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Birds Australia

Country: Australia

History

Birds Australia

Birds Australia was originally "hatched" in 1901 as the Australasian Ornithologist's Union.  Their founding principles were "the advancement and popularisation of the Science of Ornithology, the protection of useful and ornamental avifauna, and the publication of a magazine called The Emu."

By 1996 the group saw the need for a catchy tag, and adopted "Birds Australia."  

BA now boasts more than 8,000 members, 25,000 supporters, eight regional groups, a reserve, two observatories, a membership magazine and a scientific journal.

Focus of Activities

"Conservation Through Knowledge" is BA's motto.  In order to protect Australia's birds and their native habitat, they recognize the need to maintain local vegetation and restore environmental health.

The work of BA is carried out by the Birds Australia Family - a group of regional and special interest groups at reserves and observatories. 

BA educates people about birds' critical role in biodiversity and how changes in the number and distribution of birds can speak to changes in environmental health.

They also recognize that people have more than just environmental reasons to love birds, and they welcome anyone fascinated by birds to pursue their interests under BA's broad umbrella. 

Notable Achievements

The organization has received the D.L. Serventy Medal for outstanding published work on birds in the Australasian region, and the John Hobbs Medal for major contributions to amateur ornithology.

BA's accomplishments date back nearly 100 years, including campaigns for the legal protection of wildlife, introduction of game laws, protection of wildlife reserves, and the banning trade of waterbird plumes (used for hat decorations in the early 20th century).

More recent achievements include:

Research

 

  • Research on threatened species, partnered with organisations such as AWC and WWF-Australia   
  • The Important Bird Areas (IBAs) project identifies sites critical for bird conservation
  • Shorebirds 2020, a partnership with Birds Australia, BA's AWSG, WWF-Australia and the Australian Government's Natural Heritage Trust, to protect and monitor shorebird numbers
  • Administration of the Threatened Bird Network, linking volunteers with on-ground, field-based conservation projects
  • Support of budding ornithologists through the administration of post-graduate student awards totalling $36,000 annually

 

Databases and data provision

 

  • The ongoing Atlas of Australian Birds - nationwide monitoring of birds from 1977-1981 and continuously since in 1998.
  • The Nest Record Scheme - tracks thousands of bird breeding records over the last century. 

 

Publications

 

  • Emu - Austral Ornithology
  • Wingspan, a membership magazine - four issues annually since 1991 Winner of several  Whitley Awards from the Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales, most recently in 2007
  • The State of Australia's Birds report summarises the status of the nation's birds and their habitats
  • The Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds

 

Advocacy

 

  • Representation on recovery teams for several threatened species
  • Consulting on policies that significantly impact birds, including windfarms, oil spills, changes to the Environmental Protection Biodiversity Conservation Act
  • Representation on the NSW Natural Resources Advisory Council.
  • Support of international efforts to protect migratory species
  • Representation of Australia at BirdLife International?

 

Education and information exchange

 

  • Gluepot Reserve demonstrates how to manage and improve semi-arid habitats. In 2007 alone, Gluepot won seven major awards in the fields of the environment, conservation and ecotourism, including Landcare and Banksia Awards
  • Gluepot Reserve and Broome Bird Observatory continue to provide an array of popular education programs
  • The new Birds Australia Discovery Centre in Sydney
  • Hosting the Australasian Ornithological Conference

 

Celebrity Supporters

Celebrity support of BA is welcome.

Governance & Financial

Birds Australia is a non-government, non-profit organization which receives support from a number of trusts, corporations, and foundations.  A number of Birds Australia's projects have received funding from the Australian Government's Caring for our Country program.

Regions / countries which benefit

All of Australia benefits from protecting birds and their native habitats.

How to donate

At the Birds Australia website, you can find out more about how to get involved through paid memberships, donations, or volunteering in the field, at observatories and reserves, or in one of the BA offices.

 

References

  • http://www.birdsaustralia.com.au/
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Australasian_Ornithologists_Union

Further Reading

  • Robin, L. (2001) The Flight of the Emu: A Hundred Years of Australian Ornithology 1901–2001. Melbourne University Press, Melbourne
  • Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds. Oxford University Press, Melbourne
Submitted by Petra Mayfair on May 14, 2009