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How are our birds of prey faring


 
Play  Proposed Citizen Science study of four well known Gold Coast birds of prey.  wsdjboponly28march2017.mp3  
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Sea Eagle (Vic  Thomson)

 
Professor Darryl Jones, urban ecologist from Griffith University, outlines a new citizen science project delving into how big predator birds are affected by urbanisation. The citizen science project is based in the Gold Coast and looks at four birds of prey, to do with birds of prey, white-bellied sea eagles, ospreys, mini kites and whistling kites.

The project teams up with Currumbin Wildlife Hospital because lots of these birds get brought in for rehabilitation. The birds will be fitted with special coloured leg bands before they are released. It is a conservation oriented project to see how sensitive each species is. White-bellied sea eagles are extremely sensitive to human disturbance and will even abandon a nest if they think someone has seen it. Ospreys on the other hand will nest anywhere, including in crowded places like beaches. There is already historical data going back 25 years so the new data will add to the picture.

Some birds of prey have adapted well to cities. The BBC series Planet Earth 2 looked at cities with the high densities of peregrine falcons and found the highest density in New York. They have adapted to nesting on the tops of tall buildings and feeding on pigeons. This is a far cry from the 1960s when birds of prey were thought to be going extinct. That was because DDT made their eggs too thin so the eggs cracked when their parents sat on them. Common birds of prey like
peregrine falcons have recovered since DDT was banned. Sydney is also home to peregrine falcons,
The nest of one (Frodo) was filmed on Frodo cam in a high ise Gold Coast building for several years. Puzzlingly, the camera was finally turned off as the sight of a peregrine falcon ripping a pigeon to shreds to feed its chicks was said to be too graphic for children.

In a boost for citizen science the federal government has just put out a fund for citizen science projects and is trying to encourage bigger projects. Citizen science really does highlight people skills. 

Professor Darryl Jones was interviewed for A Question of Balance by Ruby Vincent. Image from Vic Watson and A Question of Balance. Summary text by Victor Barry March 2017,

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