HOME » Citizen Science » The Australian Bird Feeding and Watering Study » Poll position

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Professor Darryl Jones, urban ecologist from the Griffith School of Environment at Griffith University in Brisbane, outlines an exciting national citizen science project run jointly with Melbourne’s Deakin University.
People all over the world feed birds and/or give them access to water. Nearly every country in the world has bird groups and conservation groups that can give you guidelines on what to do. Australia is not one of them (yet) because there has been a strong idea that feeding birds is a bad thing to do. The Australian Bird Feeding and Watering Study is about to change all that.


Grainne Cleary from Deakin is very interested in urban animals and birds and has already produced citizen science surveys. She has done a citizen science project on koalas and a bird bath survey for the National Parks Association of NSW.
Anyone can be involved in this new survey. They are particularly looking for people with a birdbath or those that feed birds, no matter where they live in Australia. 

The aim is to find out on a large scale just what people are doing in order to help birds. The survey lasts for the four weeks of August and is based on which bird species are coming to feed and which species use birdbaths.


August seems to be a good time for the survey as in Sydney butcherbirds, kookaburras, magpies and currawongs all have returned to backyards.
The unseasonal weather (warm winter then cold) has seen magpies building nests as well as other birds getting ready for nesting a month earlier than normal. Sydney has also seen the increasing presence of brush-turkeys in urban gardens and their use of even hanging bird feeders if available.

The survey website shows the proportion of participants for each state and territory. Over 1,000 people are already involved and every state and territory is covered. The website instantly updates after each data input, building on the data as they are added.

The survey will be run again in spring/ early summer and has places for comments. There are many inner city dwellers who report birds coming to tiny 17th floor balconies to use a feeder, reminiscent of the famous peregrine falcon (named Frodo) that was filmed raising chicks on an apartment block next to Brisbane’s Storey Bridge. Working with the peak bird group Birdlife Australia, the project aims to come up with a set of guidelines which will benefit the birds in the best way. The guidelines will give people who want to feed birds the information they need to not cause any damage to the birds.

Participants will also be encouraged to sign up for a longer, more detailed study which will experiment with different kinds of food and include photographs. The first summary will be produced in September.
There is still time to participate. Go to the citizen science database website and be part of this exciting research (csdb.org.au/feedingbirds)
Start your engines. You are in poll position.


Professor Darryl Jones was interviewed by Ruby Vincent for A Question of Balance. Summary text by Victor Barry, August 2016. Images variously from Darryl Jones, Paul McQueen and AQOB.

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Birdbath study goes national

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