Frequently Asked Questions: About the count

What is the Aussie Backyard Bird Count? 

The Aussie Backyard Bird Count is an activity for all-ages that involves observing and counting the birds that live near you – whether that’s in your garden, the local park, a beach or even your town centre. By telling us about the birds you’ve seen within a 20 minute period, you will help BirdLife Australia develop an understanding of local birds, whilst getting to know the wildlife on your doorstep! 

Who is BirdLife Australia? 

BirdLife Australia is the nation’s largest bird conservation organisation. As an independent charity, our purpose is to stop extinctions. We have run the Aussie Backyard Bird Count since 2014, alongside our range of different programs, with the aim of protecting Australia’s birds. BirdLife Australia has been Australia’s voice for birds since 1901 and with our specialised knowledge and the commitment of our extensive network of members, volunteers and supporters we are creating a bright future for Australia’s native birds. 

Who runs the Aussie Backyard Bird Count? 

The Aussie Backyard Bird Count is run by BirdLife Australia. We are Australia’s largest bird conservation charity with the core purpose of stopping extinctions of Australia’s birds. You can read more about us on our website 

When is the 2020 Aussie Backyard Bird Count? 

The 2020 Aussie Backyard Bird Count will be held from 19-25 October 2020.  

What the difference between Aussie Backyard Bird Count and Birds in Backyards? 

The Aussie Backyard Bird Count only takes place once per year in National Bird Week, whereas Birds In Backyards runs seasonal surveys (4 per year) for you to take part in. You can find out more about Birds in Backyards here. 

Can I count birds at other times of the year? 

The Aussie Backyard Bird Count only takes place once a year, however BirdLife Australia run other surveys throughout the year that you can take part in. Birds In Backyards runs seasonal surveys that you can join in with, even if you’re not an expert bird-watcher, and there’s lots of info on how to attract more birds to your backyard! Check it out here. You can also register with our Birdata app if you want to take part in more regular bird surveys.   

How do I take part in the Aussie Backyard Bird Count? 

To complete the Aussie Backyard Bird Count, spend 20 minutes standing or sitting in one spot and noting down the birds that you see. You will need to count the number of each species you spot within the 20 minute period. For example, you might see 4 Australian Magpies, 2 Rainbow Lorikeets and a Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo. If you can identify birds by their calls, please include these in your count, but if you aren’t sure of a bird without seeing it, please exclude it rather than making a guess. The Aussie Bird Count app has a handy field-guide to help you identify birds.  

Once you have completed your count, you can submit it in two different ways: 

  1. You can submit your bird count through the online web form (this form won’t be made live until the 14 October) 

OR 

  1. You can submit your counts through the free Aussie Bird Count app. The app is available for iPhones and Android smartphones, go to the Google Play or iTunes to download the app for free. If you have the Aussie Bird Count app from previous years don’t delete it, it should update automatically with the newest version. In between event dates, the app operates as a field-guide/bird finder. 

Is the data vetted for accuracy? 

Yes! All the data we receive from the count is vetted by expert ornithologists from BirdLife Australia staff from around the country (each checking data from locations they know really well) before it is analysed, which means that any obviously wrong IDs will be caught and corrected.

We also get a lot of people sending us emails to let us know they’ve realised they made a mistake in their count, and we add these corrections to a running list of amendments that will be made to the data once the bird count is closed.

Unfortunately, the original, incorrect submissions will continue to show on the app/website as we receive too many requests to update the Sightings Map for every email we receive, but be assured that the corrected details will be included in our final results.

What happens to the Aussie Backyard Bird Count data? 

By participating in the Aussie Backyard Bird Count, you will be helping BirdLife Australia find out about the common species that live where people live. Providing us with a snapshot of Australian birds at the same time each year allows us to look at the trends in our bird communities from year to year. This is important because it’s these more common species that give us the best indication of the health of the environment – think of birds as a barometer for nature! 

Why is the Aussie Backyard Bird Count in October? 

Spring is the season when birds are more lively and visible. They begin nesting, breeding and flocking and generally appear more playful. Thousands of migrant birds return to our shores in spring as well. For these reasons it is also National Bird Week, a tradition that started back in the early 1900s when 28 October was first designated by our predecessor, the Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union, as the first ‘Bird Day’. 

I don’t have a backyard, can I still take part? 

Yes, of course! There is no defined ‘backyard’. You could count in your actual backyard, local park, school yard or other favourite outdoor space. Your backyard might be along the coast, in the middle of the desert, in a national park or on a farm. You can literally count birds anywhere – as long as you are in Australia. Consider your ‘backyard’ as any place you feel at home and you can see birds. 

Why do I need to count birds for 20-minutes? 

20-minutes is the standard period for a BirdLife Australia bird survey. Keeping in line with other BirdLife Australia bird surveys and having everyone counting for the same time means the data we receive will be more scientifically robust, allowing us to use it in our conservation efforts. If you wanted to count for one-hour, we would like you to submit three consecutive 20-minute counts. 

What are the details of the free prize draw?

You can read about the prizes up for grabs here.

I can’t find the answer to my question

If still have a question that hasn’t been answered on this page, please contact us.

Download the Aussie Bird Count app