Anyone admiring Hawke's Bay's birds over the next week will be able to help a good cause.
Residents are asked to spend an hour in their garden or local park watching birds as part of the annual NZ Garden Bird Survey which starts today.
The survey is a national citizen science project organised by Landcare Research and supported in the region by Hawke's Bay Regional Council (HBRC) and the Cape to City project.
Information gathered from the survey is made available to volunteer groups and organisations to measure progress on their enhancement projects.
HBRC Land Services manager and Cape to City project co-ordinator Campbell Leckie said Cape to City is one environmental project that uses the data.
"As bird populations do well and increase within the Cape Sanctuary area, they are moving out into the Cape to City project area to find suitable food and habitat, which indicates a healthy ecosystem, he said.
"More native birds are moving around urban areas too, so this survey information helps us learn about the corridors they are using to get into people's gardens."
Hastings-Havelock North Forest & Bird secretary Nick Sage said the survey was positive for the region because it showed how the bird numbers were changing.
"The number of birds has increased quite dramatically over the last few years."
A lot of work had been done in the region to trap and poison predators that eat birds such as stoats and cats.
Also the HBRC plantings were helping because they provided a corridor for the birds to spread out from the Cape Sanctuary, he said.
Anyone wanting to take part in the survey is asked to watch birds for an hour in their garden or local park during the week and count how many of each bird species they saw.
The survey can be filled out on www.landresearch.co.nz which also has information and photos for people to help identify less familiar birds.
Results of last year's survey and family activities such as quizzes, mask-making and colouring-in competitions can also be found on the site.
Information and survey forms are also available at public libraries.
People can add photos of birds or post pictures to the Facebook page for NZ Garden Birds.
Anyone taking part in the survey can look at the HBRC discussion document for a new Regional Pest Management Plan on www.hbrc.govt.nz.
There are also national initiatives such as the Threatened Species Strategy, which is out for consultation, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment's report on the state of our birds (Taonga of an Island Nation) and the proposals for Predator Free 2050.
The survey will be held from today until July 2.