As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Scientists use fire to save endangered birds on the fringes of Adelaide

By Tom Fedorowytsch
Chestnut- Rumped Heathwren small fx.jpg
Updated 9 Feb 2017, 9:38pm

Planned burn-offs, which play an important role in protecting lives and properties from summer bushfires, are becoming increasingly critical to the survival of a rare bird species in South Australia.

The chestnut rumped heathwren has a subspecies which is found only in the Mt Lofty Ranges around Adelaide, and is considered endangered.

Fire ecologist Kirstin Abley said her team had only recently discovered fire was a vital part of maintaining the tiny bird's habitat.

"Initially we didn't realise they had a preference for recently-burnt habitat, and we thought they preferred longer unburnt habitat," she said.

"We're very good at putting out bushfires, so a lot of the habitat the heathwren has been occupying is long unburnt."

Ms Abley said her team at Natural Resources Adelaide and Mt Lofty Ranges were now using prescribed burns to ensure sections of the landscape developed new, thick undergrowth the birds adored.

"We're burning small patches of that habitat and hopefully generating some that is optimal for them, so their numbers can increase because the food and shelter is better," she said.

But it's a tricky balancing act for the ecologists, who need to protect both lives and properties, as well as other species with different preferences.
Lives and homes a priority over threatened species

Ms Abley said while the ultimate responsibility of fire ecologists was safeguarding lives and property, it was nice when the work dovetailed with helping wildlife.


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