Luxembourg's natur&ëmwelt has announced that its 14th annual Garden Birdcount will take place over the week-end of 26-27 January 2019.

During the week-end, members of the public are invited to observe and count, for an hour of your choice, the birds in your garden or on the balcony. Write down all the bird species you observe and their respective numbers. To submit your collected data, an online form will be available at

Using the annual census, natur&ëmwelt can estimate the populations of frequent species in urban areas which allows to establish population trends (increase or decrease for example) over the years. In 2018, the Great Tit was present in 85% of the gardens and as a result was the most frequent bird around houses that year. The blackbird occupied second place and was observed in 84% of the gardens. Other species that have been observed frequently include blue tit (76%), sparrow (69%) and robin (63%).
The annual Garden Birdcount is made possible by the fact that lots of birds spend the winter in people’s gardens. And the reason they do so is that people are feeding them. But is it a Good Thing or a Bad Thing? And is it just a winter activity, or is it OK to feed year-round? Here’s the official view, courtesy of natur&ëmwelt:
• Within the big picture, feeding garden birds is neither here nor there. It won’t help to save the planet, but unless you’re careless and inadvertently help pass on infections, it won’t do any harm either. Most birds will find enough to eat anyway; feeders just make life that bit easier in the short winter days. So it’s not so much the act of feeding that’s important – it’s the subsequent watching. Because most people feed garden birds for the fun of watching them: either squabbling over the food, or for the pleasure of seeing species other than just House Sparrows. For children in particular, it’s the ideal introduction to the exciting world of nature observation. Just follow a few basic rules, and you won’t go far wrong.

• Don’t feed kitchen scraps – they may contain ingredients (like salt) that do more harm than good. Go for things like sunflower seeds, chopped peanuts, rolled oats and salt-free fat balls and mixtures. Most shops stock good bird food nowadays, but at natur&ëmwelt’s Nature Shop at the House of Nature on the Kockelscheuer road, you’ll get not only the right products, but also plenty of good advice. Take your membership card along, and you’ll also get a discount.

• Don’t overdo it. In normal weather, birds will find enough to eat away from garden feeding stations. Just keep a steady supply going, so the birds know where to find food, and put a bit more out when the weather is bad.

• Use tubular devices or seed hoppers or other hanging feeders. If the food is spread casually over a table or on the ground, there’s a danger that the birds will simply sit on it or in it, and infections can quickly spread.

• Year-round feeding? This used to be counselled against, mainly on the grounds that parent birds might feed their young on indigestible stuff, like seeds, rather than on juicy and nutritious insects. Most authorities now accept that this doesn’t actually happen. On the other hand, why bother? There’s plenty of spring insect biomass in an ecologically managed garden, so just ban chemicals from your garden, don’t be over-tidy, and leave the birds to it.