In French gardens, almost half of the bird species seen in spring are in decline

Fewer and fewer blackbirds, blue tits or European bullfinches in May, and more and more ring-necked parakeets, jackdaws or wood pigeons in January. Over the last ten years, i.e. since 2012, 41% of the bird species observed in French gardens in spring have seen their numbers decrease, while half of them have seen their populations increase in winter.

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These are the conflicting results of ten years of monitoring garden birds, which were presented on Tuesday 24 January by the Bird Protection Association (LPO) and the Norwegian Natural History Museum (MNHN). A report that confirms the sharp decline of common birds, but also testifies to the great success of the participatory science program that underpins this data.

“There is a very strong increase in the presence of birds in the winter, especially migratory birds, but it is in the spring, at the time of nesting, that we count the birds of France. And there it is a hecatomb, emphasized Allain Bougrain-Dubourg, the president of the LPO. Emblematic species such as the white stork, peregrine falcon or vulture have been saved in recent decades. To save local birds, it is our way of life that must change. »

Strict protocol

Every year, during the last weekends of January and May, everyone is invited to spend an hour identifying the birds that land in the chosen garden and then send in their observations. “You can participate anywhere, in the city, in the country or in a public park, and it’s even open to beginners, describes Marjorie Poitevin, head of the Garden Bird Observatory and Participatory Science at the LPO. At first people doubt their abilities, but they quickly get caught up in the game. Files posted online help identify the fifty most common birds.

The common swift and European greenfinch have seen their numbers in gardens drop by 46% in ten years

In 2012, 3,000 people mobilized for the first edition. Ten years later, they are ten times more, after a peak participation of 40,000 people in 2020, the year of confinement linked to the Covid-19 pandemic. In total, counts were carried out in almost 100,000 gardens across France, making it possible to collect around 6.5 million pieces of data. Since these observations were subject to a strict protocol, they could be analyzed scientifically.

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