In Belgium during the weekend of January 29-30, 2022, thousands of people across the country 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). 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 to count garden birds
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 this weekend. 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; half 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 greenfinches 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.
Use the Dutch form below to help you identify the birds in Dutch and fill in your observations. You then submit them online here.
Use the form below to see what the birds are called in French, then submit your sightings here.
In bilingual Brussels, just choose the language that suits you best.
If you want some advice on how to attract birds to your garden, check out my post on feeding garden birds.
Count garden birds anywhere in the world!
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 28-30, 2022
- France: January 29-30, 2022
- The Netherlands: January 28-30, 2022
- Ireland: Between December and February, 2022
- USA: February 18-21, 2022
- Australia: October 17-23, 2022
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.
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.
Nature projects for children
Did you know that there’s a whole range of nature projects on this website? Some are ideal for children and grandchildren. Here are a few examples:
- How to make a wildlife garden
- How to identify garden butterflies
- How to make a hedgehog feeding station
- How to identify berries on an autumn country walk
- How to identify farm crops on a country walk
- How to make a bee hotel
- How to make a country walk fun for children
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