Bird Monitoring

BirdLife South Africa relies on volunteer support to achieve many of our goals – your time and inputs could have an extremely valuable outcome for the conservation of birds and their habitats. You can get involved in all areas of our work from data collection to "citizen science" or volunteer your time or services on one of our projects. Click on a link below for more information.

SABAP2

SABAP2 logoAs a birder, one of the most valuable contributions you can make is to ensure that the information you collect whilst birding is recorded and put to good use. Most of what we know about our birds, their behaviour and their movements is a result of information from ordinary birders. Getting involved in the Southern Africa Bird Atlas Project (SABAP2) is an ideal project to put your birding to good use.

What is a bird atlas and why have it? A bird atlas, firstly, is generally not a once-off exercise but is repeated on a regular basis, for instance, every 5 to 10 years. The main function of a bird atlas is to provide us with a "snapshot" of the changing environment we live in. Environmental change occurs in a number of ways, for instance habitat modification for agricultural use, global warming, commercial aforestation, and so on.

Birds and bird habitats are in a state of unprecedented change, especially as a result of alterations in land use and because of climate change, and we are consequently seeing significant alterations in range. Range expansions are easy to detect as is the case with the Hadeda's incursion into the western Cape and Egyptian geese throughout the entire country, but range contractions are more difficult to measure and need systematic monitoring if we are to detect them and to make the appropriate conservation decisions. Most importantly, birds are a highly visible and well documented species group about which people feel passionate. They allow us a lens into changes affecting other kinds of biodiversity and provide us with an important tool when deciding on conservation priorities.

The bird atlas requires the collection of many records relating to the range and sometimes the abundance of birds over a large area. Because it requires the collection of so much information it needs the participation of thousands of people. Data is collected through the "citizen scientists" in the field, generally on a bird watching outing where the species seen or heard are recorded in a fixed way that is meaningful to the final output of the project. Usually the area that the data is collected in, and the time spent in the area is recorded. In the case of SABAP2, the area for data collection is named a "Pentad", which is an area of 5 minutes of longitude by 5 minutes of latitude. The minimum time period that should be spent collecting data within the Pentad is 2 hours. These outlines are called the spatial (space) and temporal (time) resolutions respectively.

We would like to encourage people and organisations such as farmers, conservation organisations both governmental and non-governmental, private game reserves, and most importantly, people from the majority of our population groups to participate. In conclusion, participation as a "citizen scientist" will allow birdwatchers to make a valuable contribution to the conservation of biodiversity in the Southern African region, and in this is well summarised in the statement "birding with a purpose".

Click here to find out more about how you can get involved.

CWAC

cwac logo transparentThe Coordinated Waterbird Counts (CWAC) was launched in 1992. The objective of CWAC is to monitor South Africa's waterbird populations and the conditions of the wetlands which are important for waterbirds.

This is being done by means of a programme of regular mid-summer and mid-winter censuses at a large number of South African wetlands and estuaries. CWAC currently monitors over 350 wetlands around the country.

Click here to find out more about how you can get involved.

CAR

car bannerLarge and conspicuous birds offer the opportunity to monitor their populations by means of relatively simple techniques. One of these techniques is the "road count", in which observations are made from vehicles covering fixed routes.
CAR has spread rapidly to most provinces and now monitors over 20 species of large terrestrial birds (cranes, bustards, korhaans, storks, Secretarybird and Bald Ibis) along 340 fixed routes covering 19 000 km. Fourteen of these species appear in the Red Data Book.

Twice a year, in midsummer (the last Saturday in January) and midwinter, (the last Saturday in July) roadcounts are carried out using this standardised method. A standardised method allows one to make comparisons between counts. Even though we do not attempt to count the entire population of a species, the area covered is so large that CAR is statistically capable of demonstrating trends in population size. The project also reveals details of habitat use and the relationship of populations to the agricultural practices of an area.

Click here to find out more about how you can get involved.

Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas monitoring

iba-logoThe Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA) Programme depends largely on the assistance and support from volunteers and the general public to make the IBA programme a success. As a person that might visit an IBA on a regular basis or even live in or near an IBA, you can play a very valuable role in making sure that the IBA and its key species is protected as it should be.

The IBA Programme depends largely on the assistance and support from volunteers and the general public to make the IBA programme a success. As a person that might visit an IBA on a regular basis or even live in or near an IBA you can play a very valuable role in making sure that the IBA and its key species is protected as it should be.

In this regard you can get involved in a number of ways for example:

  • Monitor the key species in the IBA by submitting data to the Southern African Bird Atlas Project or to the MyBirdPatch project.
  • Lookout for any developments that might have a negative impact on the IBA or more positively developments that might improve the status of the IBA.
  • Get to know all the role players in the IBA for example people that are responsible for managing the IBA.


If you want to make a contribution and to find out more, please contact Daniel Marnewick daniel.marnewick@birdlife.org.za

 

Submit a rarity

From time to time, birders across Southern Africa report sightings of very exciting, rare and unusual bird. In order to ensure the accuracy of these sightings, as well as to ensure the sighting is not being confused with a potentially more common species, the BirdLife South Africa Rarities Committee was set up to adjudicate sightings of rare birds in the region.

Click here to find out more about how you can get involved.

Bird clubs

BirdLife South Africa has many bird clubs across South Africa. Many of these clubs run their own projects, provide opportunities to learn more about birds, go on outings and make a difference at a local level. Bird clubs also provide a great social scene for birders and conservation minded individuals to interact and have fun!

For information on a bird club in your area, click here

Volunteer campaigns

From time to time, BirdLife South Africa needs volunteers to assist in various campaigns or projects that require support for specific tasks. If you want to make a difference and get involved in one of our campaigns, please send an email to info@birdlife.org.za

The Steven Piper SAFRING Trust

Most of us remember Steven as a man who wore one hat, a "Tam o' Shanter", and who wore it most of the time. But in reality he was a man who wore many hats, and he had many interests.

Click here for more about the trust.

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