Welcome to Mischievous Magpie, where birds of all shape, size and personality are invited to join the conversation. This blog discusses whether we love our native birds in Australia and how we value them. Is it enough to stop them from going extinct?

Birds offer humans all sorts of things from pollinating plants to regulating agricultural pests.  They teach us about ourselves and they inspire us to fly, to sing and dance.

But Australia’s native birds are in serious trouble, with 1 in 5 species threatened and 2 out of 3 species in serious decline.  If they go, it spells disaster for humans, plants and wildlife alike.

What should we do?

Traditional threatened species management takes a biophysical science approach – populations are counted, threats are identified and money is invested in gathering more biophysical data.

This approach works well in some cases and fails to make a difference in others.

My approach is slightly different. I’m looking at the social dynamics of threatened species management – who is involved, who holds the power and who’s decisions count. After all threatened species are as much a social problem as they are an ecological one. Humans cause species to become threatened through destructive activities like reducing available habitats, removing food sources or killing individuals. Other humans then try to fix things by implementing recovery programs. This costs lots of money and could be avoided if we were more considerate towards other species and did more thinking and less plundering.

More specifically I’m looking at how Australians value native birds, especially threatened native birds. Value is the relative worth or merit of something. Values relating to wildlife can be consumptive (utilitarian) and non-consumptive (aesthetic, symbolic, cultural, scientific, etc).

My research is attempting to work out how values affect conservation of birds. As a nation do we prefer to protect only the birds we are familiar with like majestic eagles and mischievous magpies?

What about the little brown jobs that no-one’s ever heard of? Do we value them or can we live without them?

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