Breeding bird counts reveal: grouse and forest-dwelling tits few and far between

National counts of breeding birds carried out by volunteer bird-watchers expose the state of bird populations. For the first time in Finland, the recent results have been made available to the public.

This summer, the nesting season in Finland was exceptionally long. Thanks to a warm May, some birds nested at a very early stage.

“On the other hand, migratory birds arrived in great numbers still in June, which made the nesting summer extremely long. The cause for such a late arrival was most likely the foul weather in May on the Mediterranean, which made migrating difficult,” muses Päivi Sirkiä, a research coordinator at the Finnish Museum of Natural History Luomus, part of the University of Helsinki.

Willow ptarmigan and hazel grouse remain in the doldrums, the descent of whinchat and ortolan continues

Among grouse, willow ptarmigan seems to be having a particularly bad year, while hazel grouse added another weak year to its previous ones. The willow tit and crested tit populations, which have been in decline, still show no signs of recovery. Whinchat and ortolan, which inhabit fields, continue their steep decline.

“The species closely dependent on voles were nowhere to be seen, except in the Ostrobothnia region, where the abundance of short-eared owls suggests a high vole abundance ,” Sirkiä says.

Warm weather notwithstanding, the number of common swifts in the count was the lowest in years. Likewise, the year seems very bad for wood warbler and greenfinch. Greenfinch shows no signs of recovery from the parasite epidemic that had its onset in 2008.

Large numbers of common redpoll and brambling

Common redpoll and brambling were seen in large numbers for the second summer in a row, while common linnet had one of the best years in the history of the counts.

“Eurasian tree sparrow and blue tit, garden birds whose numbers have substantially risen in recent decades, seem to have come down a bit from the peak population some years ago,” reflects Sirkiä.

The data is based on national line transect counts carried out by bird-watchers and coordinated by Luomus in collaboration with BirdLife Suomi, a conservation organisation. Since information from all count locations has not yet been submitted, the results will be further specified at a later date.

“The contribution of volunteer counters is extremely important for monitoring the status of birds,” stresses Sirkiä.

Results openly available

For the first time, the fresh results, in Finnish, of the breeding bird count are available to all on the website of the Finnish Biodiversity Info Facility.

“The open nature of the data benefits citizens with interested in birds and their environment in a broad manner,” notes Sirkiä. 

 

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