How is the urban bird population doing?
Among the 83 birds of cities and villages, more species are declining than increasing. For example, the common blackbird and house sparrow are declining in population size, while European goldfinches and white storks are increasing within urban areas. The ‘urban bird population’ indicator represents the average trend of these 83 species of birds. It declined by just over 6 percent in the period from 2007 to 2020.
CBS calculates trends in the size of the population and the area of distribution of a large number of plant and animal species found in Dutch nature. To do this, observations are used which are mainly collected by volunteers, but also in part by professional observers. Examining the trends in conjunction allows CBS to form a reasonably complete impression of the state and development of Dutch nature. Since 2007, urban birds in the Netherlands have been counted via Sovon Vogelonderzoek Nederland’s Urban Bird Species Monitoring Network MUS.noot1 Sufficient data are available from 83 bird species to calculate a trend for urban birds.
|Observation||Trend||Trend uncertainty margin (low)||Trend uncertainty margin (high)|
|1) Excl. exotic species|
Peregrine falcon taking over the built environment in the Netherlands
The urban bird population can be divided into five groups according to habitat type: birds typically associated with built-up areas, e.g. house sparrows and peregrine falcons, forests and parks, such as song thrushes and great spotted woodpeckers, thickets and bushes, i.e. Eurasian wrens and nightingales, open greeneries, such as black-tailed godwits and white storks, and water and marshland, i.e. kingfishers and grey herons.
Birds strongly associated with the built environment, such as swifts and house sparrows, are advancing as a group (20 percent). However, this is mainly explained by the rapid increase of only one species: the peregrine falcon. Without this species, the average trend would actually decrease; house sparrows, western jackdaws, common starlings and Eurasian collared doves are decreasing in number. The peregrine falcon is climbing from a deep pit and is being helped in its recovery by special nest boxes on high-rise buildings.
|Urban green space||Urban green space trend uncertainty (low)||Urban green space trend uncertainty (high)||Water and marsh||Water and marsh trend uncertainty (low)||Water and marsh trend uncertainty (high)||Built-up areas||Built-up areas trend uncertainty (low)||Built-up areas trend uncertainty (high)||Forest/Park||Forest/Park trend uncertainty (low)||Forest/Park trend uncertainty (high)||Bush/Thicket||Bush/Thicket trend uncertainty (low)||Bush/Thicket trend uncertainty (high)|
|2020||90.14||84.4-9591||84.4-9591||130.36||125.85-13535||125.85-13535||122.55||116.47-12874||116.47-12874||79.54||76.14-8289||76.14-8289||68.74||65 - 72||65 - 72|
More water birds, fewer birds in urban green areas
Water birds, such as greylag geese, gadwalls and lesser black-backed gulls are advancing as a group in villages and cities: the average trend has increased by 30 percent since 2007. By contrast, birds typically associated with forests and parks (–20 percent), open greenery (–10 percent) and thicket and bush (–30 percent) are declining significantly within the urban environment.
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Urban Bird Species Monitoring Network (MUS)
The Urban Bird Species Monitoring Network (MUS) follows the trend in numbers of all breeding bird species of the urban environment. The term ‘urban environment’ is interpreted in a broad sense, encompassing not only cities and villages but also parks, business parks and industrial estates, allotments and sports grounds. Volunteers choose an available postal code area and identify and count all birds at 8-12 monitoring points within that area. They count exactly 5 minutes at each monitoring point. The monitoring network focuses on all types of breeding birds, including non-native birds such as collared parakeets, Egyptian geese and feral pigeons. These non-native birds are excluded from the indicator.