First ever public bird census in Czech Republic now underway

Blackbird, photo: Bernd Marczak, Pixabay / CC0

The first ever public bird census got underway in the Czech Republic on Friday. Over the course of the next three days, people can observe bird flocking on the feeders in their gardens or parks, identify the species and send the findings to the Czech Ornithological Society’s website. The purpose of the event is to discover more about the development of the country’s common birds.

Great tit,  photo: Wim De Graaf,  Pixabay / CC0

Dita Hořáková,  photo: Czech Ornithological Society
I asked ornithologist Dita Hořáková, who is in charge of the project, to tell me more about it:

“This is the first year of the counting in our country. We cooperate with our Bavarian colleagues who have already started their 13th bird census.

“We want to get a large amount of data in cooperation with the public and also to enjoy it. And we really want to invite everyone to take part, because it is really easy.”

What is the purpose of the survey?

“The idea was based on that we have little information about over-wintering bird and their behaviour and we would like to know more. Also there was a high demand from the public for some winter ornithological activities.”

How exactly does the bird survey look like? And who can participate? Do I have to be an expert in bird species in order to take part?

“It is designed for everyone from the general public, even for kids. You don’t need any special knowledge of birds. Just spend one hour at your feeder and observe and note the species you see.

“You can find illustrations of all the species on our website. So even if you don’t know any bird, you can participate. After counting the birds, please send the data on our website until January 15. So don’t hesitate to try it, it’s really easy.

How many people have signed up so far?

“We have more than 290 people registered and hope that the number will still grow.”

What are the most common garden birds here in the Czech Republic that are staying in the country over winter?

House sparrows,  photo: J. M. Garg,  CC 3.0
“To answer this question, we can already use the first data from our counting. At the moment, the winner is house sparrow. But it can still change.

“It also depends on where you live. In the city, you are likely to observe great tits, blue tits, blackbirds and house sparrows. If you live by a forest, you can come across the robin or species that are common in the woods.”

Do you expect to see any significant decline in the number of certain bird species?

“We cannot answer this question yet. That is why we are organizing this census. Without proper data, it is very difficult to say if a species is declining or increasing.

Blackbird,  photo: Bernd Marczak,  Pixabay / CC0
“Also, bird populations tend to fluctuate naturally, so even though we observe blackbirds, it doesn’t necessarily mean that their numbers are increasing. Only proper statistics will tell us if our observations go beyond the usual limits. So we will probably know more after this weekend.”