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.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

How little brown birds get overlooked in the protection pecking order


Ever heard of the King Island brown thornbill? What about the orange-bellied parrot? Can you guess which is more endangered?

Tuesday 28 November 2017 23.00 GMT Last modified on Wednesday 29 November 2017 00.23 GMT

In January 2016, a keen birdwatcher named Dion Hobcroft walked into the Pegarah state forest on Tasmania’s King Island with a recorded birdcall and took the first blurry photographs of the King Island brown thornbill.

The brown thornbill, Acanthiza pusilla archibaldi, is a subspecies of the Tasmanian thornbill, distinguished from its cousins on the big island by a slightly longer beak.

It is about 10cm long, coloured various shades of brown, and thoroughly unexciting to the untrained eye. Hobcroft’s was only the fourth confirmed sighting since 1974.

Some birds are easy to sell and … others are very hard to sell because they are little brown birds
Kate Ravich, King Island natural resource management group

According to a forthcoming review of Australia’s avian threatened species programs, the King Island brown thornbill is most likely to be the next bird to be declared extinct.

It shares the podium with the King Island scrubtit, Acanthornis magnus greenianus, which, with a population of fewer than 50 adults spread across three isolated areas of ever-shrinking melaleuca swamp, is No 3 on the list.

The orange-bellied parrot, which stops off on King Island on its precarious annual flight from south-western Tasmania to the Victorian coast, and has a wild adult population of fewer than 20 individuals, is the second.


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