I find a link on the BAus website, so perhaps Hugo Phillipps can help us out ...
Farm pressure catches up with the emu
Date: July 2 2002
By Melissa Fyfe
It is big, sometimes quite scary, and it holds up half the Australian coat of
arms. The emu may seem tough, but the nation's most extensive bird survey has
found the flightless icon is vulnerable and in significant decline.
The survey, to be published as the New Atlas of Australian Birds in December,
shows a 50 per cent drop in emu sightings over the past 20 years.
Yesterday, as it launched the findings yesterday - completed by 7000 people
making 4.3 million bird recordings - Birds Australia admitted that the emu
decline was a surprise.
Birds Australia believes the drop may be due to changes in land use such as
intensive farming. "It is an alarming fall," said Birds Australia chief
executive Jim Downey. "As with all species that have declined, the reasons need
to be verified and we need to work with landowners to try to reverse that
The survey revealed mixed fortunes for the nation's native birds and introduced
pests such as the common myna. About half the 422 birds analysed showed no
change since the first atlas, completed between 1977 and 1981, but 15 per cent
have declined. Worst affected were ground-feeding birds such as the spotted
quail-thrush, which are vulnerable to feral cats and foxes.
Clearing of woodlands destroyed habitat for birds such as the scarlet robin,
while destruction of native grasslands made life difficult for the brown song
lark and Richard's pipit.
For 37 per cent of Australia's birds, however, things improved. Mobile species
such as pigeons, parrots, lorikeets and honeyeaters have thrived, especially
with higher rainfalls in this survey period.
The clearing of land for farms favoured galahs and corellas, while nest
predators such as the pied currawong were winners when tree cover disappeared
and woodland was fragmented.
The survey was presented to federal Environment Minister David Kemp, who
described it as a "remarkable endeavour".
He announced that five bird species - the Round Island petrel, the herald
petrel, the King Island scrubtit, the yellow chat, and the spotted quail-thrush
- would be listed as threatened under the Environment Protection and
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