FLYING through the sky and hanging out in trees can be thirsty and dirty work.
This is why birds need somewhere to drink water and take baths.
Hence, the need for bird baths – of which the National Parks Association of NSW is conducting a study.
The association is running a project in which residents are asked to record what species use their bird baths.
It wants people to think about putting more bird baths in their gardens.
The association’s wildlife ecologist Gráinne Cleary said it was an Australia-wide project that had never been done before.
Dr Cleary was seeking ‘‘citizen scientists’’ in the Hunter and other areas to participate.
Hunter Bird Observers Club president Mick Roderick said the project was ‘‘a good way of engaging the community in birdwatching and submitting records’’.
‘‘For me, the most important thing is it gets people involved,’’ Mr Roderick said.
Researchers want to know how garden habitats influence what species use bird baths.
A summer survey is running this month, requiring participants to watch their bird bath for 20 minutes a day for up to three times a week and record what they see.
Dr Cleary said the project aimed to ‘‘encourage people to attract smaller birds – the wrens, the silvereyes and the ones in danger of becoming extinct locally’’.
‘‘Lorikeets and mynas outcompete them,’’ she said.
Altering human behaviour can promote bird diversity.
For example, the type of bird baths people have and where they are placed can affect what species use them.
‘‘If they are too exposed in the open, you won’t get smaller birds,’’ she said.
‘‘The presence of cats, dog and chooks will affect what birds use baths.’’
People sometimes feed meat and cheese to birds, which attracts predatory birds like magpies and currawongs, she said.
‘‘Once they’re in your garden, you won’t get smaller birds.’’
For more information bathingbirds.org.au