What is the Town Belt bird count trail?

The Town Belt bird count trail is a bird monitoring project helping the community connect with nature and track the progress of urban predator control and habitat restoration.

A trail of 10 signs is threaded along the Town Belt - visit a sign for just five minutes and count all the birds you see and hear around you. You can stop at any sign to do a count, or follow the full trail from either direction on foot, bike or car. 

Each record that is submitted will help build a picture of changes in bird populations and the environment's health overtime. This is important for understanding the outcomes of conservation efforts in the Town Belt.

The trail will be in place permanently and will provide long-term insights into bird numbers.

What is a five minute bird count?

Five minute bird counts involve standing still at a specified location for five minutes to record all the birds you can see and hear around you. They are an easy way to monitor birds living in an area and provide a snapshot of the species that are present.

Bird counts in the Town Belt will provide important data about changes in urban bird populations and help us to monitor the outcome of predator control and habitat restoration in Dunedin's forests.

The more counts that are completed, the better the picture we have of bird populations.

Tips and tricks

  • Stand near the station and listen and look above and around for birds. 

  • Record the number and species of all birds you see and hear (try not to count the same bird twice!)

  • Not sure what bird you're seeing or hearing? Browse our list of common Town Belt birds.

  • If you can't identify a bird, simply record it as 'unspecified'.

  • Count for the full five minutes and submit your report even if you don't see or hear any birds.

What birds are living in the Town Belt?

At least twenty species of birds are regularly seen in the Town Belt and nearly half of them are native to New Zealand, including kererū, bellbirds/korimako, tūī, fantails/piwakawaka, and grey warblers/riroriro.

Over the coming years, we hope to see more native birds spreading across Dunedin. We're looking our for rarer native species such as South Island robin/kakaruwai, tomtit/ngirungiru, brown creeper/pīpipi and kākā returning to the city. 


Birds New Zealand (Otago Branch)

Birds New Zealand/Te Kāhui Mātai Manu o Aotearoa is the principal ornithological organisation in New Zealand. Its mission is to foster the study, knowledge and enjoyment of birds by both amateurs and professionals, as well as encouraging volunteers to work for the benefit of sustainable bird-life in New Zealand. Visit the Birds NZ website: www.birdsnz.org.nz

City Sanctuary - Predator Free Dunedin

City Sanctuary is one of three Predator Free Dunedin projects working together to get rid of possums, rats and stoats from Dunedin's urban and rural landscapes by 2050. Our vision is to create a vibrant sanctuary in Dunedin City where wildlife thrives and communities are leading predator control in backyards and reserves. Visit the City Sanctuary website: www.citysanctuary.nz 


New Zealand Birds Online - a digital encyclopaedia of birds found in New Zealand

Bird identification - an online course - a free online course created by the Department of Conservation Te Papa Atawhai

Merlin - a mobile app that you can use offline to browse bird calls and photos

eBird - an online database of bird sightings


If you're interested in using Town Belt bird count data for research or education, please get in touch:

Email: birds.otago@birdsnz.org.nz


Special thanks to:

  • Oscar Thomas for bird photographs

  • New Zealand Birds Online for audio clips and information

  • Isaac Lee for developing the original bird count website while a student at Otago Boys High School.