Birds on Farms Winter survey

Last weekend a mate and I went out to do the Winter survey for Birdlife Australia’s Birds on Farms project. This is a citizen science project, specifically targeted at seeing how birds interact with farms of all types, and how this might be changing over time. The farm is a few hundred acres of four or five randomly sown hardwood species. The trees are getting mature now, but are about the same age so there are no large “stags” in the forest. These provide nesting hollows for lots of different birds, as well as other animals. I understand this compromises the biodiversity of the forest.

It’s also about 500 metres above sea level, and several hundred above the surrounding valleys. So, in Winter it gets cold, and not only do the seasonal migrants disappear, the altitude migrants do as well. And now we have evidence to prove it.

There are four survey points on the farm. One is right at the top of the ridge, one is near the house with its large cleared area, one is on a creek and the last is in a covenanted “land for wildlife” area. Bird species and numbers, especially the small species, were noticeably down on other seasons at all the survey points.

For small birds, we did see Fairy-wrens, Brown and Striated Thornbills, as well as hearing a few Spinebills, but the numbers we recorded were way down on other seasons.

The larger birds seemed less affected, I guess because they’re more capable of tolerating lower temperatures. We had Choughs, Grey Currawongs, Magpies and more Cockatoos than you could poke a stick at.

Of course there were no Yellow-faced Honeyeaters, they’d all gone North. However, there were a few White Eared Honeyeaters left. No surprise, as these are altitude migrating birds.

I’m looking forward to Spring.

The photo I’ve attached is an Eastern Spinebill I got on the property a while back – not this time.