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Latest news
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Friday, November 15th, 2019

In winter, feeding the birds that visit our gardens, balconies and terraces is a good way to help them to overcome the coldest months of the year, which are the more energetically demanding as well.

In several countries: the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, about half of the households keep active feeders and, only in the UK, the amount of food destined for this activity is believed to be enough to feed 196 million birds. Given these figures, it is not difficult to imagine that its ecological impact on bird populations is huge, both positive and negative.

Researchers from the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) have discovered, from the data obtained through garden monitoring projects, that the diversity of birds that visit these gardens has tripled in the last 40 years, for example. On the other hand, some species, such as Blackcap or Anna's hummingbird, have modified their migratory strategies by becoming regular wintering birds in the UK and Canada, respectively.

So far we have exposed the positive effects of the proliferation of feeders in the gardens of some countries, but what about the negatives? In the aforementioned study it has also been seen that feeders are a perfect tool for disease transmission. Moreover, it is known that the decline of the Common greenfinch population in the United Kingdom between 2006 and 2016 - when it plummeted from 4.3 to 1.5 million birds - was directly related to this fact.

In conclusion, feeders in winter yes, but as clean as can be!

Picture: Xavier Riera

posted by Xavier Riera
Friday, October 18th, 2019

We are on the verge of the project’s wintering season. Some of the commonest species to visit our gardens or feeders, in winter, multiply dramatically their populations due to the arrival of birds from Centre and Nord Europe. Most of these species are rather conspicuous and the identification is quite straight forward but for some of them it could be a bit more challenging.

Here you are several of these species and, by the way, their voices. We strongly recommend you to learn by heart their typical wintering calls in order to spot them easily in your backyard.

Let’s prick up our ears!!



Dunnok (Prunella modularis)

Robin (Erithacus rubecula)

Song thrush (Turdus philomelos)

Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla)

Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)

Nuthatch (SItta europaea)

Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)

Siskin (Carduelis spinus)


Pictures: Jaume Ventura, J Gabriel Gallart, Xavier Riera, Eduard Comorera, Cesc Herrero, Pancho Pou, Matilde Londner, Josep Bel

posted by Xavier Riera
Friday, July 1st, 2016

Until June of this year we have had 11760 contributions done in the web of the project, so first of all we have to say: thank you! Some of you contribute counting birds of your private gardens, but did you know that you can also report observations of public parks, terraces and balconies?

To select a public park of any city or village and go counting birds is a magnificent activity to do with the family. We ask you to count at least twice a year (the last weekends of January and May), so you can schedule your journeys the way you prefer: when the kids go out of school, the weekends...

Adults and children can learn a lot thanks to this project, because of the proximity that provide the birds that are in gardens and parks and the ease that bring you our web with the drawings of the most frequent species. We encourage you to make diffusion of the project to friends and acquaintance that want get introduced to the birding world or just want to learn a little more of their entourage. 

posted by Abel Julien
Wednesday, May 25th, 2016
REMINDER: Spring Census 2016

Next weekend, May 28 and 29, the OdJ Spring Census 2016 is taking place.

We ask you to count birds sometime during the weekend for an amount of time of your choice but preferably longer than half an hour. As veteran participants already know this is the moment in which all participants count birds at the same time, thus allowing us to get a snapshot of Catalan gardens in a particular moment.

We look forward to your data!

posted by Abel Julien
Monday, March 21st, 2016
Overflying birds: don't count

OdJ gives us a good measure of the birds that use the gardens of our country. One of its goals is to relate the different types of gardens with the bird species that inhabit them, as a result of this and for other reasons related to how we work data, we remind OdJ users that birds overflying the garden or that pass nearby without using it must NOT be recorded. Putting it graphically, in OdJ we must record birds that "touch" our garden.

Overflying birds, whether they are a raptor or a stork in migration, swallows or swifts, must not be recorded if they are flying over. Instead, if we have a Swallow's nest in a cottage or House Martin's nests in the balconies, it is indeed important to record them. We ask all participants to keep in mind these criteria, as specified in the instructions of the project.

Remember also that once we have defined what we consider our garden as our study area, we have to input birds that we see inside there only; we mustn't record birds that we see in our neighbour's garden or nearby.

Thank you for your cooperation

posted by Abel Julien
Thursday, February 25th, 2016
About the results of the Winter Census 2016

A series of just two years is too short to make any comparative analysis but it is is interesting or at least eye catching to do the exercise of watching what birds have been reported in more or less frequency from one year to the next.

If we take into account what birds change their relative frequency in gardens, that is, not the totals but in how many censused gardens they appear, we see some species that show differences in the two years.

