Why do we need to track Gouldians?
In 2007 we started an annual Gouldian finch census at the end of the dry season to monitor the numbers of Gouldian finches in the eastern Kimberley of Western Australia. This allowed us to census the population, and also provided a fun opportunity for many volunteers to get involved with our research (and to see wild Gouldians – always an amazing sight). Indeed, over the last five years we have had volunteers come far and wide from all over the world to be part of this experience. However, 2013 will be the last year for our annual count – this is simply because of the success of other projects, such as the nest-box project, we have expanded our work over such a wide area now that we can no longer effectively use volunteers to census the birds manually.
Instead, and excitingly, we will be trialling recent developments in remote tracking, whereby birds will fitted with tiny sensors that record all their movements. This technology will enable us to determine dispersal patterns of both adults and juveniles, the distances moved by individuals during the non-breeding season (i.e. their migratory phases) and also, importantly, their survival. Over the last years, both researchers and volunteers have been puzzled about a number of curious patterns from the census data. Why are there so few adults and so many juveniles? Where have all the unbanded birds come from? Where do all the banded birds go? Have they dispersed or died? This technology will now be able to answer these fundamental questions and provided unprecedented insight into the Gouldian finch. So, although we are sad that this will be our last count, we are also excited at the prospects of taking this new and innovative project into the future.
We will update this page with any recent findings. You can also keep up to date with any recent findings by following our blog.