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It’s the Five-Minute Countdown (of birds)

It’s the Five-Minute Countdown (of birds)

The Conservation team have been carrying out their biannual Five-Minute Bird Counts (5MBC) recently, in which they count all birds seen or heard within 200 meters of various stations around the valley over a five-minute period. 

5MBCs only share how a population may be doing in general – not the actual number of birds. However, Zealandia has access to historic 5MBC data from the Ornithological Society of New Zealand (OSNZ), which gives us trend information since 1995. We use the counts to get an indication of population trends so that if a species is declining, we can detect that and take further action. This method obviously doesn’t work for all species (e.g. kiwi) but it’s still a great tool!

Interestingly, studies have found that that while most native New Zealand bird species tend to sing all year round, many introduced species tend to sing substantially more during breeding season and very little during winter. This likely reflects their habits in Europe where they would have to cope with harsher winters, even moving away from breeding areas to obtain food.

Want to do your own survey at home? The NZ Garden Bird Survey is happening from 29 June - 7 July and involves getting people from across the country to take one hour to record the manu that they can see and hear in their backyard. You can find out more about how to participate at the NZ Garden Bird website. This survey is great, as it can show trends of bird diversity across the whole country – plus in Wellington, we have heaps of manu showing up in backyards that you won’t see in other cities thanks to Zealandia and our community!

Photo by Rory Wilsher.

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