Bird calls key to flock drop
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.