Did you know the types of birds detected on a farm can be an indicator of the property’s environmental health and the sustainability of agricultural practices?!
On the 18th of April, Anna and Annabelle from the Sus Ag team collaborated with Birdlife Australia to deliver a fun and informative Birds on Farms Afternoon event in Coorow. Attendees, including farmers, local government, and passionate bird enthusiasts, joined us to learn all about our beautiful local birds! Ines and Tegan from Birdlife Australia brought a wealth of knowledge of all things birds, including how to complete a bird survey, the benefits birds have on farms, how to improve bird biodiversity, and their reinstated Birds on Farms project. Here are some things we learnt:
The benefits of bird biodiversity on agriculture properties include:
- Birds tell us about the environment – seasonal changes and resource availabilities.
- They have roles on farms:
- Predators (eg. of mice): Wedge-tailed Eagle, Brown Falcon, Grey Butcherbird.
- Clean-up crew: Australia Raven, Australia Magpie, Whistling Kite.
- Insect control (reducing the need for pesticides): Grey Fantail, Red-capped Robin, Purple-backed Fairy-Wren.
- Seed dispersal: Emu, Carnaby’s Black-Cockatoo, Galah.
- Pollinating plants: Red Wattlebird, Honeyeaters. Seed dispersal and pollination are essential in helping remnant patches and revegetation expand and stay healthy.
Tegan and Ines also explained how we could increase bird numbers and biodiversity on agricultural properties with some bird-friendly management practices:
- Increasing bird habitats and food sources through native revegetation or improving native remnant patches.
- Fencing around vegetation to protect nesting birds from livestock trampling.
- Minimising grain spillages to reduce numbers of pesky bird species. Pesky species compete with beneficial birds.
- Avoid or reduce rodenticides.
- Fencing off dams and improving vegetation around dams (including adding logs) for water availability and shelter.
- Pest management of introduced predator species (feral cats, foxes etc.).
Farms and rural properties cover large parts of the Australian landscape. Managing this land in a way that benefits birds and their habitats can also see benefits to farm productivity through helping combat issues that flow on from climate change, historic habitat loss and fragmentation, feral animals and drought.
The group finished the afternoon with a field trip to a beautiful local property in Waddy Forest. Fiona and her family have been regenerating this property since the 1990s through revegetation and fencing off remnant patches. This has made an amazing difference in reducing erosion and salinity effects, while also noticing an improvement in wildlife habitat! Fiona was originally involved in the Birds on Farms project in the 90s. It will be amazing to see how the hard work improving her property has influenced the change in the numbers and species of birds after three decades!
Ines and Tegan demonstrated to the group how to complete a habitat assessment and bird survey, which are elements of the Birds on Farms project. As the Birds on Farms Project Coordinator at Birdlife Australia, Ines showed attendees how to select sites for bird surveys, the benefits of surveying birds on their properties and how they can get involved in the citizen science project. The Birds on Farms project assists rural landholders to identify, appreciate and manage birds and their habitats on their properties.
The group spotted Weebils, Spiney-cheeked Honeyeaters and White-fronted Honeyeaters in Fiona’s remnant vegetation. It was exciting to see some beneficial pollinators!
To find out more about Birdlife Australia’s Birds on Farms project visit: https://birdlife.org.au/projects/birds-on-farms/
And for anyone wanting to register in WA, please see here: https://survey123.arcgis.com/share/25dfbec9162943c381a526a36ad62d64?fbclid=IwAR1yIUbMuUHsE9iPXu3Oyr3o60je3CBH1r9KYBG9SugWpwwZ0mLAbcKBzGE
A big thank you to Tegan and Ines for sharing your awesome knowledge and getting us egg-sighted for future bird watching and improving our management practices! And thank you to Coorow CRC and Fiona for making us feel very welcome in Coorow.
Resources for bird ID and surveys:
This event was supported by NACC NRM and the Growing Great Ground project, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.