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Cooee for bird nerds

By Country News

Bird conservationists have sent out a ‘‘cooee’’ for all Australians to pop their peepers on our feathered friends during the Aussie Backyard Bird Count.

The fifth annual National Bird Week tally, starting on October 22, calls on people to log their sightings of birds in a specially designed app. Researchers are aiming to top two million responses.

Chief bird nerd Sean Dooley says scientists know surprisingly little about Australia’s most common birds because most research is directed towards threatened and declining species.

It is important to know what is happening to the populations of common birds as they are good indicators of the health of the environment, he said.

‘‘If we can pick up trends with what’s happening with our most common birds it’s a really good gauge of how well our local ecosystems are doing,’’ Mr Dooley said last week.

Researchers are also keen to understand if the drought has driven birds searching for food and water into urban areas.

Last year, backyard birdwatchers recorded more than 578 species, with the rainbow lorikeet, noisy miner and Australian magpie remaining Australia’s most counted birds.

More than 1.9 million birds were counted by 72000 nature-lovers, Mr Dooley said.

Participants were also encouraged to record the birds they see at the beach, park or in their schoolyards.

‘‘It’s a great way to connect with nature in your own environment, literally on your doorstep,’’ Mr Dooley said.

‘‘There’s a hidden bird nerd in all of us waiting to get out.’’

■The Aussie Bird Count app helps people identify local birds based on size, shape, colour and location. It is available from: aussiebirdcount.org.au