• Valley Project

Beholding Backyard Birds

Updated: Jun 5

Take part in the New Zealand Garden Bird Survey!!

26 June to 4 July


Kererū (Woodpigeon, Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae). Photo: Jess Corbett.

It’s coming up to a time of year that I love, when I wrap up warm and find a nice possie in my backyard to sit for an hour just watching and counting which birds come and visit. I also find it’s a great time to reflect on all of the other wonderful things about my backyard – the harakeke (flax) that when flowering attracts tūī and korimako (bellbirds) and the koromiko (hebe), which often has tauhou (silvereyes) and insects bouncing around it; or the vege patch that my flatmate has grown to harvest from.


The NZ Garden Bird Survey is an annual Citizen Science study led by Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research, which aims to learn about the different birds within urban and garden environments. This study is incredibly important to enable us and researchers to find out if all of the mahi that we put into planting, weeding and trapping is having a positive impact on the environment. Healthy populations of birds are a really good indicator that the environment is healthy too!


Tūī (Tui, Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae). Photo: Jordyn Ashcroft.

Although there can be a bit of a chill in the air, winter is a good time for the survey, as this is often the time when birds spend more time in backyards looking for food and shelter, so you’re more likely to spot them!

Tahu Mackenzie, Ella and Jacob Loveridge with the Pekapeka bird feeder. Photo: Jess Covell.

If you're thinking about feeding birds, winter is a really good time to start too. Some of the best foods to feed birds at this time of year include sugar water and fat balls.


A great bird feeder is the PekaPeka bird feeder. The PekaPeka bird feeder includes a sugar water bottle, platform and truffle feeder to allow easy access for birds to the foods that they love! Sugar water is a great supplementary food for nectar feeding birds such as tūī and korimako as sugar water is similar to nectar made by plants. Fat balls will attract the more omnivorous species such as tauhou (silvereyes) and house sparrows.


If you're interested in grabbing a Pekapeka bird feeder - we have them available at the Valley Project. Be mindful of where you place your bird feeder in your backyard - check out our previous blog post into Preventing Window Strike as to why and where a preferred spot might be.


If you’re keen to take part in the NZ Garden Bird Survey, choose any one day between 26 June and 4 July, find a nice spot in your backyard (or local school grounds or park) for an hour and count the birds. Encourage your family and friends to take part too – more information means we have a better understanding of the whole picture! Feel free to come down to the Valley Project to pick up a tally sheet or check out www.gardenbirdsurvey.landcareresearch.co.nz.


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