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 past ten years, i.e. since 2012, 41% of 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 contrasting results of ten years of monitoring garden birds, presented on Tuesday January 24 by the League for the Protection of Birds (LPO) and the National Museum of Natural History (MNHN). A report that confirms the strong decline of common birds, but also testifies to the great success of the participatory science program at the origin of these data.

“There is a very strong increase in the presence of birds in winter, especially migratory species, but it is in spring, at the time of nesting, that we count the birds of France. And there, it’s a hecatomb, underlined Allain Bougrain-Dubourg, the president of the LPO. We have succeeded in saving emblematic species such as white storks, peregrine falcons or griffon vultures in recent decades. To save local birds, it is our lifestyles that must be changed. »

Rigorous protocol

Each year, during the last weekends of January and May, everyone is invited to identify, for an hour, the birds that land in the chosen garden, then to transmit their observations. “You can participate everywhere, in town, in the countryside or in a public park, and it’s even open to novices, describes Marjorie Poitevin, head of the Garden Bird Observatory as well as participatory science at the LPO. At first, people doubt their abilities, but they quickly get caught up in the game. Files posted online help to recognize 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 numerous, after a peak of participation at 40,000 people in 2020, the year of confinement linked to the Covid-19 pandemic. In total, censuses were carried out in nearly 100,000 gardens across France, which made it possible to collect around 6.5 million data. Since these observations were subject to a rigorous protocol, they could be analyzed scientifically.

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