Get a bird’s eye view on our city’s health

Magpies are a common sight in Victoria, though not always welcome at this time of year, when they are known for aggressive swooping.

By WILL ZWAR

Stonnington locals can get ready for National Bird Week by taking part in the council’s  second annual Local Bird Discovery event tomorrow afternoon.

The free event aims to help people identify their local birdlife, just in time for the national backyard bird count, which starts on Monday.

The council’s environmental education officer Rebecca Nichols said the day would be a great introduction for locals.

“We show people what’s around them in their local area, and then it’s those skills that they can use in the count,” she said.

“It’s about building community relationships, getting people to meet other like-minded locals as well.”

The event, at the Glen Iris Wetlands, will help locals learn how to identify local bird species, and get tips on how to encourage more birds into their gardens.

Editor of Birdlife magazine Sean Dooley said the count would provide helpful data for the Aussie Backyard Bird Count and other organisations.

“The bird count is a great way to get a snapshot each year. Birds are one of the best indicators of the health of the environment,” he said.

“That’s really important because it’s easy to lose that knowledge, and so we rely on a lot of volunteers for our data.”

It helps in understand trends not only of how humans affect the wildlife, but how different species affect each other.

Last year,  the bird seen most widely across Australia was the rainbow lorikeet, Mr Dooley said.

“They are quite an aggressive species, so we need to see how they compare with other species,” he said.

In Victoria, the Australian magpie was the most common bird in 2016. 

Mr Dooley hopes backyard bird counting will encourage people to continue birdwatching.

“Being spring it’s a good time to get involved, and I think over a week, most people will get the chance to get out for one 20-minute period.”

For more information or to register for Stonnington Council’s event, visit https://aussiebirdcount.org.au/event/vic-local-bird-discovery