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Congratulations to the 18th Cassowary Award winners announced on the 19th June 2021, especially to Innovation Award Winner, Dominic Chaplin.

Dominic Chaplin is recognised as the driving force of BirdLife Northern Queensland's Bowerbird Monitoring project. Since Dominic first took up the challenge to survey the location of Golden bowerbird bowers and Tooth-billed bowerbird display courts, he has traversed the length and breadth of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area and Wet Tropics bioregion from Mt Finnigan in the north to Mt Elliot in the south. In this comprehensive survey, Dominic and his survey companions have mapped the positions of around 100 Golden bowerbird bowers and 650 Tooth-billed bowerbird courts, providing an unparalleled baseline for monitoring the distribution of these species threatened by climate change. As Professor Stephen Garnett of the Threatened Species Recovery Hub told BirdLife Northern Queensland: “The bowerbird monitoring led by Dom has been instrumental in creating a strong baseline for future monitoring of the north Queensland bowerbird species, a body of work whose value will only increase with time."

Many of the locations Dominic Chaplin has surveyed for bowerbirds have no walking tracks and getting to the higher elevations where bowerbirds occur is strenuous work, undertaken in hotter months. It has taken energy, endurance, and a certain disregard for mosquitoes and stinging tree for Dominic to achieve what he has for Wet Tropics birds.

Professor Stephen Garnett, lead author of the upcoming Action Plan for Australian Birds, told BirdLife Northern Queensland: "I was most grateful that Dom agreed to make the bowerbird information freely available for the upcoming revision of the Action Plan where he is among the authors for all four bowerbird chapters”.

The Wet Tropics Management Authority’s Cassowary Awards were established in 1999 to celebrate and support the outstanding contributions made towards the conservation and presentation of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. The Innovation Cassowary Award recognises original, creative contribution and innovative research that has improved or advanced understanding and management of the Wet Tropics Area. Dominic has certainly done that.

If you would like to learn more about bowerbird monitoring, Dominic is presenting a Bowerbird Monitoring talk in Cairns 11 October and in Malanda 14 October prior to BirdLife Northern Queensland’s Bowerbird monitoring weekend. Check out our events page for details.


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