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          Member | Join now

          By joining the biggest community of bird lovers in Australia, you can help us make a positive impact on the future of our native birdlife. The members of BirdLife Australia, along with our supporters and partners, have been powerful advocates for native birds and the conservation of their habitats since 1901.

          We are also the meeting ground for everyone with an interest in birds from the curious backyard observer to the dedicated research scientist. It doesn’t matter what your interest in birds is or how much you know about them, your membership will offer you the opportunity to increase your awareness and enjoyment.

          Birdlife Australia would be delighted to welcome you as a new member and we look forward to sharing our news and achievements with you throughout the coming year.

          Our Programs

          @BirdlifeOz

          ‘A Butterfly Snatch’: the winning image from last year's Bird Behaviour Category - and the Guardian's People's Choi… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…

          Daily albatross talks?! We are in! What better way to gear up for #WorldAlbatrossDay twitter.com/seabirdsession…

          @AUS_NZ_Seabirds So are we!!

          History

          In 1896, a flock of gentlemen ornithologists began dining together in Melbourne...

          RAOU gathering circa 1925

          Birders camping circa 1921

          The table was decorated with wattle flowers and the nest of a Ground Thrush, complete with fresh eggs. There was talk around the table — serious talk — about the formation of an ornithological union, as in Britain and the USA, but it took a few more years and a few more dinners before they resolved to proceed. A committee was formed to solicit members for a truly national organisation, in line with the mood for federation at the time. They were successful in attracting 137 members, including six women.

          In 1901, the Australasian Ornithologist's Union was hatched:

          'The Objects of the Society are the advancement and popularisation of the Science of Ornithology, the protection of useful and ornamental avifauna, and the publication of a magazine called The Emu; Thus bird students will be kept in touch with one another, original study will be aided, and an Australian want supplied.'

          With the blessing of the British monarch, King George V, the 'Royal' was added in 1910 and somewhere along the way the apostrophe was dropped to become the Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union (RAOU). This name persisted until 1997, when the RAOU became Birds Australia.

          A few years after the AOU came into being, a group of 15 of its members decided to form an organisation that complemented the role of the Union by holding regular meetings to cater for the needs of people interested in field ornithology.

          Thus the Bird Observers Club, an association of field ornithologists, was formed in 1905. Its membership would be restricted initially to only 25 gentlemen, but it would soon burgeon, and eventually it allowed women to join.

          Over the ensuing decades, both organisations worked diligently to observe and conserve Australia’s birds, clocking up many achievements along the way — sometimes they worked together in cooperation, sometimes they worked as rivals.

          Getting Closer

          However, by the late 20th century, the aims and activities of the two organisations had begun to converge.

          Although research and conservation had always been at the forefront of Birds Australia’s activities, the emphasis had swung from ornithology based on collecting to ornithology for conservation, and included projects such as the Australian Bird Count and the Atlas of Australian Birds which actively encouraged its members to monitor birds in the field. At around the same time, the Bird Observers’ Club of Australia (or BOCA — it changed its name in 1988), expanded its involvement in bird conservation issues, and to better reflect this emphasis, changed its name to Bird Observation & Conservation Australia in 2007.

          RAOU members circa 1955

          Birdwatching in the 1950s

          The Merger

          The perceived roles of the two organisations had begun to overlap to such an extent that occasionally there were suggestions that they should reunite as one organisation. Each time, the idea was quickly dismissed, but when it resurfaced in 2010 and was examined critically, it became clear that a merger of Birds Australia and BOCA made sense, both in terms of effectiveness and efficiency. Put simply, a merger would create a stronger voice for Australia’s birds without duplication of resources or effort.

          After well over a century of existing as separate entities, Birds Australia and BOCA put the possibility of a merger into the hands of their respective members. A historic vote was held at the Annual General Meetings of both organisations in May 2011, and the result was overwhelming: over 93% of BOCA members and more than 95% of Birds Australia’s members voted in favour of the amalgamation — an emphatic endorsement!

          The Future

          And so a new, stronger bird conservation organisation for Australia — BirdLife Australia — came into existence on 1 January 2012.

          As BirdLife Australia we now have over 10,000 members and a further 65,000 supporters, 30 local branches, two reserves, two observatories, a members’ magazine (Australian Birdlife) and two peer-reviewed scientific journals (Emu and Australian Field Ornithology).

          We are the only truly national organisation dedicated to creating a bright future for Australia's birds. In a united effort for the first time in over a century, our staff, members and supporters are eagerly looking forward to continuing to tackle the many challenges that face Australia’s birds.

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