Bird counting gets confused due to the weather
Created: 01/11/2023 11:58 am
Information material on the "Hour of the Winter Birds" at a bird count.
© Sebastian Willnow/dpa/archive image
Sparrow, tit or blackbird - which birds can be seen at the bird feeder?
This is what nature conservation organizations want to know year after year and rely on bird fans.
This time, however, the warm weather threw a spanner in the works for their hands-on campaign.
Stuttgart - Sometimes sun, sometimes rain, but not a trace of snow or frost far and wide: the mild, dreary weather at the beginning of the year upsets the habits of birds just as much as the traditional counting at the bird feeders in gardens and parks.
According to preliminary figures from the German Nature Conservation Union (Nabu), significantly fewer bird lovers took part in the "Hour of the Winter Birds" in Baden-Württemberg this year, and the number of birds discovered fell accordingly.
"So far, almost 7,400 active people have grabbed a pen, cell phone and binoculars," said Nabu on Wednesday in an interim report on its already completed hands-on campaign.
Almost 172,000 birds were noted in around 5,400 gardens - that's about 43 percent of the birds and 46 percent of the participants compared to the same period in 2022. The number of birds per garden has also fallen by 2 to 32. Two years ago, in the Corona year 2021, the final balance of the campaign was almost 37.
“This year has been more of a rainbird hour.
Apparently, the wet and cool weather only invited a few to count birds," said the Nabu ornithologist Stefan Bosch in Stuttgart.
Every year, the State Association for Bird and Nature Conservation (LBV) in Hilpoltstein, Bavaria, and Nabu call for what they claim to be the largest scientific hands-on campaign in Germany.
According to the interim report, they sighted the house sparrow, great tit and blue tit again most frequently.
However, the number of blackbird sightings has fallen by almost a quarter (23 percent) because the species is suffering from the tropical Usutu virus.
What is surprising, however, is that because of the past few mild weeks, the normal winter visitors from Northern and Eastern Europe, such as the polka dot, fieldfare and brambling, are largely absent from the south-west.
"Presumably, because of the mild winter, they stayed in their breeding grounds or didn't flee that far to the southwest before winter," said Bosch.
Forest bird species such as chaffinch, great spotted woodpecker, jay or nuthatch were also spotted less frequently.
One possible reason: last year was a fattening year, so there is an abundance of acorns, spruce seeds and beechnuts.
"The birds have so much food in the forest that they come less to our settlements," said the Nabu.
With the "Hour of the Winter Birds", the nature conservation associations are not concerned with a complete recording of all birds.
Rather, the campaign is intended to provide important insights into changes in the native bird life in the towns and villages.
For this purpose, the data is compared over several years.
According to Nabu, the observations show, for example, that more and more migratory birds are staying in Germany even in winter.
Anyone who wanted to take part this year could count the birds in the garden, on the balcony, in front of the window or in the park for one hour from January 6th to 8th and report them via the internet, app, telephone or post.
According to Nabu, results can be reported up to and including January 15.