Raptor census south australia large
Raptor census south australia large

Discover why researchers are counting South Australia’s birds of prey

11 Aug. 2021 3 min read

It’s ‘Census’ time – for SA’s birds of prey too. Learn more about why a statewide raptor count is underway.

The term raptor immediately conjures up visions of the deadly dinosaurs that terrorised those poor kids in the Jurassic Park films.

But did you know that birds of prey are also known as raptors? This includes the eastern osprey and the white-bellied sea eagle, both of which nest across the South Australian coastline.

In an effort to better conserve and recover eastern ospreys and white-bellied sea eagles in SA, a statewide ‘census’ is underway to count their numbers and assess any population trends.

Why count birds of prey?

The statewide surveys are part of a broader program of works being undertaken to conserve and recover these iconic coastal raptors in SA.

Both eastern osprey and white-bellied sea eagles are endangered in South Australia and previous studies have shown population declines in some mainland coastal regions and in the Riverland.

The surveys cover a significant proportion of the state’s coastline, via land and sea, giving ecologists a much more accurate picture of their population that will help ensure better management of these beautiful birds.

What information will be captured?

What this census will do is help ecologists assess population trends for the species by comparing them against earlier surveys, while also identifying threats to population stability.

This information will inform ways in which we can better protect these incredible birds and provide accurate and up-to-date breeding habitat and nest site location data for the raptors.

What else is happening to protect the species?

The census is one of a number of initiatives underway as part of a recovery strategy for the species, which focusses on things like site protection, access restriction, data management and planning and policy.

The recovery effort includes community-led projects, such as the recent installation of articifical nest platforms for the eastern osprey on Yorke Peninsula and Kangaroo Island, as well as at the Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary National Park – Winaityinaityi Pangkara.

A further five platforms are going to be installed via a project being delivered by the Southern Yorke Peninsula Landcare Group with support from National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Artificial nesting platforms have been erected elsewhere in SA and interstate with good success rates. In some areas, the nesting platforms have achieved even higher fledgling success than natural nest sites.

Recently, a community-led project fitting osprey chicks with satellite trackers to record their movements has provided insights for the community about the species on the west coast of SA.

It is hoped the data will yield information about survival and dispersal of newly independent osprey, as well as information about the species’ foraging behaviour.

Learn more about the birds that call SA home – check out our stories:10 birds of prey to see in South Australia,7 tiny birds to look for in South Australiaand7 birds’ nests you can see in South Australia.


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