Springbrook Rescue
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Bird surveys (Project BD6)

Birds are of exceptional cultural and ecological significance and contribute fundamentally to the Outstanding Universal Value of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage area. The Rufous Scrub-bird and Albert’s Lyrebird represent the oldest lineages of songbirds, each being just one of two species still surviving in their respective families. Both occur at Springbrook, although the Rufous Scrub-bird was last officially recorded in 1991. Thirteen bird species occurring in the Springbrook precinct are listed as threatened: three are endangered (the Red Goshawk, Eastern Bristlebird, Coxen’s Fig-parrot), five are vulnerable to extinction (Rufous Scrub-bird, Glossy Black-Cockatoo, Marbled Frogmouth, Powerful Owl, Black-breasted Button-Quail), and five are near threatened under Queensland legislation (Grey Goshawk, Red-browed Treecreeper, Albert’s Lyrebird, Lewin’s Rail, Sooty Owl).

Rufous Scrub-bird (V).
Photo: Michael Morcombe
Albert’s Lyrebird (NT). Photo: Kimbal Curtis

At least 185 bird species have been recorded at Springbrook. They comprise a full range of functional groups integral to ecosystem health and resilience in this area.

The project’s objective is to obtain data on species richness, abundance and habitat fidelity of avifauna on selected sites as part of an integrated long-term, landscape-scale monitoring program of key functional groups that are indicators of the health and ecological integrity of regenerating forests.

Birds Queensland
Birds Queensland is collaborating with ARCS to carry out long-term seasonal bird surveys in both restoration and benchmark sites. A standardized survey method utilizing “results-based” stopping rules (Watson 2003, 2004) has been adopted. This empirically has the advantage over “effort-based” stopping rules (fixed times and/or fixed areas or quadrats) of enabling more valid comparisons between different sites of varying size and complexity together with providing a reasonable measure of species richness and abundance, or habitat fidelity or preference. Such surveys carried out seasonally over the long-term can also provide indications of the impact of climate change.

Species accumulation curves from preliminary trials on different sites indicate that at least twelve 20-minute searches conducted in the 120 minutes after dawn and before dusk are generally required to reflect close to 75% of actual richness present.

The four selected permanent monitoring sites occur at varying altitudes (from 600 m to almost 1000 m), rainfall regimes (1,800 mm to ≥3,600 mm) and geologies in four different catchments each with known histories of disturbance. The map shows the location of each of the four core sites — Ankida waterfall track (Waterfall Creek), Springers track (Purling Brook), the Lodge track (Boy-ull Creek) and Quoll’s track (Cave Creek).

Four teams of at least three members including at least one expert, simultaneously survey each of the four sites, switching teams between the morning and afternoon shifts. Three of the four sites have autonomous acoustic monitoring devices (Song Meter SM2, Wildlife Acoustics Inc.) operating for seven hours each day (four hours post-dawn; three hours pre-dusk) (Projects SS1) which provide baselines for comparison.

The formal seasonal surveys with Birds Queensland commenced in January 2011 and will continue for the long term.

Results will be published as soon as sufficient data are accumulated for reliable interpretation.


Watson, D.A. (2003). The ‘standardized search’: an improved way to conduct bird surveys. Austral Ecology 28(5), 515-525.

Watson, D.M. (2004). Comparative evaluation of new approaches to survey birds. Wildlife Research 31, 1-11.