National Bird Week is quickly approaching, and with that comes the Aussie Backyard Bird Count.
The Aussie Backyard Bird Count, organised by BirdLife Australia, is an event that people can participate in from their own homes and neighbourhoods. This annual event helps raise awareness for our Australian bird species, including birds that are endangered and need our help. Of course, with most folks still spending more than the usual amount of time at home, it’s the perfect time to participate in this COVID-safe event.
We spoke to Sean Dooley, National Public Affairs Manager at BirdLife Australia, about the event, what their goals are, and how people can get involved.
What’s the history of National Bird Week and the Aussie Bird Count?
The first Bird Day was established by the Gould League in Victoria in 1909 for schoolchildren. Over the years the idea was taken up by BirdLife Australia’s predecessors and expanded into National Bird Week.
There were lots of local activities to celebrate it across the country but no single national event, so in 2014 BirdLife Australia launched the Aussie Backyard Bird Count to tap into the tens of thousands of bird lovers out there who wouldn’t necessarily consider themselves serious birdwatchers but whose observations were really valuable and going unrecorded. By 2019 we had over 88,000 participants join in the fun.
How do you hope to inspire and encourage people to participate in this event?
With so many of us stuck at home this year, people have really started to notice birds more than ever. Birds have given us a connection to the outside world and to nature. As we’ve had time to take stock of what’s important to us, and what makes our lives better, birds have been right up there. We know this at BirdLife Australia as we’ve been inundated with queries about birds that people are seeing or hearing, and they’ve been sharing their bird observations, photos and stories with us.
We are hoping to be able to tap into this increased awareness and get people to share what they are seeing with us by joining in with the Aussie Bird Count. We want to let people know that doing the Aussie Bird Count is a great way to get out with your loved ones and experience the joy that seeing birds can bring, and to repay the birds by contributing your bird sightings to help us find out what’s going on out there so we can help birds.
What are The Aussie Backyard Bird Count’s goals and aims?
The Aussie Backyard Bird Count provides a great chance to get a snapshot of what’s going on with some of our most familiar birds- those we share our towns and cities with. Surprisingly, we actually know very little about how some of our most common garden birds are faring; the Aussie Bird Count has proved to be a brilliant way to help fill in some those gaps.
This year’s count is going to be even more crucial as we know that bushfires around the country have driven many surviving birds into places they wouldn’t normally spend time, such as people’s gardens which are often a welcome patch in a charred or drought-ridden landscape. It will be fascinating to see how many more birds are seeking refuge in our backyards and town parks.
How would people go about getting involved?
It’s really easy to participate in the Aussie Backyard Bird Count. Just download the Aussie Bird Count app or register at go to aussiebirdcount.org.au to register. And for anyone who feels a little nervous about being able to identify the birds they see, the app has this very nifty “Find a Bird” function that allows you to punch in the details of your mystery bird-it’s size, shape and main colours- and the app will come up with options, including pictures, of what species in your area that the bird is likely to be.
The Aussie Backyard Bird Count runs from 19 to 25 October 2020. Get registered and join the fun!