Learn more about Australian Birds
I have been a member of Birdlife Australia for many decades.
I joined during the first Atlas of Australian Birds was compiled in the late 1970s and early 1980s. I contributed many hundreds of bird records to this atlas. Some years later I added many hundreds of sightings during the follow-up for the New Atlas of Australian Birds between 1998 and 2002. I continue to contribute bird sightings via their database on their website, Birdata.
There are many benefits to becoming a member, including subscription to a colourful and informative quarterly magazine. I love reading this journal every time it arrives in the mail. Membership also includes discounts on certain products and involvement in some of their projects.
One of the ongoing projects involves the Threatened Bird Network. Participants can get involved in many ways, and this can not only help you to get to know our birds better, it helps the bird species which need our help. To find out the type of projects that you can get involved with, check out their newsletters which can be downloaded to read. They also have pages dedicated to our threatened bird species. If you do not have the time, or are not able to help physically, you can always donate towards the conservation of our wonderful birds.
One feature of their website which is easily overlooked is the list of Information Sheets. This can be found near the bottom of each page. Several sheets are available to be downloaded as PDF files. They include:
- help in choosing binoculars
- attracting birds to your garden
- bird watching for beginners
In all of my birding life I have largely gone out by myself, or just with my wife and very occasionally with family such as my grand-children. Consequently, I have not been a witness to bad or questionable behaviour on the part of other birders.
I also tend to go out bush in the farming land near where I live where not many birders tend to congregate. Actually – that alone could explain why I sometimes do not get very long lists of birds observed, which could mean that I am going to the wrong spots.
Anyhow… I have just read an article in the news letter published by Birds SA. This article appeared in the August 2014 issue which indicates that I am a little behind with my reading. The then president of the association, David Paton, write in his regular letter to members an interesting article about ethical birding which is worth quoting here:
Ethical bird watching
“While bird watching, we all need to behave in ways that minimise disturbing the birds. This is particularly true in the breeding season, and many birds have already started breeding [in South Australia].
Ethical bird watching begins by first obtaining permission to be on a property and complying with any instructions from the owner or land manager.
Once on the land and watching birds one should:
- move away from any nests that are found;
- refrain from playing recordings of bird calls to lure birds in;
- limit the use of flash when taking pictures;
- respond appropriately if the birds are giving distractive displays, by moving away and not returning to the same area;
- not remove vegetation for a better view or photograph;
- think about the consequences for the birds of passing on details of rarer species or species that are nesting.
All these actions are about protecting the habitats and welfare of individual birds.”
David Paton, President, Birds SA in the August 2014 newsletter.
The above list gives plenty of wise advice on treating our birds with respect, and ways of caring for them and our environment.
For people living in Adelaide and other parts of South Australia, can I encourage you to become members of Birds SA? I have been a member now for over 35 years – somewhere I have a certificate to prove it.
For your membership your receive regular newsletters, journals, electronic updates, access to their weekly birding excursions, access to their monthly meetings and their extensive library of bird books. The monthly meetings always have interesting speakers, though I sadly don’t get to all that many meetings because of living in the country.
You can access their website here.
Gertie Galah adopts us
Strange things happen in the bird world from time to time.
Stranger things sometimes happen in my world from time to time too.
I was sitting on the back veranda reading the morning paper. I was suddenly aware of movement near my feet. I wild Galah casually walked past me, across the grass and went straight for the swamp… er… swimming pool. It leaned over looking for a drink, but the water level is just a little too low.
She continued walking around the pool to the steps. She took quite and interest in the little ramp we installed a few weeks ago to allow some Pacific Black Ducklings to get out of the water before they drowned. (Yes – baby ducklings can drown due to hypothermia and having feathers that cannot repel water. They develop water resistance after a few weeks.) Said Galah, having tested out the ramp, walks down to the water’s edge for a good drink and then back to the bricks again. She then proceeded to walk out through a gap in the fence and off through the mallee scrub at the back of our house. As she left I noticed that one wing was drooping and obviously damaged.
This morning Gertie was back – but this time she was floundering in the water. Several other Galahs had gathered on the pool edge to encourage her. She was quite soggy and I rescued her just in time. I wrapped her in a towel, put her in a cardboard box in the sun and hoped she would dry out. Within the hour she shrugged off the towel, climbed out of the box, preened her feathers and walked off towards the scrub again. This time the wing seemed to droop even more.
At lunch time she was back, sitting on the water’s edge. I managed to approach close enough to throw the towel over her and catch her, making sure her sharp beak and claws were kept away from my tender fingers. Despite her loud, squawking protestations I managed to release her in an old aviary to keep her out of harm’s way. We have stray cats and foxes in the vicinity; it’s not safe out there for a wounded Galah who can’t fly more than about a metre.
