Hard work pays off for endangered Fleurieu emu-wren

News release
13 June 2018

Southern Emu-wren. Photo: Martin Stokes

Photo credit: Martin Stokes.

Volunteers and ecologists are celebrating two sightings of an endangered bird foraging in native vegetation that was planted specifically to help save the species from extinction.

The Mt Lofty Ranges Southern Emu-wren is under threat, due to loss of heathland habit and changing bushfire regimes, with the population down to just a handful in isolated patches, such as Stipiturus Conservation Park  on the Fleurieu Peninsula.

While the bird is rarely seen even at Stipiturus – the park that bears its name – Natural Resources Adelaide and Mt Lofty Ranges Species Ecologist Jason van Weenen said the recent sightings in the revegetation areas were very exciting.

“To our delight, a male emu-wren was spotted earlier this year in February, and then a pair was seen in late May, hanging out in prickly tea-tree, planted especially to help restore their habitat,” he said.

“The additional planted areas for the birds will hopefully lead to an increase in wren numbers in the park.

The tiny russet and sky-blue emu-wren weighs in at just 8 grams. It takes its name from its six long, wispy tail feathers, which are similar to emu feathers.

Volunteers were back in Stipiturus earlier this month, planting more habitat for endangered species during the annual ‘Swampfest’ community event.

More than 100 people took part, planting about 7300 seedlings, including 1000 of endangered species.

Swampfest has become so popular that places at the planting day booked out.

“It’s been a great effort by volunteers over the past eight years,” Mr Weenen said. “They’ve planted thousands of native shrubs in the area and this is helping the emu-wrens and other threatened species.

”This planting project is adding dense shrubs, which the birds use for foraging and hiding, back into a degraded landscape.”

Volunteers planted prickly tea-tree, a species of melaleuca called totem poles, and seedlings of the endangered Mt Compass oak-bush, of which more than 900 now thrive in the park thanks to the plantings.

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Natural Resources Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges