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Pandemic turns Swiss into nation of bird ‘twitchers’

Published on 10/05/2020

Several weeks of enforced confinement at home has developed a passion for bird watching among the Swiss. Some 4,300 households took part in a week-long “Birds of our Gardens” project, initiated by BirdLife Switzerland.

The conservation group challenged people to log the number of bird species in their gardens over the course of the week. Households, individuals and school classes responded with a record 140,850 sightings, BirdLife Switzerland reported on Sunday.

The most common reported sightings were blackbirds, sparrows and great tits. But a number of other species, including the goldfinch, greenfinch and girlitz, were included among the reports.

On average, 9.5 different species were counted in every Swiss garden. That fell to 7.1 species in gardens that had fewer natural features and grew to 11.5 species in wilder spaces.

The bird “twitcher” scheme was launched to promote appreciation of the array of biodiversity to be found close to home. The coronavirus lockdown presented an opportunity to recruit more people to the project as they have been spending more time at home.

The results of the project “show that a small natural paradise can be created in any garden” or other space in residential areas, said BirdLife Switzerland’s Raffael Ayé. “This requires native trees and shrubs, flower meadows or small structures such as piles of branches.”