Less detected in 2016 than in 2015 (downwards trend)

Pied Wagtail            -7%
Black Redstart       -15,4%
Blackbird                -8,6%
Blackcap                -15,2%

More detected in 2016 than in 2015 (upwards trend)

Blue Tit                  +9,1%
Collared Dove        +10,3%
Magpie                   +12,5%
Serin                      +6,8%
Greenfinch              +3,5%

Was it like this in your garden? Have you seen less Black Redstarts o Blackcaps? Have you seen more Blue Tits or Magpies? Check out if the general trends match those that you have observed locally in your garden. This will probably be like this in wintering birds that have been affected by this mild winter we have had most of the time in Catalonia.

The Blackcap, a bird that has showed up much less in the Winter Census 2016 (Photo: Jordi Bas)

posted by Abel Julien
Thursday, February 4th, 2016
48% increase in participants of the 2016 Winter Census

Last week-end was that of the 2016 Winter Census of Ocells dels Jardins with 74 participants, 48% more than those of 2015. It is then an increase that shows the growing interest in the project.

Taking the data of the whole week, since some schools did the census during the working week, a total of 1.405 bird observations were made and a total of 6.336 individual birds were counted. The number of species reached 65 and that of censused gardens was 90. The following table shows these data in comparison with the same period in 2015.

                                 2015          2016         % increase
Observations             1.144         1.405         22,8
Birds censused          5.632         6.336         12,5
Species                         45             65          44,4
Participants                    50             74          48
Gardens                        62             90          45,2
Censuses                     159           180          13,2
Municipalities                  39            53          35,9
Comarcas                      21            23            9,5

All figures show an increase that will allow us to better know the state of urban birds in our country. However, the territorial distribution was irregular, as can be seen in the figure below. The comarcas with greater participation have been Barcelonès, Vallès Occidental, Vallès Oriental i Osona, with a good participation also of the comarcas in Girona and Tarragona; on the opposite side, in the interior and west, many areas remained uncovered.

A total of 1.104 House Sparrows were counted and, maybe more suprisingly, 401 Blue Tits and 381 Great Tits in the 180 censuses carried out. The House Sparrow, in spite of the decrease of its populations in the whole of Europe, is still de commonest species living among us.

All in all, with the 2016 Winter Census we have obtained a good snapshot of the birds of gardens and parks of most of Catalonia and we can't do anything else but thank all those who have sent in observations and encourage the rest of OdJ users to do it in the forthcoming censuses.

Thank you so much!

posted by Abel Julien
Tuesday, January 26th, 2016
Remember: January 30 and 31 is the Winter Census 2016 weekend!

Next weekend, January 30 and 31, is the key weekend for Ocells dels Jardins: the Winter Census!

Can you spare at least 30 minutes to help us study the birds of our closest environment? Ocells dels Jardins is a project that investigates bird populations in private or public gardens and is useful to discover what factor affect their survival in this environment which, in spite of being artificial, is part of birds' lifes as much as it is of ours.

In the Winter Census it is only necessary to count the birds in your garden for a while anytime during the weekend. It's easy, fun and appropriate for begginners, experts, photographers and feeder watchers. If you already participate in the project, you can help us by encouraging your friends to cooperate, so that they can contribute to the knowledge of how urban birds face the winter. Particularly this year, with the highest temperatures for years, we are likely to find out different patterns.

We wait for you!

posted by Abel Julien
Monday, January 11th, 2016
Winter census 2016: 30 and 31 January

The week-end in which we ask OdJ collaborators to input observations at any time during those days is getting closer.

It will be on January 30 and 31. Set some time apart!

posted by Abel Julien
Tuesday, January 5th, 2016
The garden for birds

A garden is always beautiful as far our aesthetic tastes are concerned but the users of Ocells del Jardins know that if it is full of birds the garden is much more interesting; that's why many of us set feeders and nest boxes or plant vegetation that we think can be attractive for birds, either as food, shelter, breeding place or other use.

It is interesting to know what plants are the most interesting ones for birds and a French study has drawn our attention in relation to a creeper of the genus Parthenocissus which produces a sort of berries that are eagerly consumed by garden birds. The author explains that the Black Redstart feasts on those berries extensively from October to February, in a fiery competence with the Blackcap, which often is a dominant species in feeders.

In the study, it was calculated that each Black Redstart ate between 50 and 100 berries a day when it was cold but would moderate their consumption when temperatures rose. This means around 20-40 g. a day per birds, that is, roughly the same body weight of the bird or more.

This plant is also widely used in gardening in Catalonia. In the Parc del Francolí of the city of Tarragona, we can find it in some pergolas where Black Redstarts, Blackcaps, Robins, Mediterranean Warblers, Stonechats, Blackbirds and Starlings share this food source, not without some quarreling.

Blackcap feeding on Parthenocissus berries in the Parc del Francolí, Tarragona (photo: Raül Aymí).

posted by Abel Julien
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