National Bird Week
National Bird Week is coming up fast and will take place from 19 – 25 October this year. As part of it, the annual Aussie Backyard Bird Count will also continue, as it has since it began in 2014.
We asked Sean Dooley, National Public Affairs Officer at BirdLife Australia, some questions about the national event and the organisation. Read below what he had to say about the bird count and Australian birds in general.
Our Interview with Sean Dooley, National Public Affairs Officer at BirdLife Australia
Who is BirdLife Australia?
BirdLife Australia is our national bird conservation organisation. We work with our scientists and volunteers to stop the extinction of Australian birds. We are a not-for profit supported by tens of thousands of people around the country who share our passion for Australian birds.
What is the Aussie Backyard Bird Count?
The Aussie Backyard Bird Count is a once a year event. People from all over Australia take 20 minutes out of their week to record the birds they see in their local neighbourhood. It could be anywhere – their backyard, front yard, local park, beach, school or wetland. We started the first Bird Count in 2014 as part of our celebration of National Bird Week, which began in 1909. Until that time, there was no national event that anyone could join in to share their love of Australian birds.
Why is it important to get involved?
There’re two great reasons to get involved in the Aussie Bird Count. The first is that it is a lot of fun for the people involved and a great way to connect with nature. As COVID-19 confined many of us to our homes this year, connecting with nature has become even more important.
The second reason is that your Bird Count sightings contribute to filling in our knowledge of some of our most common birds. This gives BirdLife a really important snapshot about how our birds are going, which species are doing well, and which ones are in trouble. We can then use this information to help us plan how best to protect Australian birds.
It’s very simple to get involved. Just download the Aussie Bird Count app or sign up online HERE.
The great thing about birds is that they are pretty much everywhere. Even in the middle of the city you should be able to see some fantastic birds in Australia. We actually all probably know at least one or two types of birds. A handy hint is to compare a new bird to one that you know. Is it bigger than a sparrow? Has it got a bill like a parrot? What colours are different to a magpie? Urban birds in our cities and towns are generally more used to people and less shy than birds in the bush. But, it also helps if you are quiet when looking at them. In addition, try not to make any sudden or big movements which could scare them off.
The best thing is going out looking with an experienced birdwatcher. However, having the Aussie Bird Count app with you is almost as good! If you see a bird you don’t know the name of, you can enter the basic details-size, shape and colours – in the ‘Find a Bird section’. It will then provide pictures and details of what the bird is likely to be.
Do you have a favourite bird? Or is it like picking a favourite child?
It is a bit like picking a favourite child. In some ways my favourite bird is the one I’m looking at as they are all so wonderful, each in their own way. It could be because of their colours, their song, their antics or their rarity. While I always love seeing a new bird, I find even the common ones in my neighbourhood make me happy every time I look at them.
In Australia we are so lucky to have such incredibly interesting birds literally on our doorstep. But if I had to answer, I would pick the Grey-crowned Babbler. They are so hilarious to watch, and there used to be a family of them in my schoolyard when I was a kid. Sadly, those birds are gone, and the species is now extinct in southern Victoria. This because unfortunately, like many woodland birds, they lost too much of their habitat due to land clearing.