26 September 2023

Goldilocks bird finds new house bearable

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The population of one of Australia’s most critically-endangered bird species has been boosted with the first-ever release in NSW of 10 plains-wanderers.

Congratulating the NSW Saving our Species team, Minister for the Environment, James Griffin said the release was a monumental step towards reversing the plight of the small, ground-dwelling species.

“It’s thought there are now less than 1,000 of these birds in the wild due to threats including grassland habitat loss, severe drought and fox attacks,” Mr Griffin said.

“But now we’re working in partnership with private landholders to restore their habitat and protect it so plains-wanderers can thrive,” he said.

“These birds demonstrate the importance of native grasslands and ecosystems and, by protecting them, we’re helping to conserve native grassland habitat, which is critical for a range of other species.”

Mr Griffin said the Saving our Species plains-wanderer program was supported by the Biodiversity Conservation Trust, Local Land Services and Taronga Conservation Society Australia.

The Minister said the birds, which were released onto private properties in the Western Riverina near Hay, were hatched at Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Taronga Zoo and Werribee Open Range Zoo.

“Affectionately dubbed the Goldilocks bird, they’ve been reintroduced into managed habitat that suits their specific requirements that is not too open and not too dense,” he said.

Chief Executive of Taronga Conservation Society Australia, Cameron Kerr said plains-wanderers were a unique Australian bird, whose genetic history dated back millions of years, “which is why breeding and releasing these birds back into the wild is so important”.

“This first NSW release is a huge milestone in our conservation efforts for this species and it is so rewarding seeing these little birds returned to their wild habitat, where we hope they will thrive,” Mr Kerr said.

He said further releases were expected in this year, with 37 birds in the conservation breeding program at Taronga Western Plains Zoo and eight birds at Taronga Zoo Sydney.

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