MARCH 27, 2019
A new study has found two critically endangered bird species feared to be near extinction on King Island in the Bass Strait are not only still alive, but their populations may be larger than previously thought.
Lead researcher from The Australian National University (ANU) Dr. Matthew Webb says very little is known about the King Island scrubtit and brown thornbill.
Previous attempts to study the species have been hindered by the challenging, leech-infested terrain on King Island.
"Every sighting provides us with critical information to improve management approaches," Dr. Webb said.
"I am excited because our new methods revealed that thornbill and scrubtit populations are larger than previously thought."
The rare brownish birds are about the size of a ping pong ball, making them even more difficult to spot in the dense, swamp forests.
Scientists from ANU teamed up with Cradle Coast Natural Resource Management (Cradle Coast NRM), BirdLife Australia, Tasmanian Government and the Cradle Coast Authority, to conduct the first large-scale survey of the island's swamps and forests for the tiny birds.
The scientists looked for birds across the island, conducting more than 600 bird surveys over a three-week period.