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The Bird Emergency

Author: Grant Williams

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Birds are rapidly disappearing from all around us. Habitat reduction, climate change, pesticides, invasive pests and many more factors are causing the reduction in the numbers of all species, and more species face the increased threat of extinction.

The species and the people fighting to understand the reasons for the reductions in bird populations will be highlighted, along with research and practical efforts to arrest the decline. Meet the people at the coalface and learn about their projects, and about them.
54 Episodes
Grant is joined by Tegan Douglas, Citizen Science Project Coordinator, BIrdlife Australia, Western Australia, to promote the upcoming Aussie Backyard Bird Count for 2021, and go over the highlights of the 2020 count last year. Are there any surprises?  Significant results? Important trends? Find out in this episode. Register for this year's count, check out the results and highlights from previous counts, and download the App at the Aussie Backyard Bird Count website. Get a stack of useful information at the Birds In Backyards website. Follow The Bird Emergency on Twitter @birdemergency or Instagram @thebirdemergency  If you enjoy the show, how about share with your friends or colleagues? Or you can review us at
When is it important to study a population of birds?  Ryan Carter from Edith Cowan University in Perth, in Western Australia, is undertaking a Masters, studying the Abrolhos Painted Button-quail (or Buttonquail - depending on the last reference read!) The IUCN lists the Painted Button-quail as Least Concern, but there are some thoughts that the isolated Houtman Abrolhos population may be significantly distinct from the mainland population, as to warrant far more attention for conservation management. Ryan is looking for the elusive, secretive birds on 3 islands in the Houtman Abrolhos achipelago, between 60 - 80 km off the coast of Western Australia, near Geraldton.  See the map below for some perspective. Hear how Ryan is undertaking his research, and how he manages to collect significant data in a remote, inhospitable location.   Follow The Bird Emergency on Twitter @birdemergency or Instagram @thebirdemergency  If you enjoy the show, how about share with your friends or colleagues? Or you can review us at
Fotography Friday has come around again, and joining Grant and Ewen Bell this time is Conservation, Science & Nature media creator, Nicolas Rakotopare, who is based in the northern Australian state of Queensland. His work focuses on documenting science and nature, bringing stories of science, conservation and nature to a general audience through all the channels available today. Nicolas has a degree in Ecology and Conservation Biology and grew up in Madagascar. He has been based in Australia for over a decade and was the science communication and media specialist for the Threatened Species Recovery Hub (before it ceased to be!) and also works on other projects for NGOs, magazines, research institutions as well as eco-tourism content creation. Here is the list of the gear that Nicolas usually carries in the field; Canon EOS 1DX2 CANON EF 24-70 F/4 CANON 16-35 F/4 CANON 300 F/2.8 extenders. You can find some really lovely shots from Nicolas on his website, not limited to his work with birds at Follow Nicolas on Twitter - @le_rako And still more great images from Nicolas on Instagram @lerako Check out Ewen's latest work on his website And keep up with his offerings on Twitter @ewester Follow The Bird Emergency on Twitter @birdemergency or Instagram @thebirdemergency 
What are the chances that the avian world will suffer a pandemic? Topical, I know!?!! Well, the best way to find out more about that is to ask a scientist who specialises in avian diseases, and that person is Michelle Wille, who knows just about everything there is to know about Avian influenza. In this episode I try to keep up with her! Michelle has worked on Mallards in the Northern Hemispere, but is now at the University of Sydney, and putting some energy into Australia's waders when she is not in the lab. MIchelle explains what avian influenza is, how is occurs in wild populations, and deals with my anxiety about pandemics! Visit Michelle's website to learn a lot more about Michelle and Avian viruses - Michelle has one of the best Twitter handles - follow @duckswabber Follow The Bird Emergency on Twitter @birdemergency or Instagram @thebirdemergency 
In this episode, I am joined my Kevin Burgio, PhD, to discuss the rapid decline and eventual extinction of the Carolina Parakeet, the only endemic parrot of continental North America. Kevin has been using historical records to examine the known rages of both sub-species of this parrot and shed some light on why this bird declined so rapidly. Hopefully some lessons can be learned from his work to prevent future losses. Follow Kevin on Twitter @KRBurgio and check out the NYC chapter of the Audubon Society. Follow The Bird Emergency on Twitter @birdemergency or Instagram @thebirdemergency  Just for a bit of fun, here's Looking For Lewis and Clarke, by the Long Ryders,  as discussed by Grant and Kevin
