At the "Hour of the Winter Birds" 2023, significantly fewer birds were sighted than usual this year. The German Nature Conservation Union (Nabu) announced on Wednesday that 2.3 million birds had appeared in the garden, in the park, in front of the balcony or in front of the window as a result of its counting campaign at the beginning of January. As in previous years, the house sparrow, the great tit and the blue tit took the first three places, followed by blackbirds, tree sparrows, magpies and chaffinches.
On average, the volunteers sighted 33.4 birds per counting point between January 6th and 8th. In 2022 it was still an average of 35.5 pieces. "The rather mild winter so far has ensured that typical winter guests from Northern and Eastern Europe, such as the brambling, have probably stayed in their breeding areas and have saved themselves the energy-sapping train," said Nabu Federal Managing Director Leif Miller. In addition, fewer birds came to the feeding stations than in the previous year, as they are currently finding enough food in nature.
Jays rarer than ever
With an average of 0.35 specimens per garden, the jay was sighted more rarely than ever before. In the past there was an average of 0.56 jays per garden. The Nabu suspects the past mast year of the trees as the reason. "Due to the large abundance of tree fruit, the birds are more likely to stay in the forest and are less likely to come to the settlements," Miller explained. The same applies to other forest birds such as chaffinch, great spotted woodpecker and hawfinch.
"First of all, it's not a problem if there are fewer birds coming into the gardens," Miller reported. However, there are mast years at ever shorter intervals, presumably due to the climate crisis. "This can wear down the trees and in the long run also become a problem for our bird populations."
Not only the birds were fewer this year, but also the voluntary observers: around 99,000 people took part in 2023, in 2022 there were more than 176,000. Often several people count together at one point.
The Nabu had already presented the first incomplete results of the counting campaign on January 11th. From May 12th to 14th there will be the "Hour of the Garden Birds".
Press release Hour of the winter birds