A harsh early winter is bringing more birds into our gardens this year, according to new figures from backyard bird-watchers across the country.
The annual nationwide garden bird survey, organised by Landcare Research scientist Dr Eric Spurr, has now been going for six days and wraps up this weekend.
Results which have so far come in from survey participants around the country show there are higher than average numbers of the species which have usually featured in the top 10 over the past eight years.
"This may reflect the harsh early winter conditions around the country, bringing birds into gardens in search of food," Dr Spurr said.
The top 10 rankings this year were similar to previous years, with the house sparrow and silvereye or white-eye dominating the two top spots, however, the song thrush had dropped out of the pecking order and the goldfinch had come in.
The results were still provisional because there are regional differences in bird abundance and this year's regional counts had not yet been weighted by the regional proportions of households in New Zealand, Dr Spurr said.
When the counts are weighted, the myna will rise in rank nationally - probably to about fifth - because it is restricted to northern regions of the country where most gardens occur and where it is numerous.
In last year's survey, the introduced species - classified as one of the three most invasive birds in the world by the International Union for Conservation of Nature - ranked as Auckland's third most abundant bird.
So far this year, more than 1300 people have participated in the survey and entered their results online.
This was a higher response rate than at the same time in previous years, Dr Spurr said, perhaps indicating that more people are entering their data online instead of submitting paper forms, or more people are participating this year, or both.
"The response from the public has been fantastic but we're still hoping a lot more people will do the survey in the remaining few days."
"The more people who do the survey the more accurate the results will be," he said.
Last year, around 3220 surveyors counted 106,175 birds around their sections - an average 33 per garden.
The survey is open to anybody who can identify birds in their garden - they can find out more and take part by going online.