In this episode, you will hear the discussion I had with Dr. Holly Parsons, the Urban Bird Program Manager, BirdLife Australia, which encompases the Birds In Backyards program and Dr. Maggie J. Watson, Lecturer at Charles Sturt University, specialist in parasites and other disorders in birds and other wildlife, who has an interest in rodenticides. We tackle the issues around pest control in a domestic setting, and in broadscale production systems, identifying the ingredients in different products, and what are the preferred choices to make.  In summary, remember First Generation rodenticides. The discussion was wide ranging - we tackled a lot of pest control issues. Here's the link we referred to for letting the Federal Environment Minister know something; Here is the link for biodiversity sensitive Urban Design, mentioned by Holly (look out for more about this in future episodes of the show); We wandered onto mistletoe and tree health, so here is a link to a story about that; And a little more about mistletoe, from ABC Gardening Australia; And we even talked about Emus, so meet Dr Dave.... I know you will love Dr Dave Follow Maggie on Twitter @terngirl Follow Holly on Twitter @backyardbirdo or Birds In Backyards @birdsinbackyards Follow Grant and the show on Twitter @birdemergency
Australia has a famous lyrebird, the one everyone has seen in the David Attenborough shows, imitating all manner of man-made sounds and the sounds of the forest it lives in. But, there is a lesser-known lyrebird, which is equally gifted with vocal talents, and has a stunning display, which takes place in the subtropical forests in the border region of New South Wales and Queensland. Seldom seen, Albert's Lyrebird is giving up some of it's secrets to intrepid researcher, Fiona Backhouse, who is attempting to learn more, to ensure the encroachment of housing and other development does not lead to it's demise. Follow The Bird Emergency on Twitter @birdemergency or Instagram @thebirdemergency 
Formerly known as the Monkey-eating Eagle, the Philippine Eagle is large, imperious eagle of the remote forests of The Philippines. Sadly, it is clinging to a meaningful existence only through the assistance of a dedicated team throught the Philippine Eagle Foundation, based in Davao, on the island of Mindinao. I was fortunate to have a conversation with Jayson Ibanez, Director of Research and Conservation, with the Foundation. Jayson has an interest in indigenous studies, which has informed his conservation work and he has a significant connection to Australia.  I hope you learn as much about this fabulous raptor as I did. The Philippine Eagle Foundation has a really good website, and if you want to read a lot of aticles, there are plenty here to dive into - If you can, consider supporting the efforts of the Foundation to study and protect the Philippine Eagle. Jayson is on LinkedIn and Twitter @falcon2car Follow The Bird Emergency on Twitter @birdemergency or Instagram @thebirdemergency 
We are talking photography, bird photography again, and how Christy Bharath snaps the birds in an urban fringe in India with a consumer level camera. He takes great smnaps, and we learn about the birds seen in an urban setting in one corner of India. Discover Christy on Twitter @contentbirder Check out Ewen on Twitter @ewester and the hashtag #blirbs Follow The Bird Emergency on Twitter @birdemergency
The Gouldian Finch is one of the most desired cage birds in the world. Inhabiting northern Australia, in the tropical savannah habitat, it has been under intense pressure for many decades, first as trapping to supply the cagebird market, and then as habitat has been cleared for agriculture, and now the changed fire regimes pose a severe threat to these remote populations. A further issue is the reduction in the availability of suitable hollows as nest sites, as the Gouldian Finch is very fussy in this regard. Meet Leigh-ann Woolley from WWF, and hear about her work, and the support WWF is giving to try to maintain this species in the wild, in Australia's Top End. If you can, support the efforts that WWF are making to protect the Gouldian Finch.
Here is the terrific panel discussion live streamed earlier this week, discussing all the issues around the loss of hollows for wildlife, and the various methods to provide artificial hollows for birds and other wildlife. You can hear Dr Holly Parsons, Manager of the Urban Birds program at Birdlife Australia (@BirdsInBackyards), Mick Callan from Habitech Australia (@HabitechA), Dan Fuller, host of the Plants Grow Here Podcast (@PlantsGrowHere) and Grant Williams (@birdemergency)
As we see more and more habitat being lost, replaced by new housing developments, new and wider roads, expansions to agriculture and industry, one critical part of the habitat tapestry is being lost, and takes many, many decades to be replaced by revegetation efforts.  Those crtical things are hollows. MIck Callan has been researching what could be produced to adequately replace these living spaces for wildlife. Hear Mick discuss the development of the artificial hollows he has developed, and what he hopes can be achieved in the future with the Habitech hollow. Check out the latest on the development of Mick's hollows at Habitech Australia on Facebook, Instagram or follow Mick on Twitter.
