Wings on King project will reveal environmental health of King Island

PROJECT TAKES FLIGHT: A new bird monitoring program on King Island will see volunteers observe the birds living on and visiting the island into the future. Picture: Raphaele Tolron

PROJECT TAKES FLIGHT: A new bird monitoring program on King Island will see volunteers observe the birds living on and visiting the island into the future. Picture: Raphaele Tolron

A new initiative to be launched on King Island in April will track the long-term health of the environment to better inform management. 

The Wings on King project will be a bird monitoring project, collaborated on by the King Island Natural Resource Management Group and Birdlife Australia.

“What we’re doing is monitoring the land birds of King Island as a means of tracking how we’re doing environmentally because birds are a really good indicator of environmental health,” Wings on King co-ordinator Kate Ravich said. 

“It’s really about monitoring how clean and green the island really is and whether we’re staying that way, or weather we’re gradually slipping backwards, or whether we’re getting better, or what’s going on.”

The project has established over 50 bird monitoring sites on both private and public land across the island.

It will launch on the last weekend in April with workshops, guests speakers and bird monitoring.

The project will provide yearly data on the birds frequenting the island, which will be fed into the Birdlife Australia atlas of Australian birds and used to inform decisions on environmental management. 

“Essentially the project is a sustainability project,” Ms Ravish said, adding it is focussed on managing King Island’s environmental, economic and social sustainability in harmony. 

Ms Ravich said there is a current lack of knowledge about the birds that inhabit King Island.

“We know very little about the state of land birds on King Island, we know we have six sub-species which are … specific to King Island, two of those are critically endangered and two of those are listed as vulnerable,” she said. 

“We need to be looking at some of the other birds too to say, ‘Well are they good? Are they going well? Are they happy? Or are they also in decline?’.”

The island plays an important role for birds. 

“It’s a biological stepping stone between the mainland and Tasmania,” Ms Ravich said. 

“We have birds here that don’t go further south, so they don’t got to Tasmania proper and we have almost all the Tasmanian birds, which are endemic to Tasmania and don't live an further north.

“A lot of birds which migrate over Bass Strait will stop here, some of them breed and some of them just roost.”

King Island is an important stepping stone between Tasmania and mainland Australia for birds.

King Island is an important stepping stone between Tasmania and mainland Australia for birds.

The project will take a proactive approach to management of birds. 

“With all of this, not only do we need to be working with threatened species but we also need to be keeping our common species common,” Ms Ravich said. 

"Its no use waiting until they're threatened before we start to take notice.”

Ms Ravich hopes the data from Wings on King will help prioritise the scarce resources available for conservation to best effect. 

Anyone interested in the program can find out more and register at www.birdsofkingisland.com

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