Remarkable discovery of remarkable bird at Patho
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 riverineherald.com.au 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.