Here is a bonus for you! This is the Live Stream event/panel/seminar (whatever you want to call it) that took place on Monday July 5th, featuring Dr. Holly Parsons, the manager of the Urban Birds program at Birdlife Australia. You may know it as Birds in Backyards.  Dan Fuller, the host of the Plants Grow Here podcast is here too, and the discussion is directed by Grant Williams, host of The Bird Emergency. The key points discussed and where to get the Flowering Calendars mentioned in the show will be available on The Bird Emergency website later in the week. Birds In Backyards Plants Grow Here
Chris MacColl has been unlocking the secrets of the elusive Red Goshawk in northern Queensland and across the Top End of Australia. The work has involved trapping these fearsome-looking raptors and fitting them with harnesses, fitted with GPS transmitters, and analysing the movements of the birds over an entended period of time. Since Chris and I had our conversation, the team have managed to trap male birds, and have harnesses fitted, so they are closer than ever to unlocking to mystery that has been the movement of both sexes in the non-breeding season. Chris explains the methodology of the study, and what secrets the team hope will be unlocked as a result of the data collected and the lengthy observations made in the field. You can follow Chris on Twitter and check out the latest on the Red Goshawk Project @CMacColl Also, have a look at the other partners in the project;  Australian Wildlife Conservancy - website and Twitter @awconservancy Rio Tinto Weipa QLD Dept of Environment and Science and University of Queensland - Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Follow The Bird Emergency on Twitter @birdemergency or Instagram @thebirdemergency     
Trying something a little different, because a huge part of protecting birds, and their habitat, is for people to know and love birds more! That's where photography comes into it... I will be talking to people who love taking pictures of birds, and Ewen Bell will deliver some technical and practical tips. Today it is James who enjoys the birds that visit his birdbath. Follow James on Twitter @sydneybirdbath (He has now moved north to Coffs Harbour, so there's a whole new birdbath to talk about! It's also worth following Ewen on Twitter @ewester to discover new bird content. #BirdPhotography #TwitterNatureCommunity
Dimas Gianuca works with Birdlife Marine and the RSPB collaborating with everyone comprising the Albatross Task Force to protect the albatross species (and all of the seabirds) that visit the waters of Brazil to feed on the rich bounty that can be found as a result of the currents directed from the deep Southern Ocean. Dimas explains that seabirds are abundant in Brazil, and the extensive coastline comprises a surprising variety of habitats and far more birds than the jungle dwellers that often spring to mind when you think about Brazil.   Hanging flags in an effort scare seabirds away from vessels is mandatory in many fisheries, and is used in conjunction with line weighting techniques, devices such as the Hookpod and setting lines at night to reduce seabird casualties. Ever wondered what an Albatross Task Force Inspector would look like, while carrying out their role at sea, aboard a fishing vessel? The danger of albatross, being killed as bycatch (and seabirds generally) is obvious when you see how they gather in large numbers around fishing vessels seeking the discarded waste. All photos courtesy of Dimas Gianuca. Copyright is his. You can follow Dimas on his socials;   Get lots and lots of information about the partnership between RSPB and Birdlife International - Albatross Task Force here   Follow Albatross Task Force on Twitter.    
Grupo de Ecología y Conservación de Islas and Pacific Rim Conservation are involved in an effort to ensure the survival of the Black-footed Albatross in the northern Pacific Ocean, conducting a tranlocation of the species to restored islands, after extensive pest control and revegetation efforts on suitable islands off the Mexican coast and the US territories, including Hawaii and Midway Atoll. A truly massive undertaking, and multi-agency cooperative effort! For World Albatross Day 2021, meet Federico Mendez from GECI Conservacion de Islas and Dr. Lindsay Young, Executive Director of Pacific Rim Conservation. The graphic above gives an idea of the scale of the project. The use of decoys encourage birds to establish a breeding presence on the newly pest-free islands. This is a view of the southern end of Guadaloupe Island, where some of the restoration works are underway. Here is a look at some of the extraordinary combination of vegetation types that were discussed. If you are interested in this revegetation, restoration and relocation project in the north Pacific and the western coast of Mexico, explore these links; Webpage: Facebook:   More information about Pacific Rim Conservation can be found on their website:   Be sure to follow Federico and his team on Twitter: @IslasGECI All images used with permission, provided by Grupo de Ecología y Conservación de Islas. Copyright is theirs.
Let's celebrate the amazing explorers of the ocean, the friends of seafarers and the masters of the vast expanse of the seas! Dr. Stephanie Borelle was my guest in the very first Bird Emergency episode! We speak again to talk about albatrosses, as Steph now works for Birdlife Marine looking out for the great seabirds of the world. It's #WorldAlbatrossDay2021 Follow Steph on Twitter @PetrelStation Follow the Albatross Task Force on Twitter @AlbyTaskForce or on Instagram @albatross_stories Follow The Bird Emergency on Twitter @birdemergency or Instagram @TheBirdEmergency
Doing something a little different for a while- an irregular feature to help those bird nerds who have developed a business sharing their knowledge and their favourite birding locations with other bird nerds!  A global pandemic doesn't help tour operators, so I thought I could feature some great bird-focused tour operators! First up is Janine Duffy, co-founder and Director of Echidna Walkabout Tours.  Janine is passionate about birds and Australia's unique wildlife, Koalas in particular.  Janine is a tour guide and operator who takes the values of "tread lightly" and preserving (and improving) habitat seriously.  Meet Janine, and maybe taking a trip to some of the places she talks about, to see some of the stunning Australian birdlife. You can find out more about the tours Janine offers here - Instagram - @echidnawalkabout_ If you are interested to check out other tour operators who have similar values, then have a look at
Everyone who has ever heard about the Kakapo, or seen footage of this remarkable bird, never forgets them They have clung tenaciously to existence, and a team of dedicated scientists, naturalists and volunteers have helped them stage quite a recovery, despite rats, mice, stoats and crusty-bum. Hear the story, in detail, and get inspired to help, in any way you can, so that the Kakapo see many more generations. Visit the Kakapo Recovery Team website.  
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