Backyard Bird

Choose this survey to provide us with information on the bird species that visit your garden.

Scroll down the page to view detailed instructions - we strongly recommend you do this before submitting a survey.

Don't forget to go to My Account to update your garden and location details for the surveys so your information will automatically appear (otherwise you will have to enter your location and your garden information every time you do a new survey).

About this survey

Large numbers of birds often live in the places where people live, even though there are usually fewer species than in native habitats. A few introduced species tend to be very common, such as the Common (Indian) Myna, but several native species, like the Noisy Miner, are also common. Most of the places where Australian people live are fairly new and are still being developed, usually accompanied by a loss of native vegetation. The bird communities of these areas are also still changing, with some species declining, and others increasing in abundance.

The main aim of this survey is to monitor changes in the distribution and abundance of the complete range of birds that live where people live. A secondary aim is to relate variation in bird communities to the design of the built environment, and the structure and species of plants in our gardens.

Become a member (it's free)

You don't need to be an expert bird-watcher to help out!

To take part in the survey, you will need to record your observations via an on-line form. To submit this form you will first need to become a member (or 'Backyard Birder'. Membership is free, providing you with your own password that allows us to keep track of repeat records from the same location. You can also choose to select a membership option that will allow you to receive email updates of research results and bird news.


Survey methods

There are three survey methods that you can use to collect the data, depending on your lifestyle:

  1. Record all the birds you observe in your garden* on a single day, over a fixed 20 minute period between 7 am and 10 am (preferred method) - please record the species and the number of individuals.
  2. Keep a list of all the bird species you observe incidentally in your garden* over a 1-week period - please record the species only. Put in your records for the week long period at the conclusion of the week.
  3. Rely on your memory to recall all the bird species you have observed in your garden* over the last year - please record the species only.

(*Include birds in your front and back yards as well as the street side adjacent to your house. Do not include birds seen only in your neighbours' gardens, or birds flying through that do not land.)

You may choose to complete all three types of survey, and you can repeat them as often as you wish, but you must submit a new survey form each time.

Take part in the survey

Step 1: Log in to the website on the home page or create a new account if you are new to Birds in Backyards.

Step 2: Go to the ‘About My Garden’ section of your account and select 'Edit'. If you have not entered garden details previously, then please fill out the forms to tell us about your garden. If you have entered these details previously, check they are still correct (in case you have modified your garden). Your location and garden information will automatically transfer over to your survey form (and can be changed if you are surveying a different site).

Step 3: Decide which survey method you wish to use (20 min, weekly or annual). A 20 min survey provides us with the most robust data but every option is available to you.

Step 4: Select Access the Backyard Bird survey from the Survey toolbar.

Step 5: Set the time and date of the survey you are completing and either fill in or check your entries for the location, your garden characteristics and other features of your garden. Click on the tabs to display the options. You can also enter other information and notes about the birds you saw. Fields marked with a red * are compulsory.


Step 6: Select your region from the drop down list if it doesn't automatically update. Familiarise yourself with the 30 (or so) target species for your state or region. If you have entered your address in 'About My Garden' details of your membership, your location and the 30 birds from your region will automatically load. If you have not done this or you are surveying a different location, select either the state or region you are in from the available options in the 'Location' box, and a list of birds will appear at the bottom of the page. 

To show a photo, call and information about any of these birds, click on the link for each species.

Step 7: Collect your bird observations according to your chosen method.

Step 8: Log back in and fill out the on-line form.  All of your "About my Garden" information will automatically appear in the survey form if you previously entered it. Please adjust the information, including your survey location, if you are surveying a different site.

If you are doing a 20 minute survey, type in the numbers of individuals you saw. If you are completing a weekly or annual survey, type '1' in the 'number' box corresponding to each bird species that you recorded (as we only use presence/absence data for these survey types). To add a bird not in the list of 30 bird species, type the name in the box above the bird survey table and select from the list that appears. This will automatically put the bird species into your table. (Hint: type slowly and wait for the bird list to load. Check you know the proper common name for the species)

Step 9: When you have finished your survey, click 'Save' to submit your survey to us. Note there are other tabs of information at the bottom of the page. Ignore these - they are simply default options in place with the software used.


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