Endangered bird spotted in Northern Territory

By Bridget Brennan 13 July 2009
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A threatened bird species has been spied in a new part of the country.

A POPULATION OF A rare bird species, the northern shrike-tit, has been sighted in north-east Arnhem Land for the first time.

Scientists from the Department of Natural Resources, Environment, the Arts and Sport (NRETAS) and indigenous Yirralka rangers made the discovery while surveying the flora and fauna of the Laynhapuy Homelands, 75 km south-west from Nhulunbuy.

Classified in the Northern Territory as vulnerable, northern shrike-tits – a sub-species of the crested shrike-tit – are endemic to north-western Australia.

Dr Simon Ward, an NRETAS research scientist, says the find was particularly exciting because the species is thinly-spread across the Top End – usually spotted in the Katherine region or north-western WA.

“The newest sightings recorded for the species are 150 kilometres away from the area where we found them,” said Simon

Sightings help scientists to better understand northern shrike-tits

“Because northern shrike-tits are sparsely-spread, they have habitat preferences that we don’t fully understand.” said Simon. “It’s only through these discoveries that we can build up a better picture of the species.”

Simon said the scientists and rangers are eager to return to the area in the future to learn more about the species.

The survey area is proposed to form part of the 690,000 ha Laynhapuy Indigenous Protected Area which is home to a number of endangered species, including the Gove crow butterfly, turtles and dugong, and other poorly-known endemic species.