Big backyard bird count

Campbells Creek’s Jane Rusden has her trusty binoculars at the ready as she gets set for this month’s Aussie Backyard Bird Count.
Jane is convenor of BirdLife Castlemaine District and she’s encouraging everyone to get twitching and be part of this month’s big Aussie Backyard Bird Count.
The big national bird survey run by Birdlife Australia happens over October 19-25 and this year’s is more important than ever to get a clear picture of how our feathered friends have been impacted by major events like the devastating Black Summer bushfires.
A qualified zoologist, Jane says everyone – from children to qualified ornithologists – can participate in the big count, and in our neck of the woods it doesn’t even have to be done in an actual backyard.
“Citizen science has a very important role to play and it’s so easy. You just note down all of the birds you see in a 20 minute period,” she says.
“For our area it’s not limited to backyards. It can be done in the botanical gardens, a patch of bushland or even the middle of a paddock.
“And it’s just as important to record where there aren’t birds as well as where there are, so if people don’t get many birds on their survey that’s still really valuable information.”
One of Australia’s largest conservation events, the count plays a valuable role in helping track and protect native birds for future generations.
Studies estimate that a shocking 180 million birds were wiped out by the destructive Black Summer bushfires, but a significant number of wild birds sought refuge from the devastation in the gardens and parks that survived the flames.
BirdLife Australia national public affairs manager Sean Dooley says this year’s count is more important than ever to compare data across the country to previous years and track the longer-term impact on our wild birdlife.
“With climate change expected to increase the frequency and intensity of bushfires, we really need all Australians to get involved in the count this year,” Mr Dooley says.
“Every year we’re seeing more Australians take part, which is really exciting and shows how fun the count can be.”
Last year, more than 88,000 Australians counted nearly 3.4 million birds with the rainbow lorikeet, noisy miner and Australian magpie remaining Australia’s most counted birds.
This year the national total will be updated in real time and access to a computer or smart phone is all that’s needed to participate.
Castlemaine and surrounds is known to contain a keen birdwatching fraternity and everyone is invited to register for the count and can learn how to participate at www.aussiebirdcount.org.au

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