By Sharnye Farrell Just outside the front doors of many Western Australian homes is a diverse and colourful population of native birds. And bird watching is becoming a popular recreational pastime for visitors to the Swan River due to the vast number of native bird species. With seven years’ experience in bird watching, Stuart Andrews, creator of Perth Bird Tours, says this increase coincides with the popularity of digital photography. “Bird watching is a discovery every time as you never know what you will see,” he said. “It becomes very rewarding when you see these colourful creatures through a good set of binoculars or a camera lens.” Along the Swan River there are many locations for bird watching a well as for enjoying the scenic views of the areas surrounding Perth City. However, despite the pastime increasing amongst visitors, Frank O’Connor from BirdLife Australia says changing water qualities, disturbances from human recreation and domestic pets may be the cause of population declines. “There needs to be community education about the birds and the role in their environment,” he said. “If we get people to value these sites and the birds that they support, then the future for the birds will improve.” BirdLife actively monitors the populations and conservation of bird species Australia-wide. Its Shorebirds 2020 project raises the awareness and importance of conversation of our native bird species in the community. It also monitors any potential threats to bird numbers within close proximity to human activity. Frank O’Connor says that surveys are constantly run on the Swan River by trained staff and volunteers to help with this important awareness of the birds in Western Australia. And In order to further raise awareness, the Aussie Backyard Bird Count will be running during National Bird Week October 20 – 26. To celebrate, BirdLife is launching its Western Australian office with an Open Day on October 19, with guided tours, informative talks and photographic displays.