Surveys and bird counts


  • Date and time Ongoing
  • Locations Western Australia's South West
Submit a survey in Birdata

The CockyWatch road survey

CockyWatch road surveys are a citizen science initiative that will help us find out more about the black-cockatoos of the South West. These birds are threatened at both a state and national level, but there are no robust estimates of their population size – a real problem for cockatoo researchers – but with CockyWatch, you can help expand our knowledge about these charismatic birds.

Where can I take part in this survey?

Anybody in the Western Australia’s South West can participate in CockyWatch, anywhere from north of Kalbarri to east of Esperance. All you need to do is be in transit – if your drive is longer than 20 kilometres, or you’re walking/cycling for at least 2 kilometres, you can conduct a CockyWatch survey.

How (and why) to participate in CockyWatch

How many black-cockatoos are left? Scientists aren’t sure, because they range over such a large area, from north of Kalbarri to east of Esperance. Also, they’re able to travel easily across this landscape. Getting a better idea of how many black-cockatoos there are is vital if we are to help them.

What is CockyWatch for?

The information gathered through CockyWatch will help to find out how the abundance of black-cockatoos changes across different habitats, different regions, and from year to year. In the long term, we hope to get enough information to estimate minimum population sizes for all three species of black-cockatoo across the South West.

How can I participate in CockyWatch?

CockyWatch surveys are best done when travelling with a passenger who can look out for cockatoos and enter the survey, while the driver watches the road.

To complete a CockyWatch survey using Birdata, all you have to do is:

  1.  Set your car trip odometer to zero, and start a new CockyWatch survey in the Birdata app. Record all starting details in the Survey Details section. Your start location will be captured automatically, but you will need to assign a name or description.
  2. Indicate whether you can distinguish between Carnaby’s and Baudin’s (this will determine the species options available to you)
  3. Press ‘Record Sightings’ to start your survey (and the timer)
  4. As you drive along, keep an eye out for black-cockatoos
  5. If you see a black-cockatoo/s, enter a sighting into the app – the GPS location will automatically be recorded. Follow the app prompts to record:
    • Number of black-cockatoos seen
    • The location habitat and whether the bird/s were flying, perching or on the ground
    • Estimate of the distance from the road to the cockatoos when you first saw the
  6. Save the sighting details.
  7. As you continue on your journey and see more black-cockatoos, please repeat Step 5.
  8. At any point after you’ve driven for 20km (or walked or cycled 2km), you can decide to stop surveying.

To finish:

  • Go back to survey details and enter the total distance travelled (from your trip odometer) and finish point description
  • Press Review and Submit – the app will prompt you to specify a finish point either from your map or using your current location. The app will also automatically calculate the time duration of the survey.
  • Check your data and submit the survey (even if you didn’t see any cockatoos! – this is still important information for us to capture)

This survey is being run by BirdLife Australia and has been developed in partnership with the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA).

It is presently supported by funding from the Alcoa Foundation and has been supported in the past by the Western Australian Government’s State NRM Program supported by Royalties for Regions.

Event sponsors