From AAP news agency:
Rare bird find in WA’s north boosts hopes
January 19, 2012, 4:09 pm
A breeding population of one Australia’s most endangered bird species has been found in Western Australia’s Kimberley region, boosting hopes that action can be taken to halt the decline in numbers.
Conservation group WWF-Australia said there were currently less than 2500 adult Gouldian finches in the wild, so the discovery of a significant population north of Broome by indigenous rangers and environment groups was exciting.
Indigenous rangers found juvenile birds among the population, marking it as a breeding ground.
There were previously few sightings of the striking, vibrantly coloured species on the Dampier Peninsula.
WWF-Australia’s Kimberley program manager Alexander Watson said the birds were using refuges such as monsoon vine thickets and unburnt woodland.
“We need to find out where they are breeding and whether there is anything we can do to halt the species’ decline,” Dr Watson said in a statement on Thursday.
The reason for the decline of the species is unknown, although scientists speculate that altered fire regimes, cattle, and throat parasites have been contributing factors.
A large pet trade that was banned in the mid-1980s is also thought to have had a significant impact, WWF-Australia said.
Environs Kimberley projects coordinator Louise Beames said the discovery showed how important it was to continue to care for land and improve fire management on the Dampier Peninsula.
Gouldian finch fledglings: here.
Charles Darwin University Research Fellow Dr Judit Szabo and lead author said research showed that the status of Australian birds was declining faster than elsewhere in the world. “The main reason is a rapid decline in migratory shorebirds coming here from Asia and ongoing threats to oceanic seabirds”: here.