Recovering Mallee birds
Why are Mallee birds under threat?
The recovering Mallee birds project is primarily focused on woodland bird species of conservation concern found in the SAMDB Mallee landscapes these include:
- black-eared miner
- Mallee emu-wren
- red-lored whistler
- regent parrot
- striated grasswren
- Western whipbird.
While each species has their own unique threats, this project seeks to address common threats, namely habitat fragmentation from over-grazing, predators, and fire. Mallee woodland birds need diverse and healthy vegetation to provide food, cover from predators and nesting sites. High numbers of native and introduced herbivores such as rabbits, feral goats and kangaroos grazing in these areas prevent regeneration and maintain a simple vegetation structure, this leaves many birds without sufficient habitat to survive.
Herbivores continue to be attracted to these areas for two key reasons:
1) the plant regeneration following bushfires provides food, and
2) man-made dams built for previous pastoral use provide a much more reliable water source than is natural in the Mallee landscape.
What is the recovering Mallee birds project?
Natural Resources SA Murray-Darling Basin (SAMDB) is aiming to protect and restore areas of Mallee habitat within the SA Murray-Darling Basin region to secure and expand the populations and distributions of woodland bird species. Importantly the project also aims to increase scientific understanding and general awareness among land managers and the broader community of these bird species and their needs.
More intact ecosystems are more resilient to pressures and stresses and more adaptable to climate variability. The recovering Mallee birds project uses an integrated approach of dealing with threats that are common to multiple Mallee bird species to help the ecosystem to function better as a whole.
The project concentrates on large, relatively continuous areas of native vegetation which have greater potential for sustainable function to be restored. These landscapes include a combination of public and privately owned conservation areas, much of which has been retired from pastoral grazing
What is being done?
There will be an improved understanding of threatened Mallee bird distributions and population trends through analysing existing data and conducting new surveys. This project will also improve our knowledge of the impact of predators and the effectiveness of predator control methods on Malleefowl.
On-ground works for this project include:
- undertaking a strategic herbivore control program, including the removal of feral goats from major infested areas and immigration routes across 75,000 hectares
- improving the habitat for threatened Mallee birds through direct seeding at previously flattended dam sites
- decommissioning former pastoral dams and revegetating sites
- strategic rolling of fire-breaks to inform prescribed fire programs to reduce fire risks to Mallee bird population and promote habitat diversity.
The project is funded until June 2019, and is awaiting approval to be funded by the National Landcare Program until 2023.
Natural Resources SA Murray-Darling Basin
Australian Landscape Trust, Murray Mallee Local Action Planning, National Malleefowl Recovery Group Inc, Birdlife Australia and RLB Ecology.
This project is supported by the South Australian Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program and the NRM levies.