Join the count of SA’s urban birds

As the magpies begin to swoop, South Australians can win prizes, reconnect with nature and help preserve it by spending just 20 minutes birdwatching.

Oct 06, 2023, updated Oct 09, 2023
Photo: Aussiegirl/Wikimedia Commons

Photo: Aussiegirl/Wikimedia Commons

BirdsLife Australia is holding its tenth annual Aussie Bird Count from October 16 to 22, coinciding with National Bird Week.

The citizen science experiment has been held since 2014 and is a chance for anybody to enjoy  South Australia’s rich bird life and help preserve it at the same time.

Managing Vice President of Birds SA, Ray Nias, has taken part every year except last but will be rejoining the count this year.

“I think it’s a lot of fun,” Nias said. “It’s interesting to see what is in your area and I think it’s also valuable because it builds a picture of how urban birds are faring over the years.”

Joining the count is easy and it only takes 20 minutes.

Participants just have to pick an outdoor space like their backyard, local park, or even their window, spend 20 minutes counting the birds they see and noting their species, and then submit their findings on the Aussie Bird Count app or the count’s website.

BirdLife Australia’s public affairs manager, Sean Dooley, said the submitted data will add to work done by trained birdwatchers and ornithologists and help shape BirdLife Australia’s broader Bird Conservation Strategy to halt bird extinctions by 2032 and overall bird declines by 2050.

“The information that we get from people doing the count allows us to fill in a huge knowledge gap about the common birds that we see where we live every year,” Dooley said. “It’s like a snapshot.”

Dooley said the count has revealed SA’s bird population has remained remarkably consistent over the last 10 years, with the three most cited birds being the magpie, the rainbow lorikeet and the New Holland honeyeater.

But the scientific count is a chance to also just enjoy South Australia’s birdlife.

“It’s the most enjoyable time to just go out and look at birds,” Dooley said. “More northernly species have headed to southern Australia and it’s also the height of the nesting season so there’s a lot of young birds around.”

Dooley said some of the migratory birds South Australians can look forward to spotting are the red-neck stint, the sharp-tailed sandpiper, and the eastern curlew, if they are on coastal areas or wetland areas.

South Australian participants in the program have increased in the last year.

“We’ve seen a huge growth in people getting involved in the count, which is fantastic,” said Dooley.

“We had a dip last year in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland because it rained all week for the bird count but the weather was much better in South Australia and we saw an increase in participants in South Australia.”

Participation in the count has increased since the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We certainly got a major uptick in people participating during the pandemic,” Dooley said.

“I think that’s reflecting the fact that people weren’t traveling and were looking for distraction from all the grim news and birds provided that for a lot of people and a lot of people reconnected with nature.

“They’re the most obvious and colourful example of nature we have in our daily lives.”

Anyone who adds to the count this year will also have a chance to win a prize.

The prizes up for grabs include a digital camera package, binoculars and a scarf embellished with the face of a magpie.

Sign up for the count here.

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