghal, Cork (Photo: Tom Kennedy)

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Oran O'Sullivan, garden bird expert and BirdWatch Ireland Chief Operating Officer, said: "The popularity of the Garden Bird Survey has grown massively in recent years. Records received from the public have indicated to us that garden birds in Ireland have been faring well since the survey began in 1994/95. We have watched Robin, Blackbird, Blue Tit and Chaffinch fight for top spot on the ladder of most widespread birds, and have also seen enormous growth in the number of gardens supporting Collared Doves, Goldfinches and Bullfinches. The observations have alerted us to many significant trends over the years, and we hope that as many people as possible across Ireland will participate."

Song Thrush
Song Thrush and House Sparrows, Youghal, Cork (Photo: Tom Kennedy)

Full details of the survey are available at www.birdwatchireland.ie and a set of downloadable factsheets on feeding and caring for your garden birds is also available online.

Written by: BirdWatch Ireland