Tanya Loos

Bird lovers! October 17-23 is the Aussie Bird Count and this year’s theme focuses on our beloved parrots.

The Rainbow Lorikeet has dominated the top ten birds seen during the count in the past nine years. This colourful and rambunctious parrot is doing very well indeed – and increasing in the area. Whether this is a good thing is debatable – Rainbow Lorikeets may take the hollows of quieter, less aggressive parrots – and hollows are generally in short supply!

Analysis of the data from the counts from 2014 to last year shows that Australian King Parrots and Red-rumped Parrots are doing rather well in Melbourne.  In recent years Daylesford, Bullarto, and  Wheatsheaf residents have been delighted to observe increasing numbers of King Parrots.

Eastern Rosellas, the wonderful multi-coloured rosella that features on the Arnott’s biscuit brand have experienced a downward trend in both rural and metro Victoria. In contrast, the vibrant scarlet and blue Crimson Rosella appears to be on the increase.

Recording sightings of these parrot species and all the other birds you see will help BirdLife Australia achieve two things: firstly to gather data on the birds that live where people live – in our backyards, bush blocks, parks, and towns, and secondly to invite a whole new cohort of folks along for the ride – the fun of counting birds for science!

Counting birds is the most wonderful mindfulness practice. When I record the birds I see and hear for twenty minutes my mind is calm and focused, enjoying a much needed brain break as I focus on birds flying overhead or bustling about in the shrubs. And we all need a bit of mental health support these days! Doing the count with a friend or relative is fun – I like counting with my mum each year.

For some inspiration, check out the wonderful bird displays at the Daylesford Bendigo Community Bank and the Daylesford Library – nice work Margie Thomas and Brian Bainbridge! To take part head to the Aussie Bird Count website to sign up: https://aussiebirdcount.org.au/

The count can be done on a computer, but it really is easiest done on the Aussie Bird Count app (available for IOS or Android). To complete the Aussie Bird Count, you simply spend 20 minutes standing or sitting in one spot and noting down the birds that you see. You will need to count the number of each species you spot within the 20 minute period. For example, you might see 4 Australian Magpies, 2 Rainbow Lorikeets and a Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo. And the app is PERFECT for beginners birdwatchers, with a fantastically helpful bird finder function that narrows down the birds it could be according to your location and the description of the bird.

The app is available for iPhones and Android smartphones. Get the app at Google Play or Apple App Store to download the app for free. If you have the Aussie Bird Count app from previous years don’t delete it, it should update automatically with the newest version. In between event dates, the app operates as a field-guide/bird finder.

For this year’s count I will be particularly looking out for Gang-gang Cockatoos – these adorable parrots need all the help they can get, and knowing where they live and breed is a good first step. Happy counting!

Tanya Loos is a local naturalist, author and environmental consultant who loves to work in the environmental not-for-profit sector. She is the author of “Daylesford Nature Diary” available from her website or from Paradise Books in Vincent Street, Daylesford.

Have you got any nature questions for Tanya? Send them in