Call for help with French bird study

Can you tell a greenfinch from a chaffinch? Then researchers for a nationwide bird survey would like your help

4 March 2014

CAN YOU tell a female greenfinch from a female chaffinch or sparrow? What about a bluetit from a great tit?

If you can, and you have access to a garden, then researchers at the French natural history museum would like your help with a nationwide study of the eating and social habits of native birds.

The study by the museum's citizen wildlife group Vigie-Nature, which runs until March 14, is examining competition between various species on birdtables.

Researchers are asking people to put different food on two identical birdtables and see which birds are attracted to which foods – and which birds mix comfortably or compete with others.

The two tables should be set between two and five metres apart and away from buildings or other obstructions.

Before you start, remove any greaseballs and other feeders and put sunflower seeds on both tables to attract birds. Then place one sort of food such as unshelled sunflower seeds on one of the tables, and any one of niger seeds, shelled peanuts, mealworms and ordinary birdseed (without sunflower seeds) on the other and count the number and species of birds that go to each table.

Then, complete a survey document which is available to download here

For more details, log on to

Photo:Brian Fuller

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