Applications open early March 2024. Please check back for updates and access to the application form on our website.
Working with scientists, partners, and a strong community of people passionate about birds and their habitats, especially globally recognised Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs), we combine the best of conservation practice and sound science to achieve critical wins for Australia’s most threatened birds.
Successful applications will align with our Bird Conservation Strategy to ensure Australian birds thrive. Supporting BirdLife Australia’s Bird Conservation Strategy 2023-2032 is our first ever Research Strategy 2023-2027, which defines our role and research needs, identifies objectives and activities that support research goals identified in the Bird Conservation Strategy and prioritises investment in those activities.
Therefore, we suggest that in preparing your research application you:
We have Conservation Programs across Australia with diverse priorities and can put you in touch with our teams and are always happy to work together.
This Grant was established in 1997 by Mr Stuart Leslie AM, who was then one of Birds Australia’s long-time major donors and a keen birdwatcher. Aware of the crucial importance of ongoing ornithological research and the financial challenges facing Australian students, Mr Leslie generously committed to awarding $15,000 per year to support postgraduate fieldwork and travel to scientific conferences. In late 2004, he was awarded Fellowship of Birds Australia.
There are two Stuart Leslie Grants:
The Stuart Leslie Bird Research Grant supports bird-focused or ornithological research that aligns with BirdLife Australia’s Bird Conservation Strategy and contributes to Birdlife Australia’s conservation and science programs, recognising the importance of birds as bioindicators of environmental health.
The Stuart Leslie Travel Grant is given to individuals attending conferences with a significant focus on avian research or bird-related topics.
Since its establishment, the Grant has provided $770,000, supporting more than 200 projects, including studies on threatened species such as the Powerful Owl, Regent Honeyeater and Hooded Plover. Each year, the number of applications received has increased, highlighting the vital need for award schemes such as this.
Mr Leslie chose to fund bird research because birds are excellent indicators of the overall health of the environment, and he also encouraged other individuals and corporations to consider donating to research organisations.
“Wildlife research is vital to our future,” he said. “Bird species are declining and we often don’t know why. Many Australians are in the position, individually or through their business, to make a real difference to the future of our wildlife. It is a relatively easy and immensely satisfying thing to do.”
The Stuart Leslie Grant will continue to support ornithological research into the future thanks to a generous bequest from Mr Leslie, who passed away in 2005, as well as ongoing support from Mrs Leslie and the Stuart Leslie Foundation.
Typically, grants of between $500 and $5000 are awarded for research projects and up to $1000 for attending conferences.
Successful applicants are eligible to reapply annually, provided satisfactory progress has been made and reporting requirements have been met.
Preference is given to supporting researchers at an early stage of their research program.
Applications for the 2024 Stuart Leslie Bird Research and Travel Grant open early March 2024. Please check back for updates and access to the application form on our website. Applications close on March 31 annually. Results will be announced in June.
Applications will be assessed by at least two senior scientists from BirdLife Australia and/or external referees.
The merit of applications will be judged on:
In accordance with the application criteria, the following conditions must be met:
A total of $42,500 was awarded to 18 projects in 2023, including nine applicants for conference travel. Research grant recipients include:
As part of our Student Research and Travel Grant, we will be presenting the Allen Keast Research Award to recognise and celebrate the most outstanding student research application among the pool of applicants.
With his wide scope of research, the number of scientists he collaborated with and his role in educating the global ornithological community about Australia’s birds, Professor Allen Keast was one of Australia’s most influential ornithologists.
His desire to fund this award stems from a lifelong passion to encourage and support young ornithologists.
Professor Keast was made a Fellow of the RAOU in 1965 and awarded the D.L. Serventy Medal in 1995. He passed away in 2009.
With awards of up to $5000 awarded annually, this prestigious award is reserved for the most meritorious applications. Successful applicants are eligible to reapply each year, provided satisfactory progress has been made and reporting requirements have been met. Preference is given to supporting researchers at an early stage of their research program.
2023: Kirrily Hastings, from Edith Cowan University, for her research project: ‘Finding space: Breeding territory abandonment in Western Hooded Plover in association with human disturbance and altered habitat quality’.
2022: Felipe Jorge, from the University of Queensland, for his research project: ‘Assessing the effectiveness of acoustic indices for monitor bird diversity associated with habitat restoration efforts’.
2021: Erin Bok, from the University of Tasmania, for her research project: ‘Forty-spotted Pardalote and manna gum: joining the spots to save an Australian endangered bird species’.
2019: William Mitchell, from Monash University, for his research project: ‘Reintroduction of the Mallee Emu-wren to Ngarkat Conservation Park’.
2018: Johanne Martens, from Deakin University, for her research project: ‘Ecology of beak and feather disease virus in wild Australian parrots’.
2017: Fernanda Alves, from the Australian National University, for her research project: ‘Conservation and management of an endangered refugee species: the Forty-spotted Pardalote’.
2016: Richard Beggs, from the Australian National University, for his research project: ‘Removing a reverse keystone species: Impacts of an experimental cull of Noisy Miners on small-bodied woodland birds in remnant woodland fragments within an agricultural matrix’.