Note the diversity and decline of birds.

This is what the Observatory of garden birds, managed by the LPO and the MNHN, offers, the most important French participatory science system involving the general public, on January 28 and 29.

The operation, launched in 2012, aims to complement and confirm the trends observed in nature by experts.

Because the news is not good for common birds.

Despite a more abundant presence in French gardens in winter, due to migrations or changes in their behavior, their numbers have continued to decline overall for ten years.

Since 2012, the Observatory of Garden Birds, a vast participatory science operation carried out under the aegis of the League for the Protection of Birds (LPO) and the National Museum of Natural History (MNHN), has been making parallel inventories every last week -end of January and May the presence of the most common birds based on observations of 85,000 individuals (including more than 28,000 in 2022).


Paris: the mystery of the missing sparrows © France 24

"A real disaster"

At first glance, its balance sheet seems to be mixed: in winter, 49% of bird species show an increase, such as the jackdaw, 20% are stable and 11% are declining (coal tits), while in spring the trends are completely reversed, with 41% of species in regression (spotted accentor, swallows), 24% stable and 2% on the rise (hoopoe, melodious linnet), according to the Observatory.

But for the president of the LPO, Allain Bougrain-Dubourg, make no mistake.

"The observation is clear, it is an alarming decline, and for certain species a real carnage that we observe."

An observation that corroborates the latest studies to date: in 2021, the French Office for Biodiversity and the MNHN had warned of the 30% decline in common birds in France, based on observations by professional ornithologists.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) reports a threat of extinction for 32% of breeding birds in France.

How to explain such opposite figures between winter and spring?

Quite simply because "in winter, we have several interferences which intervene", explains the ornithologist Benoît Fontaine.

Among them, the influx of migratory birds which leave in the spring, such as the blackcap whose presence has increased by 57% in the last ten years in French gardens.

A phenomenon amplified by climate change.

It has led this species, which once migrated to Spain, to now stop in France due to milder temperatures, thus inflating the statistics.

The effects of pollution and global warming

Another bias, the change in behavior of certain birds which, affected by pollution or the drop in insects linked to intensive agriculture, would have "begun to exploit the gardens as a feeding point, at a time when natural resources are running out. miss" in their home environment, says the LPO.

Among the most emblematic species of these carryover phenomena is the European goldfinch, an endangered species, but which has seen its presence increase by 83% in French gardens.

Like him, the house sparrow, driven out of cities (-73% in Paris between 2003 and 2016) or the house robin (-17% in 18 years) nevertheless remain stable in gardens.

“Gardens, despite having an ecosystem of their own, only reflect fundamental trends,” explains Benoît Fontaine.

Species saved 

Among them, the explosion of certain opportunistic species, such as wood pigeons, which rose from 17th to 9th place among the most observed species in winter (+3 places in spring) and whose French population rose by 78% between 2000 and 2018.

The same goes for the rose-ringed parakeet, which between 2013 and 2022 saw its presence increase tenfold in French gardens.

Conversely, gardens are sometimes only helpless witnesses to the slow erosion of certain birds, such as the black swift (-46%) or the European greenfinch (-46%), victims of the degradation of their habitats. natural.

"For certain emblematic species of wild birds, such as storks or peregrine falcons", threatened in the 1970s, "we managed to save them thanks to conservation programs. But for local birds, these are all our lifestyles that we will have to change if we want to have a chance of stemming the decline", concludes Allain Bougrain-Dubourg.

With AFP

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