2020 Aussie Backyard Bird Count results

Australia counts more than 4.6 million birds in 7 days!

In its seventh year, the Aussie Backyard Bird Count saw record-breaking numbers of people heading to their backyards and local green spaces to count their local birds. Together we counted more than 4.6 million birds across the nation, compared to 2019’s 3.4 million. The Aussie Backyard Bird Count is quickly becoming one of Australia’s biggest citizen science events and it’s an activity that attracts counters of all ages. From 19-25 October a record number of young people took part in the count, with numbers of participating schools rising to more than 1,500.

Counting Rainbows

With 2020 being full of bad news — droughts, bushfires, COVID — Australians have been looking for a rainbow. And that’s exactly what they found. Unprecedented numbers of people across Australia took part in BirdLife Australia’s popular 2020 Aussie Backyard Bird Count, which took place from 19-25 October. And overwhelmingly they found Rainbow Lorikeets — more than half a million of them!

“Overall, Rainbow Lorikeets finished on top of the list throughout Australia, with more than half a million counted this year,” said BirdLife Australia’s chief bird nerd, Sean Dooley. “These colourful birds have finished on top every year since the Aussie Bird Count began in 2014.”

Unprecedented participation

One of Australia’s biggest citizen science activities, this year’s Aussie Backyard Bird Count saw unprecedented numbers of people of all ages heading out into their favourite green spaces across Australia to record the birds they saw around them.

“With so many of us forced to slow down during the COVID lockdown, we suddenly became aware that birds are all around us, no matter where they are,” said Sean, “and this interest has certainly flowed into the Aussie Backyard Bird Count, with record numbers of people taking part.”

“This year’s Aussie Backyard Bird Count has broken the record for the number of surveys conducted and the number of birds counted,” he said.

Birding under lockdown

While participation rates rose substantially in every state, the number of counters in Victoria, which had the longest and strictest lockdown measures more than doubled.

“It really shows the importance that birds came to have in our lives this year. As our personal worlds became more restricted and quieter, birds offered a much-needed connection with the outside world and brought us a sense of solace and delight,” he said.

This year’s count saw record numbers of young people taking part, with more than 1500 schools participating.

For the record, more than 108,000 people took part in the count this year, and they counted more than 4.6 million birds.

Overall, the top ten species recorded in Australia in 2020 was largely the same as last year, with Noisy Miners, Magpies, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and Galahs rounding out the top 5. The Australian White Ibis (the polarising bird also known as the Bin Chicken) finished in tenth spot.

“The information gathered during the Aussie Backyard Bird Count will feed back into BirdLife Australia’s databases and will provide a much clearer picture of what’s happening with local bird populations across the country.”

So, why are Rainbow Lorikeets ruling the roost?

The rise of the Rainbow Lorikeet highlights the changes in Aussie backyards over the past half century, with traditional European-style cottage gardens making way for native backyards which provide the perfect place for these nectar-loving birds to forage on the flowers of eucalypts, bottle-brushes and grevilleas to harvest nectar and pollen. This shows the impact that planting natives can have, head over to our gardening tips page to see which plants will attract your favourite birds.

Download the 2020 results infographic here.

Download the 2020 species list for Australia and the states/territories here.

Why we need you

Collecting a huge dataset like the one we get from the Aussie Backyard Bird Count is only possible thanks to you. The vast amount of data collected from citizen science programs like the Aussie Backyard Bird Count fills a knowledge gap, particularly on urban bird species, and gives us access to areas we usually wouldn’t be able to survey, like your backyard!

As well as helping ecologists track large-scale biodiversity trends like these, it also gives people the chance to connect with their natural environment and gain a greater appreciation of our unique fauna.

Count birds year-round

If counting birds for one week each October isn’t enough, and you’re keen to submit bird surveys year-round, you should check out our bird monitoring programs — Birds in Backyards and Birdata.

Download the Aussie Bird Count app