Bushfires, climate impact Aussie birds
A worrying number of Australia's birds are nearer to extinction than they were a decade ago due to climate change and bushfires, researchers say.
Habitat loss and feral animals are also pushing the 216 threatened bird types closer to being wiped out, a Charles Darwin University and BirdLife Australia report found.
"Without changes many species will continue to decline or to be lost altogether," conservation biologist and lead editor Stephen Garnett said.
Birds such as the fernwren and golden bowerbird have been forced towards mountaintops as rising temperatures affect their rainforest habitat in Queensland's tropics.
All told, 96 bird types became more threatened in the past 10 years.
Among the 77 species threatened by the increasing number of bushfires, 26 were made more threatened by the Black Summer blazes in 2019-20.
This includes 16 on Kangaroo Island in South Australia, almost half of which was burned by an out-of-control bushfire.
The tiny Kangaroo Island southern emu wren is among them.
More than 90 bird species have also been affected by more frequent and severe droughts and heatwaves across the nation in the past decade.
That list includes one of Australia's rarest birds: the mukarrthipi grasswren of central western NSW, a species with only two or three pairs left.
More than 300 experts have contributed to the study, bringing together 10 years of monitoring and assessment of Australia's 1299 bird types.
Titled an Action Plan for Australian Birds 2020, it also shows the situation could have been much worse.
Conservation efforts across the country have prevented the further decline of 23 birds.
The Norfolk Island green parrot, Albert's lyrebird and Bulloo grey grasswren are among those that have an improved conservation status due to ongoing efforts to protect them against threats and safeguard their habitats in reserves and national parks.
The report also describes how declining populations of several key species have been stabilised or increased.
These include the eastern hooded plover, Kangaroo Island glossy black-cockatoo and eastern bristlebird.
"Our action plan is a measure of our performance as a society of how we treat the birds in our collective care," BirdLife Australia chief executive Paul Sullivan said.
"Species with well-resourced conservation efforts have held the line.
"With proper investment, more populations will increase by the next plan."
The plan was last released in 2011 when there were 195 bird species on the threatened list.
It provides an overview of the risk of extinction of all birds in Australia and its territories and is published by the CSIRO Publishing.
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