Australasian Bird Fair

Department of Conservation —  23/12/2014

By DOC Biodiversity Ranger, Bruce Postill (Waikato)

2014 Australasian Bird Fair. I recently attended the inaugural Australasian Bird Fair in Sydney.

The Bird Fair is targeted at bird watchers/naturalists, with perhaps 15% of those attending being researchers.

There are presentations continuously, from 9 am until 5 pm, each day in the main hall—with many other smaller presentations, workshops, and tours on offer as well.

Red-capped plover.

Red-capped plover: One of the amazing images from the Bird Fair photo competition

Following a request from the organisers, I presented on the godwit and the New Zealand rock wren.

I gave the rock wren presentation on behalf of Kerry Weston—the lead DOC researcher for rock wren—who was unable to attend. It was one of four talks on threatened bird species.

Rock wren, Jane Peak, Eyre Mountains. Photo: Graeme Loh.

Rock wren, Jane Peak, Eyre Mountains

Rock wren are small reclusive birds, restricted to small pockets of the South Island’s high country. They are New Zealand’s only true alpine bird, living permanently above the tree line in the alpine area. It’s a mystery how such a tiny bird can survive beneath the winter snows.

Rock wren are also poor fliers. They nest on the ground and are easy targets for introduced predators. It’s a tragedy that this declining species is largely being wiped out by stoats.

Rock wren female with feather in beak, at nest hole, Transit Valley, Fiordland. Photo: **** Veitch.

Female rock wren, at nest hole

I was joined by speakers from Russia, Alaska and Queensland University to talk about the amazing migratory godwit.

I have had a long interest in godwits/shorebirds and, as member of Miranda and Australasian Wader Studies Group, I have been twice to China and to Korea. During my first trip, I assisted running training courses for Chinese Rangers.

Bar-tailed godwit. Photo: Andrew Walmsley | www.andrewwalmsleyphotography.com.

Bar-tailed godwit

This was the first Bird Fair in Australasia, although they have been popular overseas for many years.

The British one this year had 20,000 people over two days.

People pay to attend—$25 for the Sydney one—with all proceeds donated to conservation of endangered bird species in Australia and New Zealand.

Family with binoculars bird watching.

The Bird Fair had lots of fun activities for families and children

I don’t know the numbers for the Sydney event, but I had close to 200 people for each of my presentations.

Pūkeko: Another image from the Australasian Bird Fair photo competition.

Pūkeko: Another image from the Australasian Bird Fair photo competition

At the end of the event, the organising committee announced they were gifting, from the proceeds of the event, $10,000 to New Zealand Rock Wren Recovery.


Bruce funded his own trip to Australia. His genuine passion for conservation is inspiring and, in this case, DOC has directly benefited from his commitment. Thank you Bruce.