what is the rarest bird in australia

Fresh surveys reveal the known population of one of Australias rarest birds has expanded to new areas, offering fresh hope for its survival.

The Mukarrthippi grasswren is the Australian bird most likely to go extinct, with a significant 60% risk by 2041. The critically endangered bird was previously spotted at 2 locations in and near Yathong Nature Reserve in central-west New South Wales, and in 2021, the total population was estimated to be between 4 and 20 birds.

However, recent surveys have discovered the Mukarrthippi grasswren at 3 new locations within Yathong Nature Reserve, more than 6 kilometres away from the previously known habitat. These new sites feature the birds preferred spinifex and mallee habitat.

To protect and restore the Mukarrthippi grasswren, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service is declaring core habitat as an asset of intergenerational significance, providing stronger legislative protection under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974.

Special fire management plans are being developed, and the habitat will be included in a large feral predator-free area to prevent the rare bird being killed by cats. Research and monitoring efforts, including remote-sensing surveys to map key habitat, are ongoing.

“Mukarrthippi” [mook-wah-tippy] translates to “small bird of the spinifex” in the language of the Ngiyampaa people. The Mukarrthippi grasswren is a subspecies of the striated grasswren.

They measure 14.5 to 19 cm long and weigh 15-23 grams, approximately the same as 2 AA batteries. Their slender bill, long blackish-brown tail, soft reddish-brown upperparts with white streaks, and buff underparts with heavy white streaking on the breast make them distinctive.

The survey and conservation efforts have been undertaken in collaboration with BirdLife Australia and have received funding from Saving our Species.

“The Mukarrthippi Grasswren is one of Australias rarest birds so finding more of them in new locations is a huge boost to our efforts to prevent its extinction.

“This discovery is thanks to dedicated field scientists who have been searching for the little bird in one of our most remote national parks.

“NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service is working to protect and restore this very elusive bird through fire management and feral animal control strategies.

“I hope the discovery will inspire many citizen scientists to take part in the 10th annual Aussie Bird Count this weekend, as National Bird Week draws to a close.”

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Long believed to be extinct, this small, enigmatic, grey-brown ghost of the dusty saltbush plains of far western NSW As few as five birds were thought to exist at the time of the 2010 action plan, and they had only been rediscovered in 2008. Inspired by this dire situation, BirdLife Australia provided funding for a vigorous search that was successful in finding nearly 60 birds. However, on the few properties where it is known to survive, mining developments pose a threat, so it is still in the woods (saltbush).

By 1988, there was only one female owl remaining on the entire island, bringing this tiny bird as close to extinction as is humanly possible. Its closest relative, the New Zealand morepork, was introduced, and this resulted in the development of a hybrid population. By 2019, the estimated number of birds on the island was between 25 and 50. But since 2008, there have only been two successful breeding events recorded, and only four pairs were known. Although it is anticipated that the majority of the surviving birds are too old to reproduce, there is some hope because two chicks were successfully raised in 2019.

The Mukkarthippi grasswren, which means “small bird of the spinifex” in the local Ngiyampaa language, was only formally recognized as a separate subspecies of the more common striated grasswren in 2020. Of the estimated 20 birds in the population, only three or four pairs are known to have survived.

This obscure little bird that streaks between spiky clumps of spinifex in a small area of mallee in the Cobar shire of western NSW is a strong contender for the lowest population of any Australian bird that we can count. Other candidates include the Tiwi hooded robin and Coxen’s fig-parrot, both of which we cannot definitively say still exist.

The orange-bellied parrot, perhaps the most well-known of all our seriously endangered birds, was the first bird in Australia to have a recovery plan created for it, back in 1984. It was still regarded as the second most likely Australian bird to go extinct in 2018 despite the fact that only two wild females had successfully raised chicks in 2016 at their single surviving Tasmanian nesting site, demonstrating the long-term nature of conservation efforts for extremely threatened species. However, things seemed to have finally turned the corner. Following two prosperous seasons, which were enhanced by the release of numerous captive-bred birds, sixty-two wild orange-bellied parrots have made a comeback to their breeding grounds.


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