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How about counting the birds in the garden?

Do you know how to recognize a robin, a great tit, a sparrow? More difficult: would you recognize a European greenfinch, a European starling?

This week-end, on Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 January, a national operation counting birds in winter will exercise your eye.

Note the place, time and date

Participation is free. You can count the birds in your garden, in the park next to your home, or those in a corner of nature. “The main thing is to note the time, the precise place and the date when the counting takes place”, specifies Sébastien Brunet, biodiversity project manager at Nature 18.

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There are several objectives for this count, in which the Cher has been participating for ten years. “The idea is to provide a photograph of the number of birds in winter,” continues Sébastien Brunet. Depending on whether the winter is cold or mild, we do not find the same species. If the winter is harsh, we observe migratory birds from northern Europe such as the northern chaffinch or the grosbeak. Which seems to be the case this year. »

The birds in the garden “are also a gateway for people to take an interest in biodiversity, he acknowledges. Because we protect better what we know “.

In 2021, 6,315 birds were counted in the Cher

All the data collected in two days is analyzed at the national level, in order to map the distribution of species and the number of individuals. Over the years, this count gives a fairly accurate picture of the forces involved.

“Last year, the great tit, robin and European goldfinch populations were doing well,” says Sébastien Brunet. Although in terms of individuals, the house sparrow came out on top. »

In 2021, 126 people took part in this count in the Cher, in 94 different municipalities spread throughout the department. Some 6,315 birds were counted, of 47 different species. In 2020, on the eve of confinement, Nature 18 had 169 participants, “a record”.

Pay attention to feeding

In winter, if in addition to counting the birds, you want to feed them, the greatest caution is required. “Feeders and drinkers need to be cleaned regularly to prevent the proliferation of bacteria and viruses,” emphasizes Sébastien Brunet. At the slightest sign of mortality, we stop feeding for at least a week. »

Sunflower seeds are ideal. “We avoid mixing seeds, because we can then end up with a proliferation of ragweed in the garden, warns Sébastien Brunet. If we choose balls of fat, we take them without a net, to prevent the birds from hurting themselves. »

Marie-Claire Raymond

Practice. To participate, several possibilities: if you are comfortable with computers, there is the database fauna-cher.org; you can also register on birdsdesjardins.fr, a general public site where there are drawings to recognize birds, just tick; you can make a statement on paper and send it by email or post to Nature 18, 16 rue Henri-Moissan, 18000 Bourges. Information on 02.48.70.76.26.

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