Parkes Shire Council is encouraging the Shire's bird enthusiasts and nature lovers to become citizen scientists and participate in next week's 2021 Aussie Backyard Bird Count. This year, the annual event runs from 18 to 24 October 2021.
To complete the Aussie Backyard Bird Count, participants spend 20 minutes in their backyards, local parks or favourite nature spots recording and counting bird species present. Observations are submitted either through the Aussie Bird Count app or through an online web form.
Parkes Shire Council's Environment and Sustainability Officer Michael Chambers said, "The Aussie Backyard Bird Count is a fun and safe activity that can be enjoyed regardless of the COVID-19 restrictions.
"This is a great opportunity for residents to get out in nature, observe and potentially learn more about the bird species that call Parkes Shire home. Parkes Shire residents came out in force during 2020, and we would love to see similar or even higher numbers of participation in 2021," said Mr Chambers.
In its seventh year, the 2020 Aussie Bird Count saw more than one hundred thousand Aussies take to their backyards and local green spaces to count more than 4.6 million birds. Involvement across the Parkes Shire was significantly up from previous years, increasing from 30 participants in 2019 to 231 in 2020. Parkes residents observed a total of 4,232 individual birds across 94 species.
Consistent with previous years, the most recorded species across the Parkes Shire was the iconic galah, followed by magpies, house sparrows, crested pigeons and magpie-larks. Residents also managed to record several vulnerable species, including the superb parrot, grey-crowned babbler and Major Mitchell's cockatoo. Encouragingly, of the 94 species recorded in 2020, only six were introduced species. Across Australia, the most recorded species was the rainbow lorikeet, with more than half a million counted in 2020.
This species has finished on top every year, reflecting the changes in Aussie backyards over the past half century. The replacement of European-style cottage gardens with native backyards containing eucalypts, grevilleas and bottle brush is ideal for species like the rainbow lorikeet.
Originating in 2014, the Aussie Backyard Bird Count provides an opportunity for anyone to become a citizen scientist in October during National Bird Week. The event has become one of the largest citizen science projects in Australia, helping to fill critical knowledge gaps concerning common backyard bird species. It also plays an important role in raising the profile of native species throughout Australia, highlighting their cultural and ecological importance and promoting a national passion for birds.
Fostering a national passion for birds is extremely important, as data indicates some of Australia's most familiar backyard species, such as the laughing kookaburra, are seeing their numbers in decline.
"With growing national and international concern for the welfare of Australian wildlife, results from the Aussie Backyard Bird Count can provide important insights into how native birds are faring. The data can also inform policies, species management decisions and provide advocacy for threatened species," added Mr Chambers.
Data obtained from the annual Aussie Backyard Bird Count will enable Council to increase environmental engagement among residents, inform land management decisions and monitor the success of tree planting efforts across the Shire.
Membership with BirdLife Australia is open to anyone interested in birds and their habitats and concerned about the future of our avifauna. Registrations for the 2021 Aussie Backyard Bird Count can be done online at https://aussiebirdcount.org.au/.