Which is the most seen bird during the winter bird count "Stunde der Wintervögel" in 2023? Is it again the house sparrow? Or is the great tit able to reach this year the first position? Well, as every year I participated in this Germany-wide citizen science project. And as always, I share my observations and some of the photographs I took in a blog entry.
Bird count 2023 – “Stunde der Wintervögel”
It is now the 13th time that the bird count "Stunde der Wintervögel" takes place. Wow! That is a great achievement! And I am happy that I am one of the many thousands of people that contribute every year bird observations to the Germany-wide data.
Although there is not much change in the first positions - be it all over Germany or just within a state - I am still every year curious about the results and some exceptional observations.
The bird count "Stunde der Wintervögel 2023" started on Friday, the 6th of January, and ended on the following Sunday, the 8th of January. It was unfortunately a rainy weekend. However, as I knew about the bad weather forecast, I decided to leave early on Saturday when it was still just cloudy.
About 99.000 people participated in the bird count this year. That is interesting and kind of concerning, as last year more than 176.000 participants contributed to the bird count. What was the reason for that decline? Was it the bad weather? Or was there just less interest for birds in general?
I hope it was just the bad weather.
Consequently, as there were fewer participants this year, fewer bird observations were registered in the results. While there were more than 4.2 million birds observed last year, this year, just 2.2 million birds were reported to the citizen science project.
It was already expected to see fewer birds at the bird feeders this year, as it was comparatively warm and the birds probably searched for food at some other place. But still, fewer participants as well meant fewer bird observations...
According to the NABU (Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union), which organizes the bird count every year together with its partner LBV (Landesbund für Vogelschutz), some birds like, for example, bramblings just did not migrate to Germany as usual. And other birds like Eurasian jays most probably found food elsewhere due to the great number of fruits after a year of tree mast.
Question: Have you participated in the bird count 2023 "Stunde der Wintervögel"? Or in any other bird count of this citizen science project? If yes, please let me know more about your observations in the comments.
As almost every year, I went to the Tiergarten in Berlin. The following order of birds represents the order of the Germany-wide observations.
There was no surprise in the first position. The house sparrow is the most observed bird species in Germany again. The trend shows slightly downwards when compared to the previous year, but it is still the most seen bird in Germany. And in Berlin. In the Tiergarten, I spotted nine individuals at once on that weekend.
The second most common bird in Germany’s gardens, balconies, and parks is the great tit. Its relative number slightly decreased as well - even a little bit more than the house sparrow. However, it is still a very common bird Germany-wide. In Berlin, there was no change when compared to the previous year. In total, I observed five great tits.
Information: Please note that I do not mention absolute bird observations. That means, because of fewer participants this year, of course, there were fewer observations of the respective bird species. For example, the total number of great tits in 2022 was 543.322 and in 2023 the total number reached 272.710. The last column of the results for the great tit (here: -11%) indicates a trend and is not the absolute percentage of a decrease.
The relative number of blue tits as well slightly decreased compared to the previous year. Germany-wide, the blue tit is still counted as the third most common bird species. However, blue tits reached only the fifth position in the bird count in Berlin. On the third position was the common wood pigeon. That is interesting, as I did not spot any individual of this species in the Tiergarten. But I spotted five blue tits.
The Eurasian blackbird reached the fourth position all over Germany, but only the seventh position in Berlin. That is interesting, as I see them almost everywhere. Especially in the Tiergarten of Berlin. Thus, in total, I counted eight Eurasian blackbirds which I could contribute to the bird count.
The common chaffinch is quite common in Germany in winter, as it came to the seventh position. In Berlin, however, they are not that common, as they reached only the twenty-first position. But I saw a single individual on that Saturday in the park. I do not see them regularly in the Tiergarten, only from time to time.
There was almost no difference between the number of European robins Germany-wide and in Berlin with respect to the position. All over Germany, European robins came to the eleventh position and in Berlin to the fifteenth. Typically, I see them as single birds and not in larger groups.
Great spotted woodpecker
The same happens to the great spotted woodpecker. There was almost no difference. All over Germany, great spotted woodpeckers reached the fifteenth position and in Berlin the fourteenth. I observed a single great spotted woodpecker at first up in a tree and later at the bird feeder. Was it the same individual or were there two of them? As I did not see two great spotted wood peckers at the same time, I just could count one individual.
I do not want to have favourite birds, but I think that Eurasian nuthatches are quite amusing to observe. I saw two of them at the same time. Thus, I could contribute two individuals to the bird count 2023 "Stunde der Wintervögel". They always move so quickly. Luckily, they are quite common in the Tiergarten of Berlin, but they only came to the nineteenth position in Berlin and to the eighteenth Germany-wide (photo taken in May 2021 in the Tiergarten of Berlin).
As mentioned above, Eurasian jays were not as common as in other years. Actually, I did not see a Eurasian jay for longer than a few seconds. As fast the bird appeared, as fast it disappeared again. This was my Eurasian jay observation for this year's bird count. However, Eurasian jays apparently were relatively more common in Berlin this year than Germany-wide, as in Berlin, Eurasian jays reached the thirteenth position, while in all over Germany the bird came to only position twenty-one (photo taken in April 2017 in Prague).
In Berlin, I see so many Eurasian blackbirds (see above), hooded crows (see below), or mallards. Why there were so few mallards seen Germany-wide? Correspondingly, they reached position twelve in Berlin and only position twenty-five all over Germany. In total, I saw six of them swimming in a small pond in the Tiergarten of Berlin.
Usually, I see many hooded crows in larger groups in the Tiergarten of Berlin. Sometimes also in the Volkspark Friedrichshain. Thus, they are quite common in Berlin. Germany-wide, however, they only came to the twenty-eighth position. In Berlin, in contrast, they reached the fourth position just after the common wood pigeon. However, this time, I did not see any hooded crow anywhere on the ground in the park, but I saw some of them sitting in trees. I counted eleven individuals.
Eurasian moorhens are not very common in winter. Be it all over Germany or just in Berlin. In Berlin, Eurasian moorhens came only to the forty-sixth position. Germany-widen even to only the sixty-fourth position. But still, apparently its relative number increased when compared to the previous year. I saw a single individual in the pond where I saw the mallards.
The Mandarin duck is not a native bird species in Germany, but still, quite common in Berlin where it reached the thirtieth position. In contrast, Germany-wide, Mandarin ducks came to only the sixty-ninth position. In total, I counted nine Mandarin ducks resting at the edge of a pond in the Tiergarten of Berlin.
As always, I had a great joy being outside and counting birds. Thus, it is every time a pleasure for me to participate in the bird count "Stunde der Wintervögel". Even when it is a little bit wet, cloudy and cool.
Tip: Are you interested to participate in the next bird count? There are two bird counts every year organized by the NABU. One bird count is in winter (this one) and the other one in spring. The next bird count - "Stunde der Gartenvögel 2023" - takes place from the 14th to the 16th of May.
More about the citizen science project
In the past I have already participated in this citizen science project. If you are interested in all the other blog entries about the birds which I found in other year, please check the ones of 2020, 2021 or 2022. You can also look at the other bird count blog entries in spring - "Stunde der Gartenvögel" - if you click on either 2020, 2021, or 2022.
It is always a pleasure to participate in the bird counts. Every year I have so many special encounters. Even with species I already know very well. I am also always happy to see any other animal during the one-hour bird count. I, for example, see every time some Eurasian red squirrels which very enrich my time outside...
Links about the bird count 2023
Have you participated in the bird count 2023 "Stunde der Wintervögel"? Or in another year? Maybe you know other bird citizen science projects? Please let me know in the comments!