Atlas Results

Subject: Atlas Results
From: Rory Poulter - Atlas Project <>
Date: Tue, 27 Jun 2000 07:40:49 +1000
Hi everyone

I would like to share with you some of the findings in the new Atlas (1998
- 2000) which I have found earlier in the year. Only one or two days a year
do I get the chance to have a good look at the Atlas data.

Below is a list of some of the more common species showing a significant
decrease in reporting (of greater than 40%) compared to the first Atlas of
1977 - 1981.

Spotted Harier
Black Falcon
Nankeen Kestrel
Brown Falcon
Black-shouldered Kite
Wedge-tailed Eagle
Barn Owl

Orange Chat
Brown Songlark
Ground Cuckoo-shrike
Singing Bushlark
Richard's Pipit
Banded Lapwing

Australian Bustard
Australian Pranticole
Little Penguin
White-necked Heron
Yellow-billed Spoonbill
Stubble Quail
Red-browed Treecreeper
Varied Lorikeet
White-throated Needletail

In the first group are the raptors and owls. After being artificially high
in numbers for decades they have now come down to more normal levels.
Whatever normal is? They may have gone below normal levels with increased
competition and reduced prey. In contrast coastal raptors are showing an
increase in reporting: Osprey, Brahminy Kite, White-bellied Sea-eagle.

The second group contains a diverse group of species, but one thing they
all have in common is that they are ground dwellers and not associated with
water. The main conclusion that I can think of for the significant decrease
in these species is predation by feral cats, as well as foxes which add to
the problem.
Other ground dwelling species showing a decrease in reporting include
Skylark (quite dramatic), Chirruping Wedgebill (but not Chiming Wedgebill),
Rufous Songlark, Southern Whiteface, White-fronted Chat, Gibberbird, Inland
Spotted Quail-thrush.

To me the most dramatic outcome of this Atlas is the finding on the ground
dwelling (non-water) bird species. 20 years ago feral cats and foxes
appeared to have little impact on ground dwelling bird species. Now 20
years later they appear to be having a significant impact. As well as on
other small native animals.
It is now a challenge for the Australian government and people to find
effective solutions to the feral cat and fox problem.

Below is a list in order of the top 20 most commonly reported species in
the two Atlases.

First Atlas 1977 - 1981 New Atlas 1998 - 2000
Australian Magpie               Austalian Magpie
Willie Wagtail          Willie Wagtail
Magpie Lark             Magpie Lark
Welcome Swallow         Galah
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike       Welcome Swallow
Galah                   Laughing Kookaburra
White-faced Heron               Grey Fantail
Laughing Kookaburra     Superb Fairy-wren
Nankeen Kestrel         Grey Shrike-thrush
Common Starling         Red Wattlebird
Masked Lapwing          Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike
Grey Shrike-thrush              Australian Raven
Grey fantail            Crested Pigeon
Australian Raven                Pacific Black Duck
Richards Pipit          Striated pardalote
House Sparrow           Common Starling
Pacific Black Duck              Masked lapwing
Superb Fairy-wren               White-faced Heron
Crested pigeon          Silvereye
Yellow-rumped Thornbill Crimson Rosella

Richard's Pipit was the 15th most commoly reported species in the first
Atlas, in the new Atlas it is now 77th.
Nankeen Kestrel was the 9th most commoly reported species in the first
Atlas, in the new Atlas it is now 55th.
The significant changes in these two species are symptomonious of what has
happened in the last 20 years to the two groups of birds, the birds of prey
and the ground dwellers.
The Emu and Richard's Pipit were the first two species we picked up as
showing a significant trend, barely a year into the Atlas.

There are some groups of species that are doing very well and showing an
increase in reporting, such as; Thornbills/Wrens, Honeyeaters,
Rosellas/Lorikeets, Doves/Pigeons, Corvids/Butcherbird.
Western Australian species are doing well partly due to this state having
its wettest three year period on record.
Ibis/Herons and some water birds are showing a decrease as well as some

There are too many species to give mention of here.


Rory Poulter
Database Custodian

Birds Australia Atlas Project
415 Riversdale Road
Hawthorn East,  Victoria, Australia  3123

(Ph) 03 9882 2622
(Fax) 03 9882 2677

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