Bird Databases

To: ausbird <>
Subject: Bird Databases
From: "Hicks, Roger" <>
Date: Wed, 26 Nov 1997 14:59:00 +1000

Bird Databases :

1) I agree there is a need for central repositories for bird data which
can then be used as required for conservation issues. However, I feel
there is also a need to publish a summary of the data collected -
possibly in the form of an annual report? I do not know if this already
occurs, but in my short stay in Australia have not seen anything. This
would serve several purposes

a) it shows the contributors that their data is being put to some use
and is not collecting dust;
b) it gives any researchers a summary of available data and a good
starting point;
c) it publicises the databases - I would not have heard ot the wetland
database except for  your email and I had asked numerous people where to
send my observations.

2) In the UK such databases seem to belong to the national bird
organisations such as the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), Royal
Society for the Protection of Birds and Wildfowl and Wetland Trust.
Birds Australia (RAOU) is probably more akin to the BTO and runs similar
surveys such as the nest record scheme where the body of amateur
bird-watchers collect data which is subsequently analysed by the
professionals. Some of these surveys are funded by various government

However, there are also the local bird clubs which sometimes maintain
similar databases. Often these clubs are based on a county or other
easily defined unit. The national bird atlases in the UK are based on
the 10 km grid of the Ordnance Survey maps and there is one bird club
(in Nottinghamshire, I think)  that concentrates on one 10km square. One
thing that all these 'local' clubs have in common is that all strive to
produce an annual report covering the birds seen in 'their' area.
Members and visitors are encouraged to submit records from which the
annual report is compiled. This can result in under-recording of
commoner species which can be overcome by appeals for more data on
commoner species or organising common bird surveys.

The Geelong Field Nats produce a similar annual report but I have not
seen any others. I regularly visit Altona Coastal wetlands and Truganina
Swamp in western Melbourne but there seems to be nowhere I can send my
general observations. After only 18 months in the country I do not think
my observations merit a paper on their own but with others from nearby
areas could/would add up to something worthwhile.  A lot of valuable
data must be lost because there is no readily available outlet.

This seems to be something of a blackhole in Australian
bird-watching/ornithology and something local bird clubs could address.

all the best


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Roger Hicks                     Tel :   03-9369-6023 (home)
4 Hakea Court,                          03-9865-8613 (work)
Altona Meadows  
Victoria 3028                   E-mail: 
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