The contribution of queensland birdwatchers to ornithology: How does it compare with that of other states?

Richard A. Noske

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Among the activities promoted by the original Council of the Queensland Ornithological Society (QOS, now known as Birds Queensland) in 1969 were participation in the Nest Record Scheme (NRS) of the Royal Australasian Ornithological Union (now BirdLife Australia) and involvement in bird banding studies. In this review I evaluate the contribution of Queensland birdwatchers to these two activities since 1969, and compare this with their participation in four national bird survey projects. Contrary to the aspirations of those QOS pioneers, participation in the NRS and bird banding has been poor. The number of nest records submitted in Queensland ranked fifth among the eight states and territories, and the number of participants in Queensland was second lowest. Similarly, the number of registered banders in Queensland from 1953 to 2013 ranked last and second last among all states and territories in terms of their total population and surface area. The number of birds banded in Queensland ranked third last. 

During the two national bird Atlases, Queensland was the least well surveyed of the eastern states. However, in terms of its population, Queensland's contribution was 50-70% higher than that of either New South Wales or Victoria. Similarly, adjusting for its small population, Queensland was the largest contributor of the three eastern states to Kremaca-cBird from 2010 to 2014. Projects which involved counting birds, like the Annual Bird Counts (1972-1983) and Garden Bird Surveys (1979, 1999), were popular in the early days of QOS, but today, only the small, but highly dedicated Queensland Wader Study Group conducts regular counts. Predicting the responses of birds to climate change and other human-induced impacts rely on a detailed knowledge of the timing of breeding and movements, yet such information is still lacking for the majority of land bird species in Queensland. Birdwatchers and other 'citizen scientists' offer the only hope that such knowledge will be obtained before it is too late.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-27
Number of pages13
JournalThe Sunbird
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2015
Externally publishedYes


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