Birdlife Australia



Birdlife Australia

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BirdLife Australia is proud to be the nation's largest bird conservation organisation. As an independent, not-for-profit organisation, our aim is clear: to create a bright future for Australia's birds.

We have been a voice for Australia's birdlife for well over a century, protecting birds and their habitats through our robust programs and informed advocacy. It is the powerful passion of our members and supporters which keeps us moving forward and gives us our strength. With active branches and groups across the country,we are able to tap into local issues as well as understanding the bigger picture.
What we do

Our mission is to make a real and positive difference for Australia's birds. Over the years our conservation work has achieved beneficial results for a wide range of different species. Our experience and specialised knowledge combined with our ability to unite and inspire the bird-loving community means that we can act quickly and decisively at local, state and national levels.

It's not just about saving our precious birds -- we all enjoy watching birds as well. This is why we help people learn about birds and conduct a diverse array of activities so that you can get out into nature and appreciate birds with like-minded people.

Like you, birds are in our nature.

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Conservation & Protection

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Known address

Suite 2-05, 60 Leicester Street Carlton VIC 3053

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Founding Year

History of group

In 1896, a flock of gentlemen ornithologists began dining together in Melbourne...

The table was decorated with wattle flowers and the nest of a Ground Thrush, complete with fresh eggs. There was talk around the table — serious talk — about the formation of an ornithological union, as in Britain and the USA, but it took a few more years and a few more dinners before they resolved to proceed. A committee was formed to solicit members for a truly national organisation, in line with the mood for federation at the time. They were successful in attracting 137 members, including six women.

In 1901, the Australasian Ornithologist's Union was hatched:

'The Objects of the Society are the advancement and popularisation of the Science of Ornithology, the protection of useful and ornamental avifauna, and the publication of a magazine called The Emu; Thus bird students will be kept in touch with one another, original study will be aided, and an Australian want supplied.'

With the blessing of the British monarch, King George V, the 'Royal' was added in 1910 and somewhere along the way the apostrophe was dropped to become the Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union (RAOU). This name persisted until 1997, when the RAOU became Birds Australia.

A few years after the AOU came into being, a group of 15 of its members decided to form an organisation that complemented the role of the Union by holding regular meetings to cater for the needs of people interested in field ornithology.

Thus the Bird Observers Club, an association of field ornithologists, was formed in 1905. Its membership would be restricted initially to only 25 gentlemen, but it would soon burgeon, and eventually it allowed women to join.

Over the ensuing decades, both organisations worked diligently to observe and conserve Australia’s birds, clocking up many achievements along the way — sometimes they worked together in cooperation, sometimes they worked as rivals.
Getting Closer

However, by the late 20th century, the aims and activities of the two organisations had begun to converge.

Although research and conservation had always been at the forefront of Birds Australia’s activities, the emphasis had swung from ornithology based on collecting to ornithology for conservation, and included projects such as the Australian Bird Count and the Atlas of Australian Birds which actively encouraged its members to monitor birds in the field. At around the same time, the Bird Observers’ Club of Australia (or BOCA — it changed its name in 1988), expanded its involvement in bird conservation issues, and to better reflect this emphasis, changed its name to Bird Observation & Conservation Australia in 2007.

The Merger

The perceived roles of the two organisations had begun to overlap to such an extent that occasionally there were suggestions that they should reunite as one organisation. Each time, the idea was quickly dismissed, but when it resurfaced in 2010 and was examined critically, it became clear that a merger of Birds Australia and BOCA made sense, both in terms of effectiveness and efficiency. Put simply, a merger would create a stronger voice for Australia’s birds without duplication of resources or effort.

After well over a century of existing as separate entities, Birds Australia and BOCA put the possibility of a merger into the hands of their respective members. A historic vote was held at the Annual General Meetings of both organisations in May 2011, and the result was overwhelming: over 93% of BOCA members and more than 95% of Birds Australia’s members voted in favour of the amalgamation — an emphatic endorsement!
The Future

And so a new, stronger bird conservation organisation for Australia — BirdLife Australia — came into existence on 1 January 2012.

As BirdLife Australia we now have over 10,000 members and a further 65,000 supporters, 30 local branches, two reserves, two observatories, a members’ magazine (Australian Birdlife) and two peer-reviewed scientific journals (Emu and Australian Field Ornithology).

We are the only truly national organisation dedicated to creating a bright future for Australia's birds. In a united effort for the first time in over a century, our staff, members and supporters are eagerly looking forward to continuing to tackle the many challenges that face Australia’s birds.



BirdLife Australia has, through its history, experienced a number of significant achievements, each of which has added to the protection of Australia’s birds. From the earliest days, when the word conservation was virtually unknown, our members were campaigning against the collection of breeding plumes from various species of egrets for the whims of milliners’ fashion. And they were successful, achieving a ban on the industry, thus saving entire populations of waterbirds.

Today, BirdLife Australia is the only national bird conservation organisation in Australia. With the support of people like you, we work to stop our beautiful native birds from dying out and protect their dwindling habitats.
We identified 315 Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) throughout Australia and its territories and have recruited volunteers to monitor and manage them.
We released pver 100 captive-bred Regent Honeyeaters to boost the population of this Critically Endangered species.
We helped to establish Australia's first International Bird Sanctuary in Adelaide to provide a safe haven for 20,000 migratory shorebirds across 36 species.
Our volunteers have collected 10 million records for our Atlas of Australian Birds database since 1998.
Our Beach-nesting Birds project has overseen a 400% increase in breeding success of Hooded Plovers on selected Victorian beaches.
We fenced off 1,500 hectares of vital breeding habitat near Perth for Carnaby’s Black-Cockatoos so that they can breed without disruption.
We coordinated the planting of 28,000 trees in just one year to revegetate Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo habitat in western Victoria and south-eastern South Australia.
We have more than 12,000 members and 120,000 supporters, giving us greater influence so that we can ensure Australia’s birds a bright future.

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