Bird Strike Project Update

Hello!

It’s been awhile so we thought it would be a good time to update you all on our Bird Strike Project and what we have been up to.

We are now entering a phase where we can begin to explore the data you are providing us through our current data portal and through the 30,000+ data records shared with us from various organisations such as Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, Wildlife Victoria, CSIRO Ornithological Collection and the Australian Museum. Even the data from our smaller partners such as Native Animal Rescue is invaluable who spent weeks manually entering in their bird strike records to a spreadsheet for us.

What are we starting to see?

Our boisterous and colourful friend, the Rainbow Lorikeet, is the most frequently recorded species to strike both windows and cars. From 20,838 historical records, the Rainbow Lorikeet accounted for 15% of strike events and 10% of your survey monkey uploads. These bright fellows are fast, agile flyers and one of our most commonly found urban birds. We know that birds who reach high flight velocities are some of the most common birds to strike windows. We also know that our most abundant birds are the most likely to strike – no surprises there! Here are the top 10 species that were found in historical data from 17 organisations:

Top 10 Historical Species

No. of Records

Rainbow Lorikeet

2759

Laughing Kookaburra

1079

Australian Magpie

1066

Tawny Frogmouth

891

Galah

802

Noisy Miner

573

Australian Ringneck

376

Unidentified Species

343

Crimson Rosella

324

Sacred Kingfisher

312

 

Bird strike also doesn’t discriminate when it comes to our threatened species. Some of our most critically endangered birds have fallen victim. The Swift Parrot, Regent Honeyeater, Hooded Plover, Malleefowl, Carnaby’s Cockatoo and many more, in fact 109 threatened species, have also been recorded.

Bird strikes are also happening year-round but over half (58.6%) are happening in springtime. As our birds get ready to nest, their behaviour can become more aggressive and distracted. Their attention may be on more pressing things than whether there is a solid obstacle in the way!

The fate of the birds

So, what is happening to the birds once they have hit a window or car. Your data shows that over half of the birds are flying away which, is great news! However, this data doesn’t account for any fatalities that may happen from prolonged trauma such as internal bleeding. A bird may fly away to find refuge before passing away and we aren’t always going to be aware of this. In the data provided by Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, some birds have previously been suffering from ill health before striking windows or being hit by cars. Birds have been dehydrated, emaciated, partially paralysed, blind or carrying parasites. Could their ill health be increasing their vulnerability to strike events? Hopefully this is something we can analyse by collecting more data from our Aussie wildcare groups.

What’s next?

We will continue to collect as much data as possible so that we can be as accurate as possible with our predictions, our warnings and our solutions. Hopefully this data will come from home and business owners, members of the public, wildlife care groups, sanctuaries, zoos, vets… anyone who takes care of or encounters birds in trouble. This data will also help us paint a clear picture of bird-strike “hotspots”, species that may need some extra help and how we can mitigate this problem in the first place.

Stay tuned to our Bird Strike Project over the next few months whilst we plan guidelines and assessment tools on how to mitigate bird strike at home and work.

Photo: Rainbow Lorikeets by Bird Explorers

 and @UrbanBirdsOz  @birdsinbackyards
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