Celebrate National Science Week with BirdLife Australia

Tuesday, 15 August 2023

  • Estimated reading time 8 minutes
August 12‒20 is National Science Week, Australia’s annual celebration of science and technology. This year’s theme is Innovation: Powering Future Industries.

Science is the foundation of BirdLife Australia’s bird conservation work – and for over 120 years we’ve been leading the way in the scientific study of Australia’s birds.

But the world of science looks very different today than it did in 1901! BirdLife Australia’s staff, members and supporters have documented much of what we know about Australia’s native birds, the threats they face and how to address them. We are no longer in an information crisis, but an extinction crisis – and our scientists study birds so that we can protect them. Now, we study the living so that we can keep them alive.

To better understand birds, our scientists use the least invasive means possible – like banding, counting and fitting birds with transmitters. We track changes in bird populations and use this data to guide and support our work helping declining populations recover, so that we aren’t just counting them into extinction.

For decades, the data we’ve collected through our conservation, research and citizen science programs has helped chart and shape national and local environment policy and driven conservation decision-making at all levels.

We use rigorous scientific methodology and tried and tested conservation methods to identify priority sites and species and their threats – while finding new, creative and innovative ways to save birds and restore their habitat, like our world-first mistletoe direct seeding project.

But that doesn’t mean that only scientists can make a difference in protecting Australia’s birds – we all can! 

Here are some ways you can get involved with BirdLife Australia’s bird conservation projects around the country this National Science Week and beyond:

  1. Become a Citizen Scientist
  2. Join a BirdLife Australia Event
  3. Study up – in the name of bird conservation

Become a Citizen Scientist

Citizen science is key when it comes to our bird conservation programs, and our citizen scientists help us efficiently monitor birds on a scale we couldn’t achieve alone. The data collected by these volunteers is invaluable for modelling population trends, identifying Key Biodiversity Areas, determining the breeding success of threatened species and monitoring and addressing the impact of threats like habitat destruction and bushfires – and more!

Just this year, our citizen scientists have joined us in searching, counting and listening for birds, including threatened species like the Regent Honeyeater, Australasian Bittern, Swift Parrot, Gang-gang Cockatoo and more. If you want to help us help birds, become a citizen scientist today!

Get surveying with Birdata

We can’t protect what we don’t know – and that’s where Birdata comes in. 

Surveys logged on Birdata, our national bird monitoring program and database, help us track changes in bird populations over time – providing an invaluable insight into how birds are faring. This important data helps us understand population declines, and has contributed to several birds being listed as in danger on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 

Since 1998, thousands of contributors have logged over 22 million bird records – which all help our scientists identify and better understand and protect Australia’s birds.

Sign up and submit bird surveys of your own here, and find out how by watching the video below.

Help listen for bitterns

To the right of the screen, an Australasian Bittern peers above a field of green, raising its head above the rice crop.
Australasian Bittern in rice by Warren Chad

If you’re a good listener and know your bitterns from your banjo frogs, this one’s for you!

Our Wetland Birds team are listening for the booming calls of the elusive and Endangered Australasian Bittern in wetlands across south-western Victoria and WA and south-eastern SA – and they need your help finding them.

They’re looking for more citizen scientists who can help sort through thousands of hours of audio files and identify the species calling, as part of our Wetlands Soundscapes Project. Results from this bio-acoustic monitoring work are logged in Birdata, and help our team identify, monitor and protect new wetlands and priority conservation areas for the Australasian Bittern.

Volunteers can be based anywhere, and we’ll train you in how to use the bio-acoustics analysis platform Arbimon. All you need is a computer, an internet connection and a good ear!

Find out more and register your interest here.

Volunteer for Birds on Farms

A Galah plays with a grass seed on the ground against a blurred brown and green background.
Galah by Shelley Pearson

Our Birds on Farms project is BirdLife Australia’s fastest growing program. Our team partner with landholders across the country to learn more about birds and their habitats on private rural properties, and use this information to conserve and protect woodland birds.

The Birds on Farms team are looking for experienced birdwatchers to conduct regular standardised bird surveys on private properties across rural southern Australia. This data provides an invaluable insight into the health of bird populations and habitat use on private land.

Our team support landholders in planning and implementing appropriate habitat management on their properties – to protect local woodland birds and their habitats and help their populations recover. We’re also looking for landholders who are interested in allowing us to conduct surveys on their properties, or who are experienced birdwatchers that can undertake surveys on their own properties.

Participants can get involved in a range of activities including developing tailored habitat plans, regular bird surveys and site visits, training workshops and educational events.

To find out more, including how to register your interest as a volunteer or landholder, click here..

