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Friday, October 16, 2015

Bird Counts

Even though birds sometimes nibble at the produce I raise, I would never want a backyard farm without them. Their presence in my yard assures me the eco-system right outside my door is diverse and robust.

Conservationists likewise value birds as a barometer of the landscape, and seek the help of "citizen scientists" to help track birds in their own yards. The website ebird.org provides a format to submit observations any time, or people may participate in organized bird counts over designated time frames. One such is in Australia next week. An international backyard bird count is slated for Feb. 12-15, 2016 -- we will write about that more here closer to then. 

Have you ever participated in a bird count? This seems a fascinating activity to do with children, students or scouts. If you've participated, what did you learn and enjoy most?

Here is a release about the Australia count:

  1. The Aussie Backyard Bird Count is back, and the aim is to spot a million birds in seven days. A key celebration of Bird Week 2015, it will run from 19-25 October.

    Last year, BirdLife Australia’s first-ever Aussie Backyard Bird Count confirmed that our backyards—in all their shapes and sizes—continue to attract a range of birds, giving us hope that even as the iconic Aussie backyard shrinks, many birds remain.

    The birds—and their counters—came out in record numbers for the first Aussie Backyard Bird Count, with more than 800,000 birds spotted and many different species seen in backyards across the country. Colourful Rainbow Lorikeets led the national tally, being the most spotted birds in NSW, WA, SA and Queensland, while the Australian Magpie led the flock in Victoria and the ACT. In the NT the Budgerigar was the most common bird, while the House Sparrow led in Tasmania.

    The national focus on birds is extremely important with data showing Australian backyards have been shrinking since the 1990s, and populations of some of our most familiar birds, such as Australian Magpies and Laughing Kookaburras, have also declined. With growing national and international concern for the welfare of these iconic birds, it’s critical that all Australians take the time this October to participate in the second Aussie Backyard Bird Count.

    BirdLife Australia is hoping to build on the success and momentum of last year’s Aussie Backyard Bird Count, encouraging more people to get involved and count their local birds during Bird Week 2015, 19-25 October. If you’re an early bird, you can register your interest as a counter now at aussiebirdcount.org.au or join the #AussieBirdCount conversation.

    To get involved all you need is 20 minutes, your ‘green patch’ of choice, and some keen eyesight or binoculars. And it doesn’t matter if you’re a novice or an expert—we’ll be there to help you out along the way. Simply record the birds you know and look up those you don’t on our updated Aussie Bird Count app (available for download early October) or our website. You’ll see live statistics and information on who is taking part near you and the number of birds and species counted across your neighbourhood and the whole of Australia!

    And to help you on your way, as part of National Bird Week, BirdLife Australia and the Birds in Backyards program will help Australians create more bird-friendly backyards, with advice on which trees and shrubs to plant. It’s amazing what a difference native trees make.

    For more information about Aussie birds visit birdlife.org.au 


daisy g said...

What a great homeschooling activity!

David said...

Jennifer, birds are one species of wildlife that have adapted to urban and city life. In the Spring time when the weather warms up I leave my bedroom windows open at night to breathe in the fresh Spring air during the night. For several years I would wake up in the morning to a bird singing to me from the cedar tree just outside my window. I always thought it was a perfect way to wake up in the morning. I'm not sure what the life cycle is for a bird but this continued for several years. Sadly this last year the singing bird was not there. I never saw the bird or could really identify it by the song it sang. It was just my morning nature blessing to wake up and start the day.

I'm terrible at identifying birds. Robins I know. Meadow larks (our state bird), blue-jays, wrens, pigeons, crows, and maybe a couple others are really all I can recognize. I do see a hawk at times while gardening and wild turkeys help with bug control. I do enjoy just sitting with a cup of coffee on the poor man's living patio and just watching and listening to natures symphony.

Have a great bird identification day.