Cool for Kids

Count garden birds: wherever you are in the world!

Take part in a garden bird survey: not just in Belgium but in any country in the world!

During the next two weekends – January 26-27 and February 2-3, 2019 – 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 26-27

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

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:

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, you can still take part in one. During the weekend of February 15-18, 2019 you can count your garden birds wherever you live, in any country of the world, and submit them here. So there’s no excuse!

Categories: Cool for Kids, Miscellenea

23 replies »

  1. Thanks for the heads up, Denzil. We just happen to be in San Diego that weekend and should see a lot of birds. Since my husband is for the birds (literally and figuratively), it would be a great assignment for him. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is such a fun and useful event to participate in. I wish I could do this (Southern California) but we live in an artificially fabricated eucalyptus woods and the birds hate it. The only feathered friends for decades were crows – noisy and messy. Now we do get peregrine falcons but I’m lucky to spot the pair a couple of times over the season. Sometimes a hummingbird flits by but for the most part, this faux bois doesn’t provide an avian enriching environment – all the more reason for those who live in areas that do to enjoy the count.

    As for the competing counting corporations – their system is for the birds. They ought to get their act together.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Never heard of a eucalyptus wood Sharon. Shame it’s pretty dead.
      A lot of things are double here, due to the language division. So there will be a French and Dutch version of pretty much identical organisations or services. I guess it keeps more people in work.

      Like

    • Amen, Sharon – Denzil, I’ve got birds in my back yard, not a huge diversity, but last week for a few mornings there was a lot of early morning clamoring by a flock of parrots 🙂

      Like

  3. Thanks for bringing this to our attention, Denzil. I was unaware of such a census and I’m pleased to see that the USA also participates. We have three hummingbirds and about six small brown-feathered birds. I’ll have to find out their name.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Denzil, many thanks for mentioning this as I usually read about the event afterwards. I used to think you had to spend the whole weekend bird-watching but from your book realise it’s just an hour and as the RSB website says ‘Make sure it’s comfy and you have the essentials within easy reach – a nice, hot drink and your favourite biscuits – and somewhere to jot down what you see.’ Fun and easy … I hope.
    Look forward to taking part … reckon I’ll get stressed when there are many birds around the feeders!

    Liked by 1 person

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