Hi everybody -
On the subject of publicity about birds, birding, bird conservation?
Birds Australia has been trying to do this for a long time. Maybe we
haven't always done it very well, but we can learn from our mistakes. At
the moment we have our Endangered Species Appeal running, and this time we
are focussing our attention more on the general public - and all those who
have never heard about us and who classify Australian birds into five
classic types (hawks, seagulls, magpies, crows and 'sparrows') - than on
our traditional members and supporters. We have sent media releases to
just about every newspaper and radio station in the country. In the last
two weeks I have spoken on radio six times, and appeared on television
once, to talk about the Appeal and to encourage people to participate in
the Atlas project - and I am not the only BA person doing this. We ARE
reaching more people, but it is a slow process. It is probably much easier
for a local bird club in a regional centre to get some publicity in their
local paper about a local project than it is for us to get national
publicity for a national project. There is just so much more competition.
With regard to awareness of the existence of bird clubs - the number of
field guides sold has been mentioned already; there must be a million or
more floating around in Australian households. All the modern field guides
(the Slaters guide apart), as far as I can see, have contact details for us
and other bird clubs. Sometimes the details are out of date, but they
should at least alert interested people to the fact that bird clubs exist,
and a little research or some surfing on the Internet searching for 'birds'
and 'Australia' will find all kinds of birdy sites, including Birding-Aus.
I agree that ten or more years ago it may have been more difficult - but it
is much easier today.
A final point. Many people still have a stereotyped and largely inaccurate
idea of what birders are like. I have found that this stereotyped view can
be a barrier to being taken seriously. The media keeps insisting on taking
photographs of people peering through binoculars at the camera and asking
questions about 'twitchers'. I try to respond (not always successfully) by
changing this perception of birders as an eccentric and out-of-touch
subculture to one of a huge range of people, covering much of the
demographic spectrum, who add value to their lives by using birding as a
key to understanding the natural environment (and incidentally getting a
lot of pleasure out of it at the same time).
415 Riversdale Road
HAWTHORN EAST 3123, Australia
Tel: (03) 9882 2622, fax: (03) 9882 2677
Web site: <http://www.birdsaustralia.com.au>
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