Canberra (Tribune International, Bird Life Australia/Fiftyacres, Release, 30 Nov 2020): The Aussie Backyard Bird Count saw record-breaking numbers of people heading to their backyards and local green spaces to count their local birds; counting more than 4.6 million birds across the nation, compared to 2019’s 3.4 million.
The Aussie Backyard Bird Count is quickly becoming one of Australia’s biggest citizen science events and it’s an activity that attracts counters of all ages. From 19-25 October a record number of young people took part in the count, with numbers of participating schools rising to more than 1,500.
With 2020 being full of bad news — droughts, bushfires, COVID-19 — Australians have been looking for a rainbow. And that’s exactly what they found. Unprecedented numbers of people across Australia took part in BirdLife Australia’s popular 2020 Aussie Backyard Bird Count, which took place from 19-25 October. And overwhelmingly they found Rainbow Lorikeets — more than half a million of them!
“Overall, Rainbow Lorikeets finished on top of the list throughout Australia, with more than half a million counted this year,” BirdLife Australia’s National Public Affairs Manager, Sean Dooley, said. “These colourful birds have finished on top every year since the Aussie Bird Count began in 2014.”
One of Australia’s biggest citizen science activities, this year’s Aussie Backyard Bird Count saw unprecedented numbers of people of all ages heading out into their favourite green spaces across Australia to record the birds they saw around them.
“With so many of us forced to slow down during the COVID lockdown, we suddenly became aware that birds are all around us, no matter where they are,” Mr Dooley said.
“This interest has certainly flowed into the Aussie Backyard Bird Count, with record numbers of people taking part. The Aussie Backyard Bird Count has broken the record for the number of surveys conducted and the number of birds counted.”
While participation rates rose substantially in every state, the number of counters in Victoria, which had the longest and strictest lockdown measures more than doubled.
“It really shows the importance that birds came to have in our lives this year. As our personal worlds became more restricted and quieter, birds offered a much-needed connection with the outside world and brought us a sense of solace and delight,” Mr Dooley continued.
This year’s count saw record numbers of young people taking part, with more than 1500 schools participating. More than 108,000 people took part in the count this year, and they counted more than 4.6 million birds.
Overall, the top ten species recorded in Australia in 2020 was largely the same as last year, with Noisy Miners, Magpies, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and Galahs rounding out the top 5. The Australian White Ibis finished in tenth spot.
“The information gathered during the Aussie Backyard Bird Count will feed back into BirdLife Australia’s databases and will provide a much clearer picture of what’s happening with local bird populations across the country.”
The rise of the Rainbow Lorikeet highlights the changes in Aussie backyards over the past half century, with traditional European-style cottage gardens making way for native backyards which provide the perfect place for these nectar-loving birds to forage on the flowers of eucalypts, bottle-brushes and grevilleas to harvest nectar and pollen.