Protecting Western Australia’s grains industry from a highly invasive pest bird using innovative surveillance and early detection technology.

Page last updated: Friday, 13 May 2016 - 12:00pm

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Protecting WA's grains industry from a highly invasive pest bird using innovative surveillance and early detection technology project is one of ten successful applications to receive funding from the Boosting Biosecurity Defences project's Research and Development (R&D) Fund.

The purpose of the R&D Fund is to provide funding for the development of innovative solutions to better manage declared or significant pests and diseases. This funding project is made possible by Royalties for Regions and led by the Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia (DAFWA).

Below is an excerpt from the application's project overview:

"Aim: To safeguard the profitability of the WA grains industry by providing an innovative, efficient surveillance tool that enables rapid detection of a high risk grains pest, the common starling.


Re-train and refine existing starling-specific acoustic recognition algorithm to reduce the occurrence of false positive detections and enhance current processing time.
With use of refined algorithm, remotely detect starling incursions into WA using existing audio surveillance technology.
Enable rapid response to new incursions.
Investigate the potential application of starling algorithm to contemporary hardware listening devices.

Depending on outcome of above; undertake a comparative study of remote acoustic detection technologies.


Tweetfinder2’: fully revised software capable of rapidly and effectively detecting ‘true’ starling calls from background ambient recordings without returning a prohibitively large number of ‘false positive’ detections.
Ongoing, rapid analysis of large volumes of field recordings, enabling early detection of starlings in Western Australia.
Promotion of Western Australia’s starling control program.
Collaboration with industry to develop improved listening technology for starling surveillance.
An innovative, highly efficient network of acoustic detection devices undertaking starling surveillance.


Increased and continual starling surveillance and detection over greater spatial area than is currently possible.
Improved response times to starling incursion(s).
Proof of application of new, innovative hardware technology to starling surveillance.
Early detection of positive starling calls provides management with the ability to continue to operate within the ‘left-hand-side’ of the invasion curve with respect to starling management in WA.
Engagement of the Grains and other industries in starling management through promotion of the program.


An improved starling control program will help avoid the $42.8 mill/yr risk to WA grain and horticulture industries."

This is project being managed by DAFWA.


Contact information

Jenny Crisp
+61 (0)8 9368 3254