Report on long-term urban bird study

To: "birding aus" <>
Subject: Report on long-term urban bird study
From: "Philip A. Veerman" <>
Date: Fri, 28 Mar 2003 12:28:25 +1000

Exciting news.

The second edition of my report, now entitled: "Canberra Birds: A Report on the first 21 years of the Garden Bird Survey" is now available. It is a rework and update of the "Canberra Birds: A Report on the first 18 years of the Garden Bird Survey". I think it is great, exciting, nice to look at, full of good stuff, a fitting tribute to all those who have contributed to the Garden Bird Survey (GBS). I am confident that there is enough in there to make it useful to all. The original report has now been favourably reviewed in many publications. For those who know the first version, then I suggest skip to the bottom paragraphs as the next paragraphs are based on last year's message.

This is a detailed analysis of the GBS that has been run by Canberra Ornithologists Group (COG) in Canberra, since July 1981. The report is based on the first 21 years of continuous data, from 53244 observer weeks of data, from 1316 observer years of data, from a total of 294 sites. It fully describes the survey's history and methods. It contains a detailed discussion of the literature of urban bird surveys around the world (three pages). It is a very useful reference for anyone who has ever participated in or planned a long-term volunteer based bird population survey. It addresses how observer activity affects results and the importance of habitat at the range of sites. It demonstrates observer differences in results. It details how recording rate relates to assessed abundance of birds and how the connection alters, according to the migratory and social behaviour of birds. It makes vital comparisons between results of the GBS and the COG ACT Bird Atlas. It describes frequency distribution by year at which species were recorded and found breeding. It shows how species diversity and total abundance of bird fauna varies over the year (by month). It describes how residency of birds is assessed. There are 34 Figures (graphs) and 2 data Tables in this first section. Conservation aspects are also addressed.
It also includes 40 pages of text (in standard sequence with one exception) on 165 species where the data are sufficient, on monthly patterns of abundance and/or 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 clearly set out graphs of both monthly and long-term abundance, over the 21 years, for 120 species. It includes graphs of frequency by month of each stage of breeding activity for the 18 species with the most breeding records. It includes 11 Appendices of detailed statistical and other supplementary information (statistics on occurrence and breeding of all species and statistics on all sites, plus other items) and over 150 references and a comprehensive index.
The report is 130 pages, printed in plain black with a yellow cover. It is set out to avoid blank space. Although it is in part based on the same dataset, this report includes four extra years of data and far more detailed analysis and none of the pictures that are in the book Birds of Canberra Gardens. (But it does have three original pictures) This report is very different in concept, coverage and design.
For those familiar with the first edition I'll let you know of some of the changes: I have included comment on the likely impact on birds of the recent Canberra fires, many more references especially of studies in Europe, several more species, more text, three new appendices and two extra pages of brand new graphs showing breeding chronology of 18 species. I also fixed many small errors in the previous version. One of the introductory graphs has been replaced by another that better shows a more important point. The statistical work is now better supported. The print quality is also much better as the whole document has been printed directly from the computer file (pdf), rather than mostly from scanned pages. There are also several design enhancements implemented.
As far as the information content goes in changes from the first version, if all you are interested in is a description of the survey history, methods and style of results, then there probably isn't a lot that is new (some improvements in _expression_, a better presentation and a lot more data with better statistical analysis). However it is interesting to note the trends that have developed with three more years of survey data. Generally species that showed signs of increase, decrease, consistency or inconsistency over the first 18 years have maintained the same trends with 21 years of data. Most of the parrots and small birds have continued to increase in abundance. Many of the summer migrants from northern Australia have continued to decrease in abundance. However these are only broad statements and you need to consider each species separately. There are several other events of interest. The Rose Robin and Collared Sparrowhawk have recently drastically escalated their previous increase in abundance. The Forest Bronzewing has achieved a new level of increased abundance. The Crested Pigeon has shown signs of stabilisation after increasing for the previous ten years. Several other species that were not included in the 18 year report text are now included because there is now sufficient information to make some useful comment on them.
Many of you will have the first version and I thank you for that. I am just a little hesitant about promoting another version so quickly, so in case you are wondering, I'll explain why. Firstly, I have no intention to burden people with an ongoing series of replacements (I'm not Microsoft). The simple situation is that the 18 Year Report is now sold out within one year and I am still getting requests for it. The reviews of it are starting to appear. So I needed to print more. I decided that I needed to fix a whole lot of little errors and if I am going to spend all that money to reprint it (yes I am paying for the whole thing without any financial support from anybody) then I might as well update it with the three more years of data now available. At this stage, I don’t expect to update it again, until at least another four years have passed (if at all). The COG Annual Bird Reports can handle the update role.
So the price on this report is $20.00 (costs have increased since last year), however given the above, I would be willing to contemplate a reasonable discount to anyone who has bought the previous version from me, if you would like to make such an offer. (Plus package and postage fee of $3.50 in a padded bag). Initially this will be available only from:
Philip Veerman
24 Castley Circuit
Kambah  ACT  2902
Please contact me first (preferably by email) before sending any money and to sort out any arrangements. I can also accept payment by electronic funds transfer.
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