By this evening she had found the food I’ve put there for her and I hope she’ll also find the water. Even though wounded she was able to climb up the netting and find a perch.
How did she become wounded? I suspect she’s been hit by a passing vehicle. The death rate of Galahs from road kill is incredibly high. In another part of town today I saw four dead Galahs in a 50 metre stretch of road. Other possibilities include a fox, dog or cat attack while feeding on the ground, flying into a power line or even a bullet wound.
The photo above is of a free bird, not Gertie. I hope she quickly recovers so we can release her again.
Update: Gertie obviously felt better after a few days. She managed to escape from my old aviary and we haven’t seen her since.
This post was updated July 2015
Caring for orphaned birds
At this time of year many Australian species of birds are either breeding or about to breed. In the natural order of these things baby birds sometimes fall out of the nest or are orphaned for a variety of reasons. I regularly get requests for help and advice in these situations. I am sorry to say – but I have no experience or qualifications in caring for wildlife. This is best left to the trained experts. So it has been timely that Tammy, one of my readers, has made this comment on one of my earlier posts.
My name is Tammy and IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m a wildlife carer, I have been raising baby birds for years and love doing it – saving our precious native birds and animals so they can go back to the wild is an amazing feat.
IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been reading your blog and I agree that yes, it is best to leave the raising of these guys to their parents ( they do a better job) or if the baby is orphaned phone a wildlife care group nearest you. They are regularly trained each year to do this, as well as licenced by National Parks and Wildlife.
Every spring/summer I spend sometimes up to 12 hours a day feeding tiny baby birds ( all different species but mostly tiny insectivorous ones) and I really enjoy it.
About hand feeding the birds in your backyard – we usually are against this, but in times of need for instance drought, I am known to support feed some birds around our place if iÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve released them. We do this in a way that they still will learn to hunt for themselves and gradually taper off feeding times and amounts slowly so the bird does not starve.
But to do this right, you need the balanced diet that they need to keep them healthy and if you are not trained to do this the proper way, the bird becomes tame ( or imprinted) to you ( or any human being thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s around). This is bad for the bird because it will lose itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s fear of humans/ pets which results in the bird being eventually killed by a predator. ( humans, dogs, cats)
Happy bird watching – Tammy
Thanks to Tammy for this advice.
Look in your phone directory for the nearest wildlife carer. There are also many groups listed on the internet, some of them with articles outlining how to care for the bird or animal until a trained carer can get to you.
Caring for injured or orphaned birds
I frequently get asked questions about caring for injured or orphaned birds. Some people leave their questions on an appropriate page of this site, while others ask their questions privately using my contact from here.
I am no expert
I often explain to people with this questions that I am certainly no expert in this field. I have no experience and very little knowledge in looking after injured or orphaned native birds or animals. I usually try to direct them to relevant help from elsewhere.
Every state of Australia has its rules and regulations as to what members of the public can and cannot do where helping injured wildlife is concerned. As a general principle, never try to look after an injured animal or bird unless you are skilled to do so and have the necessary permission from the relevant authorities in your state.
Steps to take:
- The welfare of the animal or bird is most important: make sure that the bird is safe from further harm. Keep little children, cats and dogs away, handle it as little as possible and keep it in a strong, ventilated cardboard box.
- Contact or visit your local vet for advice. Some of my readers have been very disappointed with this course of action, stating that some vets are very dismissive and only recommend that the animal be destroyed. I find this response rather perplexing; I thought vets cared for animals.
- Use the Yellow Pages phone directory to find your nearest animal welfare and rescue organization. There are hundreds of skilled and trained carers across Australia and there is every likelihood there is one near you.
- Contact or visit your local pet shop: help coming from these people will also vary greatly. Some may be very willing to help, others only will help if there is a potential sale of goods involved.
- Visit your local library and ask for books on pet and animal care.
- Search on the internet: this is how I get so many requests for help. In some cases, people have said that this site was the ONLY place they found any information and help. That is not correct, but many people do not know how to effectively search the internet. Because of this I have prepared a list of useful Australian sites.
Useful web sites:
- Fauna Rescue of South Australia – while this is based here in SA, the information is useful throughout Australia, especially in regards to preparing food for injured animals.
- Caring for wildlife – a fact sheet produced by the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife.
- Feeding advice for magpies – a fact sheet produced by the Bird Care and Conservation Society.
- Animal Welfare League
- Australian Seabird Rescue
- Bird Care and Conservation Society – many fact sheets are available on this site.
- Wildcare Australia
- WIRES – Australian Wildlife Information Rescue and Education Service – includes contact details throughout NSW.
- Rehabilitating birds – and extensive article written by one of the experts at Healesville Sanctuary in Victoria.
Always remember that the bird’s welfare is the most important thing to consider.
Updated November 2013.