Bird calls key to flock drop

Shepparton News - Country News - - COBRAM HORSE TRIALS -

Next time you’re tempted to squawk back at cock­a­toos in Vic­to­ria, just re­mem­ber re­searchers have set up sound recorders near their nests to find out why their num­bers are down.

The recorders are be­ing set up across farm­land be­tween Port­land and Eden­hope near the South Aus­tralian bor­der, as part of re­search on the south-eastern red-tailed black cock­a­too.

The black-feath­ered cock­a­toos are an en­dan­gered species and con­sid­ered one of Aus­tralia’s rarest birds.

They are only found in south-west Vic­to­ria and South Aus­tralia’s lower south­east.

Re­searchers hope the recorders will cap­ture bird calls dur­ing the breed­ing sea­son and help them un­der­stand their low flock counts over the last few sea­sons.

DELWP and the Univer­sity of Queens­land are re­spon­si­ble for in­stalling the recorders.

‘‘It’s be­lieved a lack of suc­cess with nest­ing is a key rea­son for their low pop­u­la­tion, and we’re hop­ing to find out what’s caus­ing this,’’ DELWP se­nior bio­di­ver­sity of­fi­cer Richard Hill said.

It’s an­tic­i­pated each recorder will cap­ture more than 150 gi­ga­bytes of au­dio for anal­y­sis and are pro­grammed to record at cer­tain times of the day.

‘‘The au­dio will be used to de­ter­mine the suc­cess of par­tic­u­lar nests, by iden­ti­fy­ing spe­cific calls from par­ent birds and their chicks,’’ Mr Hill said.

Univer­sity of Queens­land re­searcher Daniella Teix­eira says the au­dio will help de­velop semi-au­to­mated meth­ods for de­tect­ing key breed­ing-re­lated bird calls.

The data will also boost con­ser­va­tion ef­forts by pro­vid­ing a cost-ef­fec­tive way to mon­i­tor birds over large ar­eas and for longer pe­ri­ods of time.

‘‘That in­for­ma­tion could be used to make de­ci­sions about habi­tat pro­tec­tion, in re­la­tion to nest­ing habi­tat, fire plan­ning, and the place­ment of ar­ti­fi­cial nests,’’ Ms Teix­eira said.

The re­search is be­ing con­ducted by the Threat­ened Species Re­cov­ery Hub, which is a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween 10 Aus­tralian uni­ver­si­ties and the Aus­tralian Wildlife Con­ser­vancy.

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