THREATENED SPECIES

THREATENED SPECIES IN OUR REGION:
THE 2020 UPDATE

Following the recent publication of the Action Plan for Australian Birds 2020 (Garnett and Baker) it is timely to consider the change in threat status for birds in our region.

I have reviewed the new Action Plan with this in mind and the following Table lists the various species with the status of each species in the 2010 Action Plan and then the same species status in the 2020 Action Plan. The assessments made in each case are based on criteria used by IUCN in determining conservation status at the global level. The conclusions in the recently released 2020 Action Plan are those of the authors and experts consulted. Many of these will not yet be matched by updated assessments by either State or National Government, so the status shown is an expert view (not necessarily legal at this point). It is however highly likely that State and National assessments will be aligned with the Action Plan eventually. As far as BirdLife Australia is concerned, the level of threats indicated in the Action Plan is a call for action.

There are 58 species covered in the Table and 9 of these are now considered as Least Concern (LC). The remaining 49 species are assessed as having some level of conservation concern. In some cases, with migratory species, the principal threats may be outside of Australia. But in many cases, there are local threats that we can address at State or National level. In very few cases is there a recovery plan available to guide actions. The last column provides brief comment.

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IUCN CONSERVATION STATUS

NORTHERN QUEENSLAND SPECIES

Species
2010
2020
Comment
Bower’s Shrike-thrush
LC
V
Climate change T&R
Eastern Whipbird (WT)
LC
V
Climate change T&R
Victoria’s Riflebird
LC
V
Climate change T&R
Grey-headed Robin
LC
NT
Climate change T&R
White-bellied Crimson Finch
NT
LC
Hot fire, overgrazing
Star Finch (CY)
NT
LC
Fire management, grazing (limited)
Black-throated Finch (north)
LC
LC
Over grazing, fire, (limited)
Gouldian Finch
NT
LC
Over-grazing, fire frequency
Southern Cassowary
V
LC
Stable pop and habitat
White-throated Needletail
LC
V
Wind turbines OZ, habitat loss in Northern Hemisphere
Sarus Crane
LC
LC
Global V
Beach Stone-curlew
LC
LC
Global NT
Grey Plover
NT
V
OZ beach dogs; Stopover habitat loss
Lesser Sand Plover
E
E
OZ nil, stopover sites
Greater Sand Plover
V
NT
OZ nil, stopover sites
Australian Painted Snipe
E
E
Wetland loss
Whimbrel
NT
LC
OZ nil, habitat loss
Far Eastern Curlew
V
E
OZ disturbance, dogs; stopover and habitat
Bar-tailed Godwit
V
E
OZ disturbance, dogs; stopover and habitat
Black-tailed Godwit
NT
E
OZ nil, stopover and habitat
Ruddy Turnstone
NT
E
OZ disturbance; stopover habitat GW
Great Knot
V
NT
OZ nil, stopover, habitat
Red Knot
V
V
OZ disturbance, dogs; stopover, habitat GW
Sharp-tailed Sandpiper
LC
V
OZ droughts; stopover, habitat
Curlew Sandpiper
V
E
OZ drought, disturbance, dogs; stopover, habitat
Red-necked Stint
LC
NT
OZ drought; stopover, habitat
Asian Dowitcher
NT
V
OZ nil; stopover
Latham’s Snipe
LC
V
OZ drought, fires; habitat
Terek Sandpiper
LC
V
OZ nil, stopover, habitat
Grey-tailed Tattler
LC
LC
OZ nil; stopover minor
Common Greenshank
LC
V
OZ nil; stopover and habitat
Buff-breasted Button-quail
E
CE
Habitat loss, fires, grazing, probable cats
Little Tern
LC
V
Nest losses, mainly NSW; disturbance
Fairy Tern (Indo-Pacific)
V
V
Nest loss; sea level rise, mainland pigs
Cape York Masked Owl
LC
NT
Overgrazing, habitat change, cats
Barking Owl (Southern)
NT
NT
Habitat loss, prey shortage, rodenticides
Southern Boobook
LC
NT
Rodenticides, nest sites, feral bees
Letter-winged Kite
NT
NT
Prey shortage, cats
Red Goshawk
NT
E
Habitat loss, fire?
Grey Falcon
V
V
Limited threats, GW?
Glossy Black-Cockatoo
LC
V
Occurrence unclear
Palm Cockatoo
V
E
Habitat loss, mining, tree hollow loss
Golden-shouldered Parrot
E
E
Cattle grazing; fire management, habitat
Wet Tropics King Parrot
LC
E
Climate change, Temp and Rainfall variation
Eclectus Parrot
NT
E
Cyclone damage (nest hollows)
Tooth-billed Bowerbird
LC
NT
Climate change T&R
Golden Bowerbird
LC
NT
Climate change T&R
Wet Tropics Satin Bowerbird
LC
NT
Climate change T&R
Little Treecreeper
LC
NT
Climate change T&R
Purple-crowned Fairywren (E)
NT
V
Grazing, weeds, fire
Carpentarian Grasswren
NT
V
Severe fires
Kalkadoon Grasswren
LC
V
Severe fires
Lewin’s Honeyeater (Mc.Ra)
LC
V
Climate change, poor data
Fernwren
LC
E
Climate change T&R
Brown Gerygone (WT)
LC
E
Climate change T&R
Atherton Scrubwren
LC
V
Climate change T&R
Large-billed Scrubwren (WT)
LC
V
Climate change T&R
Mountain Thornbill
LC
V
Climate change T&R

Table I – Change in Conservation Status 2010–2020, bird species within BirdLife Northern Queensland  regional interest

 

LC = Least Concern; NT = Near Threatened; V = Vulnerable; E = Endangered; CE = Critically Endangered; in decreasing order of security. T&R = Temperature and Rainfall; GW = Global Warming.

 

Data taken from Garnett, ST, Baker, GB  (2021)  The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2020, CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne. 808 pp

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TAKE HOME MESSAGE

In the decade between assessments, six species in our region have gone from a less secure to a more secure status. These are the good news outcomes, although that change is mainly about better data allowing better assessment. Twelve species retain the threat status of the previous assessment, which while disappointing at least does not imply a declining situation. But most worrying is the fact that forty species have gone from a more secure situation to a less secure one in the past decade.

 

Fourteen of these species are wet tropics taxa threatened by climate change and we now know about their situation thanks to the long-running surveys of Steve Williams (and others). The quality of those data enable much confidence in the results and should be an immediate wake-up call to the Australian Government about the urgency of a much stronger response on climate change. Some of the species of concern are international waders, where the principal threats often include climate change in their northern hemisphere breeding grounds. But for some of those species disturbance on their Australian feeding grounds, from humans and unrestrained dogs, is a serious issue and we can take local action. 

Little thorough survey work is being done and the Williams work has ceased; there are many species for which we do not know the status, and others for whom we may have got it wrong. But enough indicators do raise serious concerns for our birds. Some species might be absent because this work only concerns IUCN Conservation Status. For example, Macleay’s Fig Parrot (our local Wet Tropics subspecies) has not been listed by IUCN but is listed as Vulnerable under the Queensland Nature Conservation Act, although in this case I believe it is simply an administrative error within the Department. For some of these species the work of BirdLife Northern Queensland has been a significant contributor to knowledge about them.

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