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February 2024 Meeting Birds on Farms

BirdLife Australia Project Coordinator, Margot Oorebeek. gave a very informative presentation about the citizen science project, Birds on Farms.

The Birds on Farms project assesses woodland bird communities in agricultural landscapes.

Since the arrival of the first European settlers, much of Australia’s woodland area has been cleared for agricultural use. Less than 10% of the original woodlands remain.

BirdLife Australia’s Birds on Farms monitoring project originally ran across southern Australia from 1995-1997, before restarting in Victoria in 2017. The types of birds detected on a farm can be an indicator of the property’s environmental health and the sustainability of agricultural practices.

The results of the more than 5,000 surveys across 300 properties show that revegetation areas support as many bird species as remnant woodland. Because the two habitat types support slightly different bird communities, the highest number of bird species was found in sites with a mix of remnant woodland and revegetation. 

A more in depth look at specific habitat characteristics shows the benefits of mistletoe and hollow-bearing trees for the woodland bird community, but also highlights the huge impact Noisy Miners are having, with 24% fewer bird species recorded in areas with Noisy Miners.

The Birds on Farms project is now using the results of the monitoring program to assist landholders in the development of Habitat Restoration Plans for their properties. 

Margot moved to Australia for her PhD, studying an avian tick in South Australia. After completion, Margot worked at the Broome Bird Observatory for two years before moving to Perth as a senior zoologist/ornithologist for an environmental consultancy After eight years she moved to Tasmania to become Regional Cat Management Coordinator for northwest Tasmania. She has now returned to her love of birds.

Margot’s talk can be viewed on OFF’s YouTube channel here. Note that the video starts a few minutes into Margot’s talk.

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