Re­mark­able dis­cov­ery of re­mark­able bird at Patho

The Riverine Herald - - NEWS -

HI, I’M a Plains-Wan­derer and you should be priv­i­leged for the sight­ing.

Be­cause it’s not very of­ten I am heard and when I am it’s not very of­ten I am seen.

And that’s be­cause I am con­sid­ered threat­ened and am listed as crit­i­cally en­dan­gered. There’s less than 1000 ma­ture ver­sions of me left in the wild. Not to men­tion I’m quite small in size and can be elu­sive. Ge­net­i­cally speak­ing, I am listed as the fourth most im­por­tant species world­wide, and the first in Aus­tralia in evo­lu­tion­ary dis­tinc­tive­ness and ex­tinc­tion risk.

If birds could speak that’s prob­a­bly what this lit­tle chick would have said when the na­tional Plain­sWan­derer re­cov­ery team and other rep­re­sen­ta­tives dis­cov­ered her dur­ing a rare sight­ing at Patho Plains, near Echuca re­cently.

She would have also men­tioned that landown­ers could do their bit to save her from ex­tinc­tion by sup­port­ing the man­age­ment and pro­tec­tion of grass­land, both on pri­vate and pub­lic land.

Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­ment, Land, Wa­ter and Plan­ning nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment pro­gram man­ager Jill Flem­ing said 18 mem­bers from the re­cov­ery team were in Echuca for its bi-an­nual meet­ing last week.

‘‘We shared what’s been hap­pen­ing and the progress we’ve made on the na­tional Plain­sWan­derer re­cov­ery plan ac­tions of sup­port­ing, iden­ti­fy­ing and pro­tect­ing this threat­ened species,’’ she said.

‘‘Great strides have been made in cre­at­ing and main­tain­ing suit­able habi­tat in dif­fer­ent parts of Aus­tralia for the Plains-Wan­der­ers to breed and sound mon­i­tor­ing of the wild birds has dis­cov­ered un­known pop­u­la­tions.

“The cap­tive breed­ing pro­grams have been created to en­sure the long-term sur­vival of the species. ‘‘

Ms Flem­ing said ex­act num­bers of how many birds were left in the wild across Vic­to­ria, NSW and South Aus­tralia were un­clear as mon­i­tor­ing at night was ‘‘very time con­sum­ing and only cov­ers a frac­tion of the po­ten­tial habi­tat at any one time’’.

“This past spring, song me­ter mon­i­tor­ing as­sisted us in find­ing fe­male Plains-Wan­der­ers call­ing for a mate,’’ she said.

‘‘Pri­vate land man­agers have agreed to have song me­ters set up on their prop­er­ties and the team is sup­port­ing them to man­age their pad­dock veg­e­ta­tion to cre­ate suit­able habi­tat for these lit­tle threat­ened birds. As part of the na­tional re­cov­ery plan, a tri-state cap­tive breed­ing pro­gram is un­der­way. The song me­ter re­sults will pro­vide a river­ine­ greater un­der­stand­ing of where un­oc­cu­pied suit­able habi­tat is for the fu­ture re­lease of cap­tive birds.’’

The NPWR team in­cludes ex­perts and land man­agers from across Aus­tralia who have joined forces to help pro­tect this threat­ened species from be­com­ing ex­tinct.

Mean­while, in a Vic­to­rian-first Wer­ribee Open Range Zoo has suc­cess­fully bred the na­tive an­i­mal, which is so ge­net­i­cally dis­tinct that there are no other birds quite like it in the world.

Quag­mire, Jane, Ram­ble and Clin­ton have been born to parents Genevieve and Woods ear­lier this month.

In a spe­cially de­signed breed­ing fa­cil­ity, the chicks rep­re­sent a huge mile­stone and an im­por­tant step to­wards fight­ing the ex­tinc­tion.

“Breed­ing four healthy chicks is a huge achieve­ment and one we are all very ex­cited about ... to lose such an an­cient, unique species would be com­pletely dev­as­tat­ing,” Wer­ribee Open Range Zoo threat­ened species keeper Yvette Pauligk said.

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