Australian Bird Feeding and Watering Study

Silvereyes (Zosterops lateralis) enjoying an evening bath in Albany

Silvereyes (Zosterops lateralis) enjoying an evening bath in Albany

Here is a chance to practice citizen science!

As the temperatures increase and the landscape dries, our local bird populations start to come under significant pressure to find fresh water to drink and bath in. If you like attracting native birds and animals into your garden you probably have a bird bath and possibly a bird feeder. You will be pleased to know that this qualifies you to be a citizen scientist!

The Deakin University in Victoria and Griffith University in Queensland are undertaking the Australian Bird Feeding and Watering Study to investigate the impact of human contact on Australian bird diversity and abundance. One of the most common ways people interact with birds is through providing food and water.

The study is being conducted because the unknown impacts of providing food and water on bird ecology and diversity in Australia. While providing food and water to birds is a popular activity, little is known about which species are attracted to these resources and why people like to provide them. It is important to understand the ecological and behavioural effects of bird feeding as almost all information from other countries regarding bird feeding simply does not apply here. Feeding of wild birds is an important activity for large numbers of people and that the practice may be a significant way for many to connect with nature.

The Australian Bird Feeding and Watering Study aims to gather data on the effects of supplementary feeding and providing water for birds and the reasons why people provided food and/or water. The results from the study will be used to develop guidelines for people who feed birds to do so with minimum risk and maximum benefit to birds.

The first survey week is Monday 30th January to Sunday 5th February with another three surveys to be conducted during the following three weeks in February 2017.

Anyone interested in taking part in this study can sign up at the Citizen Science Database Feeding Birds page It only takes 10 to 15 minutes to register and complete the preliminary questions in preparation for the survey. So far Western Australia is lagging behind New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland in the number of people registered so there is still time to sign up!

Like the great Aussie backyard Bird Count this is a great opportunity to get involved with science and help our native birds at the same time.