Join us on the beaches

If you live near the coast, volunteering with BirdLife Australia’s Beach-nesting Birds team is a great way to support community conservation efforts and help us protect and better understand  threatened shorebirds like the Hooded Plover and Fairy Tern.

You choose which level of commitment works for you, whether it’s once a week or an annual population count ‒ and we welcome volunteers of all ages and experiences. You can volunteer in breeding site monitoring and protection, shorebird education and engagement and more.

Find out more about our Beach-nesting Birds Program and how you can get involved.

To the right of the frame, a tiny speckled Red-capped Plover chick runs across the sand with its long legs against a pale beach background.
Red-capped Plover chick by Rachel Debels

Report a Regent!

It’s breeding season for the Critically Endangered Regent Honeyeater, and we need your help finding them!

To the left of the frame, a black and gold coloured Regent Honeyeater perched on a twig with coloured leg bands visible.
Regent Honeyeater by Mick Roderick

Alongside Australian National University (ANU), BirdLife Australia conducts the National Regent Honeyeater Monitoring Program. This mammoth project covers the Regent’s breeding range, from north-east Victoria all the way to south-east Queensland – collecting important data on where these highly-mobile birds are and how their population is faring.

With a wild population of as little as 250 birds, this data is critical in informing our ongoing work helping the Regent Honeyeater recover. And if you’re lucky enough to see one of Australia’s rarest species, you can help – by reporting any sightings using this form.

Find out more about our Regent Honeyeater conservation work.

Three men wearing blue shirts and grey pants and carrying binoculars, a camera and an antenna. They're standing among the spotted gum-ironbark forests of the Tomalpin Woodlands, tracking Regent Honeyeaters.
Our Woodland Birds team tracking Regent Honeyeaters in the field. Image courtesy of Alex Pike, DPE
Find more volunteer and citizen science opportunities at BirdLife Australia.

Join a BirdLife Australia event

Register for the Great Glossy Count!

If you’re based in eastern Australia, register for our upcoming Great Glossy Count on 9‒10 September!

As part of our South-eastern Glossy Black-Cockatoo Project, this citizen science event collects important data on the Vulnerable South-eastern subspecies of Glossy Black-Cockatoo and their feeding habitat. It’s held across their range – in south-eastern QLD, the ACT and eastern NSW and Vic.

To take part, simply spend at least an hour during the count weekend exploring your selected survey site and recording Glossies and their feed trees. This data informs bushfire recovery planning and helps us identify, protect and restore Glossy feeding habitat.

Our team will also provide training materials, including guidance on identifying Glossies and she-oaks and safe data collection.

To the left of the frame, a Glossy Black-Cockatoo is perched in a she-oak tree, feeding on the seeds.
Glossy Black-Cockatoo by John Barkla

Ready, Set, ReWild!

Clear your calendars – we’re co-hosting a festival!

If you’re in Perth, come to Ready, Set, ReWild! – an upcoming community festival at Murdoch University from 10AM on Saturday 2 September. Connect with people, nature and culture and celebrate WA’s amazing flora and fauna with stalls, workshops, markets, guided walks, hands-on activities talks and more. It’s fun for the whole family, and you’ll learn practical ways to help the birds around you with our Urban Birds Team.

Book your tickets today.

For more BirdLife Australia events and activities, click here.

Study up – in the name of bird conservation

Watch our Birds in Backyards webinars

Our Urban Birds Program is a research, conservation and education driven program, engaging Australians with their local bird populations and addressing the threats they face.

If you want to find out more about birds in Australia’s towns and cities and how you can help make our urban spaces more bird-friendly, tune in to our Urban Bird team’s monthly educational Birds in Backyards webinar series.

Register for our Gang-gang Cockatoo course

To the left of the frame, a grey female Gang-gang Cockatoo with red scalloped plumage is perched in a hawthorn tree, gripping a berry with her foot and bill.
Gang-gang Cockatoo by Jason Shackleton

Love Gang-gangs? Want to help protect them? We’ve got you covered!

These much-loved birds were recently uplisted to nationally Endangered, but now’s your chance to contribute to their conservation by taking part in our free educational course – part of BirdLife Australia’s Gang-gang Cockatoo Recovery Project.

Registrations for our online Gang-gang Cockatoo Edu-Action course are now open to anyone in Australia.

Take the course and you’ll learn everything you need to know about Gang-gang ecology and behaviour, including:

  • How to collect important data
  • How to record Gang-gang sightings, and
  • How to develop your own Action Plan to help Gang-gangs in your area.

You can also connect and share knowledge with other course participants!

The 2023 project will run from August to October.

Some other ways you can celebrate National Science Week by helping birds include: