Results of a long-term bird study available

To: "birding aus" <>
Subject: Results of a long-term bird study available
From: "Philip A. Veerman" <>
Date: Fri, 22 Mar 2002 12:00:37 +1000

I invite your interest in the following: Have you ever contemplated keeping a record of the birds that occur around your house or workplace? Have you ever taken part in a large-scale long-term volunteer bird population survey? Maybe you wish to start one and find out the sort of processes involved. Do you want to know a proven way to do it? Do you want to know how long it takes to have a good idea of the bird species present in an area? More importantly, are you interested in how to assess when you know that you have a good idea of the bird species present in your area. Do you want to find out about how the information available from a long-term bird population study differs from a short-term study? The difference is very much more than just time and effort! What about exploring the relationship between the population abundance of each species and its recording rates (as in what proportion of surveys record a species). This is a vital issue involved in interpreting any bird atlas style of data. Even deeper, how are these factors related to the social behaviour of a species. Even deeper still, what about how these things change over the year, due to migration, display behaviour, breeding and other aspects. Are you interested to know which set of species has the most stable and which has the most variable populations from one year to the next, out of long-distance migrants, altitudinal migrants and residents. What about how to assess the residency of birds from long-term data, so as to show long the bird fauna stays in your area. Would you like to be able to find out the annual patterns by month of total bird abundance of all species or of each species individually in an area and the monthly patterns of species diversity in your area. Are you interested in information on timing and duration of breeding by many bird species. What about detailed schedules of arrival times and departure times of migrant species. Or the proportions of count records at which the species was breeding and totals of these either by year or by species as well as trends in these features over the years.

There are plenty of conjectures and impressions floating around about changes in bird populations but you may be interested to see a set of information about real trends in bird populations, based on the first 18 years of a continuous and still ongoing volunteer survey the Garden Bird Survey (GBS) that has been run by Canberra Ornithologists Group (COG) since July 1981. The facts are not always what the conjecture suggests.

All these phenomena are addressed in detail in my long-awaited report: "Canberra Birds: A Report on the first 18 years of the Garden Bird Survey". This is now available. The report is 128 pages in length, printed in plain black. It is compactly set out, avoiding blank space. It is a detailed analysis of the GBS. The report is based on the first 18 years of continuous data, from 46273 observer weeks of data, from 1151 observer years of data, from a total of 277 sites. It fully describes the survey's history and methods. Although it is in part based on the same dataset, this report includes an extra year of data and far more detailed analysis and none of the pictures that are in the book Birds of Canberra Gardens. This report is very different in concept, coverage and design. I think it is exciting, full of good stuff that has never appeared before, at last a fitting tribute to all those who have contributed to the GBS.

It is vastly more than just a detailed study of the birds of Canberra since 1981. It addresses all the above issues, also how observer activity affects results and the importance of habitat at the range of sites. It demonstrates how the quantity of bird species present impacts on observer commitment to continuation of the survey from year to year. It demonstrates observer differences in results. It details how observer effort relates to number of species recorded but not to bird abundance. It makes vital comparisons between results of the Garden Bird Survey and the Canberra Ornithologists Group’s ACT Bird Atlas. Conservation aspects are also addressed. It also includes 41 pages of text on 163 species, where the data are sufficient, on monthly patterns of abundance and long term trends in abundance, such as increases, decreases and stability. Also timing and duration of all stages of breeding is given (if recorded). Monthly patterns are interpreted relative to migration, changes in habitat use over the year, seasonal changes in behaviour and breeding. It includes 15 pages of graphs of both monthly and long-term abundance, over the 18 years, for 120 species. It includes 20 pages of 8 Appendices of detailed statistical and other supplementary information (statistics on occurrence and breeding of all species and statistics on all sites, plus other items) including 149 references and a comprehensive index.

This price on this report is $19.00 (plus package and postage of $3.50) and will be available only from:

Philip Veerman
24 Castley Circuit
Kambah ACT 2902

(02) 62314041 email address:

Please contact me first (preferably by email) before sending any money (cheque or money order made out to Philip Veerman.

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