Take part in a garden bird survey: not just in Belgium but in any country in the world!
During the next two weekends in 2020 – January 25-26 in Flanders and February 1-2 in Wallonia – thousands of people across Belgium will be taking part in the annual census of garden birds. It’s organised by the Belgian nature conservation societies Natuurpunt (Flemish) and Natagora (French), and the statistics gathered give a useful picture of the current status of garden birds in Belgium. For example, the information can help ecologists spot a declining species, and take the first steps to aid recovery.
Get the kids involved!
If you want to take part, it’s simple; and it’s particularly fun for children. Simply record the highest number of each bird species seen during one of these weekends. It can be in your garden or on your balcony, and either on the Saturday or Sunday, or both. You don’t have to spend all weekend staring out of your window; an hour is sufficient. The morning is the best time to look, when the birds are out and about, feeding after a cold winter’s night. But remember – you should note the maximum number you see at any one time. So if for example you see 5 chaffinches at nine o’clock on Saturday and 7 at ten o’clock, you don’t write down 12, but 7.
If you are not sure how to tell a blue tit from a great tit, or a house sparrow from a tree sparrow (or what they are called in Dutch or French), don’t worry, just use the forms that I mention below which have colour photographs of the birds you are most likely to see.
Belgium being Belgium, for some reason the two nature organizations haven’t been able to agree on a common website to submit your observations – nor even agree on the same weekend!
In Flanders the census is taking place January 25-26 2020
Use the Dutch form below to help you identify the birds in Dutch and fill in your observations. You then submit them online here.
In Wallonia the census is taking place February 2-3, 2020
Use the form below to see what the birds are called in French, then submit your sightings here.
I have no idea what you are going to do in bilingual Brussels! If I were you, I’d choose the weekend and/or the language that suits you best. Or count the birds on both weekends and submit them in French and Dutch! As I say, it’s such a shame that the census couldn’t be better coordinated so that we end up with one set of results for one weekend across the country.
Anyway, don’t let that put you off and/or your children enjoying yourself spotting and counting the birds in your garden.
And if you want some advice on how to attract birds to your garden, check out my post on feeding garden birds.
Not just in Belgium!
Bird censuses are taking place in other parts of the world, so wherever you live, you and/or your children could take part in one. As my readers are global, here are some examples of garden bird surveys:
- UK: January 25-27, 2020
- France: January 25-26, 2020
- The Netherlands: January 24-26, 2020
- Ireland: Between December and February, 2020
- USA: February 14-17, 2020
- Australia: October 19-25, 2020
Feel free to add your own country’s survey dates in the comments below or send me a message and I will add them to the list.
Anywhere in the world!
If your country does not seem to organize a specific national garden bird survey, don’t despair. You can still count your garden birds, wherever you live, in any country of the world, and submit them to a great global initiative called eBird.