Community engagement

Introduction to the Cowra Woodlands Bird Program

Wednesday, 6 September 2023

  • Estimated reading time 10 minutes

The Cowra Woodlands Bird Program (CWBP) was originally initiated by a local Cowra land owner, John Rankin, to address concerns that woodland birds were declining in rural landscapes in the Cowra district. He contacted BirdLife Southern NSW (as it has become) and scientists such as Julian Reid. A meeting with interested parties in December 2000 led to the birth of the Cowra Woodland Bird Program. The program has been volunteer-led and run. One of our stalwarts was Maret Vesk, who also volunteered for BirdLife Southern NSW. Maret died suddenly last year, and CWBP sorely misses her and her contribution.

The CWBP and its volunteer surveyors play a critical role in building our understanding of long-term population trends, especially of threatened and endangered birds.

The 94 survey sites in the Cowra area cover a range of habitats, ranging from National Parks, remnant woodland forest, cleared agricultural land, TSRs (Travelling Stock Routes), re-vegetated areas, and sites within the Cowra town region, amongst others.

Some key birds of concern include the Grey-crowned Babbler, Hooded Robin, Superb Parrot, Swift Parrot, Black-chinned Honeyeater, Diamond Firetail, Brown Treecreeper, Barking Owl and Speckled Warbler.

Some welcome news is that the CWBP organisers have started working with Birdlife Australia to improve the Birdata app. The intent is to enable better and easier management of the Cowra Program surveyors, landowners, sites, and survey weekends and allow direct entry of bird surveys into Birdata. These updates will make a big difference to the current manual system.

Secondly, at the recent Inner West Council EcoFestival, we were delighted to welcome a few new people interested in participating in the Cowra surveys. The organisers are always looking for new volunteers – and you don’t need to be an ‘expert’ to participate. All you need is a desire to make a difference, an interest in bird conservation and a pair of binoculars! Surveys have been ongoing for more than 21 years and take place each quarter.

If you are interested or would like to learn more, please email Sue Proust at sueproust@bigpond.com

*Photo of Turquoise Parrot on News page click through by Steve Cox