This is a fact now established: there are fewer birds in our gardens. The national Museum of natural history, which conducts regular counts, in particular through the program “Birds of the gardens”, involving more than 30,000 individuals, which assesses the decline in the numbers of 10% for all species during the last decade.
To enrich these data and take into account the latest developments, a new operation of counting is organised on Saturday and Sunday for the 7th consecutive year across France. The lover of the gent winged are invited to participate (by clicking here) they have a garden or not, to the extent that it is possible to perform the operation in a park or a public garden, or collective.
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The causes of this disturbing phenomenon are multiple. In addition to the plant protection products regularly challenged, the increase in the allotment, changes in agricultural practices, removal of hedgerows and fallow land but also the destruction of many natural habitats as a result of urbanisation (housing estates, commercial zones, roads…), play a role at least as much, if not more important. Granivorous species are the most impacted: moineau friquet (not to be confused with the house sparrow common in towns and cities), linnet, European greenfinch, goldfinch, bunting yellow, to mention only these (see their photo in the slide show), recorded the largest declines due to the degradation of their natural habitat and the decrease in their pantry. Namely, the seeds of wild herbs that make up the bulk of their diet.
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Bullfinch peony ( Pyrrhula pyrrhula ) male. Jean-Jacques Boujot under CC license
An example among others: in the past few years, the farmers have the obligation to de-thatch their plots before winter to sow a green manure which prevent the nitrates migrate to groundwater. “Suddenly, seeds of cereals, oilseed rape and weeds that were previously in the surface are now buried in the ground, so that the birds are quickly deprived of food,” says the ornithologist Frédéric Jiguet, professor at the Museum who finds a clear decline of populations of goldfinches and greenfinches since the implementation of this measure, decreed by Europe.
A study published in the scientific journal Biological Conservation comes from elsewhere to show that granivorous species attend to the feeders placed at their disposal in the winter as the agriculture around them is intensive. “As they find less and less seeds in farm plots, these birds come into gardens in search of food substitution, as the winter progresses,” explains Frédéric Jiguet, co-signer of this study with her colleague Pauline Pierret, which emphasizes, in the passage, “the important role of feeding in winter for the birds”.
Halting the decline of the gent winged
Do you ask so more the question: in addition to the pleasure that it brings, installing bird feeders in his garden between mid-November and mid-march contributes well to halt the decline of the gent with wings. Is it necessary to do above and beyond, during the breeding period? “At this stage, the question is not clear,” continues Frédéric Jiguet. On the one hand, increases the number of litters, which is positive, but on the other, the viability of chicks subjected to this diet granivore likely to be less good. Studies are programmed to see things more clearly. In the meantime, it is better to stop the feeding during the period in which the parents are raising the little leaves to resume thereafter.”
Since this summer, the blackbird is the victim of a deadly parasite: the virus isutu. 63859815/YK – Fotolia
Other problems: diseases. The European greenfinch is a victim of an outbreak of salmonellosis, a bacterial disease vectored by the droppings. Where, by the way, the importance of regularly cleaning the feeders to prevent contamination. Even more surprising: since this summer several species of birds, especially blackbirds, are decimated by the virus isutu, a parasite transmitted by a mosquito. “Counting this weekend we will accurately assess the impact of this emerging disease on the population,” continues Frédéric Jiguet.
beware of cats!
To have the best chance to see birds in his garden, it is obviously recommended, as has been seen, to feed them with suitable foods and install nest boxes. The shielding of the cat with a number of devices recommended by the LPO: substances and repulsive plants ( Coleus canina ), grids, plastic, bristling with spikes placed on the branches or trunk of trees, ultrasonic device, etc, be Aware that on a global scale, the predation of these small felids is estimated to be 4 billion birds are killed each year. The proliferation of crows and magpies, which are large consumers of eggs and nestlings, is also pointing the finger.
Finally, in addition to the feeding, you should know to make your garden welcoming, leaving a place wild flowers, creating a point of water, planting of trees or shrubs with berries, etc birds, but also hedgehogs, frogs or shrews will be a hundredfold in getting rid of aphids, caterpillars, slugs, and other pests.
Your events “garden” to do (mostly) not to be missed
• 26-27 January: feast of plants “Mimosalia”, on the theme of the”intelligence tree”, medieval village, Bormes-les-Mimosas (Var)
• 9 to 17 February: exhibition and sale of orchids, Vacherot & Lecoufle, floral Park of la Source, Orléans (Loiret).
• 14 February to 11 march: 7th exhibition “a Thousand and one orchids’, a large greenhouse of the Jardin des Plantes, Paris.
• 16 February: Conference “Gardening au natural: solutions exist”, espace Jean Vautrin, Bègles (Gironde).
• Until 28 February: exhibition “winter Gardens”, the Domain of Chaumont-sur-Loire (Loir-et-Cher).
• 28 February-3 march: Exhibitions “Pool & garden” and “My house, my desires”, Parc Chanot, Marseille (Bouches-du-Rhône).
• 2 to 4 march: 560e frequently asked trees and plants, Lisieux (Calvados).
• 14 march: Symposium “Boxwood, issues, renewal and renaissance gardens”, the conference centre, Orléans (Loiret).
• 29, 30 and 31 march: international Competition of floral art, “Elegance floral”, salle Claude Nougaro, Revel (Haute-Garonne).