Liverpool Plains Woodland Birds - Final Update (long)

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Subject: Liverpool Plains Woodland Birds - Final Update (long)
From: "Peter Ekert" <>
Date: Tue, 23 Apr 2002 15:44:53 +1000


A Birds Australia project funded by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF),Natural Heritage Trust (NHT) and the Threatened Species Network (TSN)

In January 2001, Birds Australia commenced a study to assess the distribution of birds, targeting threatened and declining woodland birds, in the Liverpool Plains catchment (north-west slopes and plains of NSW). It was hoped that this study would assist in the conservation of woodland birds within the region. To achieve this aim, Birds Australia worked in partnership with local landowners, the Liverpool Plains Land Management Committee (LPLMC), World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the Threatened Species Network (TSN), the Natural Heritage Trust (NHT), and the Tamworth Bird Watchers Inc.

An important first step in identifying what birds occurred in the region over the past 20 years, was to examine data from the Birds Australia Atlas Projects, (1st Atlas 1977-1981; 2nd Atlas 1998-2002). There were 204 surveys conducted during the 1st Atlas in the Liverpool Plains. Prior to October 2001, there were 202 surveys conducted for the 2nd Atlas across 103 separate locations (sites).

Commencing in October 2001, Birds Australia with the help of over 50 volunteer bird watchers, conducted a series of bird surveys across areas of private and crown land, public reserves, travelling stock routes, and State Forests within the Liverpool Plains. These surveys mainly occurred over weekends and incorporated over 30 separate landholders, who had expressed their concern in the decline of birds on their properties and allowed us to conduct surveys on their land. After January 2002, there were 521 surveys conducted across 397 sites in the Liverpool Plains. This meant that this project facilitated a 61% increase in the number of Atlas surveys and a 74% increase in the number of survey sites in the Liverpool Plains.

A comprehensive review of literature and other information indicated that the Liverpool Plains:

  • contained a mosaic of habitat types including grassland and open woodland;

  • held an Endangered Ecological Community that is listed under the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995;

  • was the most productive agricultural area in the country, and that clearing and other habitat change had been widespread.

The data showed that the Liverpool Plains supports:

  • 248 bird species;

  • 32 species listed under the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995;

  • 18 guilds of birds;

  • a relatively low incidence of introduced bird species;

  • a number of woodlands, particularly State Forests that support a high diversity of birds;

  • a number of sites that are of high conservation value for a number of threatened and declining woodland bird species;

The results also indicated that a number of threatened and declining woodland species have become locally extinct in the Liverpool Plains. These include the Crested Bellbird, White-browed Babbler, Painted Button-quail, Malleefowl, and Square-tailed Kite. Another species, the Hooded Robin showed a substantial decline. Most of the guilds represented in the region showed a substantial decline, suggesting that a range of processes were affecting birds that are ecologically diverse.

Key areas for bird species in the Liverpool Plains include the State Forests within the region. By virtue of their relatively large size and a higher structural complexity, these areas support a higher diversity of bird species, including many threatened and declining species. Many of the sites on private land also supported a number of threatened and declining woodland birds, indicating that landholders will play a pivotal role in the conservation of biodiversity.

In addition to providing baseline data into the distribution of birds and the hotspots for birds in the Plains, data generated from these surveys are integral in the next phase of the project, which is to deliver conservation outcomes on private land. Over the next few months, Birds Australia will continue to work with the Liverpool Plains Land Management Committee and the Department of Land & Water Conservation to survey birds occurring along watercourses, woodlands and cropping areas on low lying slopes and plains.

Birds Australia would like to take this opportunity to thank all those people who assisted in the project. A special thank you to the volunteer bird watchers who travelled far and wide to participate in field surveys and campouts throughout the region. The amount of data collected as part of this project was testimony to the dedication and enthusiasm of these keen bird watchers and naturalists. Special thanks also to the many landholders, who kindly allowed bird surveys and campouts to be conducted on their property, and as such contributed enormously to providing information on the birds of the region.

For those interested, the final report is available for loan from the libraries of Birds Australia (Melbourne), SNAG (Southern NSW & Act Group – Crows Nest), and at The Wetlands Centre (Newcastle). There are also limited copies available from the Birding Shop in Melbourne and from The Wetlands Centre.


Ekert, P.A.  (2002).  The Woodland Birds of The Liverpool Plains, NSW. Final Project Report 2002.  Report on behalf of Birds Australia for World Wide Fund for Nature, Natural Heritage Trust, Threatened Species Network.

Peter A. Ekert
Birds Australia Project Co-ordinator
(Liverpool Plains Woodland Bird Project (North NSW))
NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service
(Rufous Scrub-bird monitoring program in North-east NSW)
The Wetlands Centre Ecologist
The Wetlands Centre
PO Box 292
Ph. 02 49516466     Mob.  0410566104     Fax.  02 49501875
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