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Carpentarian grasswren Steve Murphy

Grasswren Project

Annual Grasswren Surveys

Grasswrens are an uniquely Australian group of birds, and our species in Queensland are some of the best! Carpentarian Grasswrens occur in northwestern Queensland and NT. But over the years due to extensive and recurring wildfires which have decimated their spinifex-clad hills and ranges, they have nearly disappeared in NT. BirdLife NQ is now working with Southern Gulf NRM to try to ensure that this does not happen in Queensland. A regional fire management plan is being implemented over several grazing properties near Mount Isa, where the species is found, and we are monitoring the impact of this plan on our grasswrens. 

Since 2008, our branch has conducted yearly surveys to determine distributions and landscape features for both Carpentarian and the endemic Kalkadoon Grasswrens. By using a standard method, we are able to compare results of our surveys across years, seasons and locations. High rainfall events during the wet season in recent years has resulted in successful breeding with increasing numbers of grasswrens being found in increasing locations. We are also working closely with doctoral student, Henry Stoetzel, who has provided accurate habitat models to help guide our survey efforts.
Our work is supported by the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, through a grant to Southern Gulf NRM.

Kath Shurcliff


Each year a report is produced to share the current survey data, as well as provide some analysis and context for researchers, land managers, and other stakeholders. We sincerely thank all volunteers for their participation. Without you this important study would not be possible. 

Join us for the next survey

We conduct annual surveys for two weeks, during early May. We invite volunteers who are active birders, able to camp and be self-sufficient for this period, and have access to suitable 4WD vehicles capable of travelling along basic station tracks. You will have the opportunity to see some truly incredible country and participate in an ongoing effort to protect our truly unique grasswrens. If you are interested please contact Kath Shurcliff.

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