Thursday, 19 October 2023
Kirsty is a teacher, science communicator, and conservationist. During the week, she leads the strategy for a science-based conservation organisation. She also hosts the Weekend Birder podcast, one of Australia’s Top 30 Science podcasts that shares stories and advice from birdwatchers of all experience levels.
If this is your first Aussie Bird Count, here is Kirsty’s advice for you:
Check out Kirsty’s most recent podcast episode where she chats with comedian Geraldine Hickey.
Read our Q&A with Kirsty Costa below
What’s your favourite thing about the Aussie Bird Count and BirdLife Australia?
What I love most about taking part in the Aussie Bird Count is knowing that I’m part of a massive citizen science effort, all dedicated to collecting data for real scientific research. It’s incredible how BirdLife Australia and the fantastic bird-loving community join forces to provide evidence that shows where birds are thriving and surviving. I feel genuinely thankful for anyone who puts their hand up to be a champion for birds.
Why did you want to be an ambassador for the Aussie Bird Count?
Besides the importance of citizen science and bird conservation, I think that participating in the Aussie Bird Count is a joyous experience. Birdwatching (and bird listening) activates all the good parts of the brain that are linked with curiosity, awe, wonder and calm. I like learning new things and the Aussie Bird Count has helped me learn about the world in a different way.
How many years have you been involved with the Aussie Bird Count?
After a life-time of noticing and loving wild birds, I officially became a ‘birder’ in 2020 as a way to connect with nature and care for my mental health during lockdowns. The Aussie Bird Count was the first citizen science project I participated in and it was a game-changer. I learnt so much about my local birds and was blown away by how many different types I could find in 20 minutes.
How do you like to count birds during the Aussie Bird Count?
I seek out a sit-spot, usually in the wetlands or in a park near my home. I then settle in for 20 minutes. I use the app as I go. It’s amazing how many birds will appear if you sit somewhere quietly and for long enough.
What’s your connection to birds?
I never really thought about my family’s strong connection to birds until I got into birdwatching myself. My Papa Wal was a mad Collingwood FC supporter and had a strong love for the Australian Magpie. My Grandpa George loved his local birds, especially the Spotted Pardalote and Superb Fairywren. My parents, Mark and Merrilyn, are both keen birdwatchers and they have passed their love of birds down to me.
What is your earliest bird memory?
I was watching the sunrise over my local wetlands when a Latham’s Snipe appeared. My mind was blown when I found out that it flies from Japan to Australia each year. It takes this bird three days and 7000km to fly each way. Amazing! My story of this moment is in the latest edition of Australian BirdLife magazine and on BirdLife Australia’s website.
When it comes to identifying birds, would you say you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced birder?
I host a weekly podcast called Weekend Birder and have the privilege of talking to the amazing people such as everyday birdwatcher, scientists, farmers and artists. When I first started the podcast, I was a complete beginner. Now I’m moving into ‘intermediate’ thanks to the smarts and generosity of the birdwatching and bird-loving community.
How often do you take time out of your busy schedule to get back to nature, and enjoy birding?
In one of the latest Weekend Birder episodes, Stephanie Chambers from the Sydney Bird Club talked about lunchtime birding. I’ve been testing this out at least once a week and finding it a great way to clear my head and reset during a busy workday. I also try and reserve at least one day per fortnight to adventure in my local area or around Victoria. One of my favourite spots is Greater Bendigo National Park, where I recently saw five birds I’ve never seen before.
What are you looking forward to the most about the Aussie Bird Count?
I’ve committed to doing at least four counts this week. Because birdwatching is the best mindfulness I’ve ever experienced, I’m looking forward to feeling happy and grounded after each session. I’m also looking forward to celebrating Aussie birds and hearing about what everyone else is seeing.
What advice do you have for someone doing their first Aussie Bird Count?
Three pieces of advice from me:
1. Use the app – it makes birdwatching easier, especially if you’re new to it
2. Don’t worry about trying to identify every bird – just enter the birds that you know
3. Have fun – enjoy the wonder of birds and the new things you will discover
Known for bringing joy to our phone screens through his animations, how will Aussie Bird Count ambassador Sam Cotton be counting?
Sean Dooley recounts his 10 most memorable moments from a decade of the Aussie Bird Count
In this video, we’re learning all about Starlings – and the easiest ways to tell them apart in different seasons and at different ages.
Subscribe for the latest conservation news, upcoming events, opportunities, and special offers.