As well as collecting ad-hoc bird reports from members, COG conducts a number of more systematic surveys. Both the ad-hoc and systematic records eventually feed into the COG and BLA Atlases (bird sightings databases). By participating in these more standardised surveys, COG members and non-members can add significantly to our knowledge of birds in the Canberra area.  Unlike ad-hoc reports, surveys uniquely offer the opportunity to record what is NOT present as well as what is present.

In 2014 all are especially encouraged to help with the one-year Gang-gang Survey.

COG organises or participates in each of the systematic surveys and reports described below.

BLA Atlas of Australian Birds

COG members participate in the BirdLife Australia (BLA) national initiative to atlas the presence of bird species right across the continent. This survey commenced in 1998 and is  ongoing.

Two special 5-year data collection periods were established during which surveys were systematic (in the same locations at regular intervals) and the data from these was published as two ‘Atlases’.  Outside these periods all systematic and ad-hoc data received is continuing to be accumulated and added to the Atlas database.

The data from the  first collection period was published by BLA in “The  Atlas of Australian Birds” in 1984 (based on data collected between 1977-1981).  Subsequently ‘The New Atlas of Australian Birds” (2003, based on data collected between 1998-2001) compared distribution and abundance data with that described in in the first Atlas.

Some COG members are continuing to survey habitat sites they identified during the period 1998-2001, and new members are encouraged to join them.

Observations collected for the ongoing effort can be entered into any one of the following:

Note that  Eremaea eBird and Birdata sightings are automatically copied to COG’s database so observations should not be entered to more than one of (otherwise they may be duplicated).  For information on how to enter your sightings see How to Report.

Contact: COG office


COG Annual Bird Report

The COG Annual Bird Report is a summary of the current status of each bird species found in the Canberra area.  It is written by COG members who examine the last year’s recorded observations for each bird  (from COG’s database, including all reports both ad-hoc  and from systematic surveys)  and compares those with the bird’s  history from earlier years.  A short summary of the bird’s occurrence for the year and likely trends is published in a special edition of Canberra Bird Notes each year, the “Annual Bird Report”.


COG Annual Blitz

Every year since 2005, COG members and friends spread out across the ACT to attempt to record bird presences over the widest possible area on a single weekend, the last weekend in October.  Observations are submitted through the usual channels (online or paper forms) ultimately ending up in the COG database.  A summary of results is made after each blitz that be compared with results from past years to provide a series of snapshots of ACT bird activity on the same Spring weekend each year.


Garden Bird Survey (GBS)

The GBS has been conducted by COG since 1981, with all the information now compiled in a detailed computer database.

The GBS records the species and abundance of birds in suburban gardens. Canberra suburbs are bird-rich environments that are made more interesting by a strong seasonal climatic variation. The GBS allows COG members and supporters to contribute to a useful bird survey from their own homes, with minimal cost and effort. It is also excellent for all levels, from beginners to experienced observers. The amount of time that participants spend is entirely open to their situation.

Survey participants record weekly, the largest number of individuals of each species observed at any one time in or over their site, being a 100 metre radius. Breeding activity is also recorded. The GBS year runs from July – June (but new participants can join at any time). The data are recorded on a large wall chart, which hold a year’s worth of observations. Printed charts are available by emailing the address below. An electronic version is available here, or you can enter data on an excel spreadsheet.

This project has established a unique long-term set of information into the annual geographic distributions and population abundance patterns of common, rare and introduced bird species.

Data from the GBS has contributed to the COG publication ‘Birds of Canberra Gardens’ (Second Edition published in 2009), a generously illustrated analysis of Canberra’s bird abundance and distribution, written for the general public.

COG is always looking for more participants for the GBS, particularly in the outer and newer areas of Molonglo, Tuggeranong and Gungahlin.

Contacts:Duncan McCaskill & Neil Hermes


Birdwatch Project

Birdwatch is a joint project of ACT and region landholders, Greening Australia, CSIRO and COG.

The aim of the project is to determine the value of revegetation on rural properties for birds.

Early in 2000, COG members commenced surveying 132 sites located on 55 private properties and 15 public reserves across the Southern Tablelands. The sites included revegetation of varying size and shape, spread from Canberra to Braidwood to Boorowa, and ranging in age from 14 months to 14 years. Surveys across all sites have been carried out in 200-01, 2008-09 and 2011-12, and will be repeated as funds become available.

The information obtained has been analysed by CSIRO to determine the best shape, size and location of revegetation for bird habitat.

As well as providing valuable information, the participating landholders have seen the fruits of their labours and received valuable education in how to monitor their properties for biodiversity. A small book, “Bringing the Birds Back: a glovebox guide for bird identification and habitat restoration in ACT & SE NSW” was published in conjunction with the project by Greening Australia in 2001. To obtain a copy email Greening Australia

Contact: Nicki Taws


Woodland Surveys

Since 1995, COG has conducted quarterly surveys of the abundance and distribution of birds in the woodlands of Mulligan’s Flat Nature Reserve.

With the declaration of the endangered Yellow Box – Blakeley’s Red Gum Grassy Woodland Community and a number of woodland bird species as threatened species, in 1998 and 2000 COG extended its woodland surveys.

Currently, COG systematically surveys each season 11 grassy woodland sites covering nature parks and reserves and rural leasehold areas in the ACT (under arrangement with the land managers/lessees of those sites).

The aims of the surveys are to document the abundance of the birds using the endangered grassy woodlands so that the success of management practices can be monitored and to obtain as much information as possible on those bird species listed as threatened within the ACT.

Contact: COG office


Waterbird Surveys: Lake Bathurst and Lake George

COG volunteers usually conduct monthly surveys of Lake Bathurst and Lake George, north east of Canberra. Both lakes support large numbers of waterbirds of many species, including rare and threatened species.

The surveys have been conducted since 1980 and continue even though recent overall water levels have been low. Both lakes have been dry for extended periods over the survey years.

Contact: Dr Michael Lenz via the COG office