NSW Scientific Committee - final determination
The Scientific Committee found that:
1. The south-eastern form of the Hooded Robin Melanodryas cucullata cucullata, is distributed throughout south-eastern Australia, from Central Queensland, to Spencer Gulf, South Australia. This form of the Hooded Robin occurs throughout NSW except for the north-west of the state where it inter-grades with the smaller northern form of the Hooded Robin M. cucullata picata (Schodde & Mason 1999).
2. They occupy a wide range of Eucalypt woodlands, Acacia shrublands and open forests (Blakers et al. 1984). In temperate woodlands, the species favours open areas adjoining large woodland blocks, with areas of dead timber and sparse shrub cover (Fitri and Ford 1997). In semi-arid western NSW, the species favours open woodlands of Belah, Rosewood, Mulga and Cypress.
3. Hooded Robins live in small family groups of pairs or trios, and build cup-shaped nests. Home ranges are relatively large, and averaged 18ha for birds from the New England Tableland (Fitri and Ford 1997). The species feeds on the ground by pouncing on insects, and forages in areas with a mix of bare ground, ground cover and litter (Blakers et al. 1984, H. Recher, pers. comm).
4. The Hooded Robin has declined significantly in range and population. Declines have been reported from the following areas: the Cumberland Plain, Western Sydney (Hoskin 1991) with Keast (1995) reporting the species to be extinct from the area and Egan et al. (1997) recording a local extinction near Scheyville; the New England Tableland (Barrett et al. 1994; Fitri and Ford 1997); the central west around Orange area (Heron 1973); the area bounded by Parkes, Tottenham and Condobolin (N. Schrader, unpubl.); and from around Inverell (Baldwin 1975). Fisher (1997) predicted Hooded Robins would decline from the Bathurst area if current land management practices continued. Reid (1999) identified the species as a 'decliner' in a review of bird status in the NSW sheep-wheatbelt.
5. The Hooded Robin is threatened by clearance and fragmentation of habitat including removal of dead timber. The species appears unable to survive in remnants smaller than 100-200ha (Egan et al. 1997; N. Schrader, unpubl.). Isolation of populations in small remnants increases vulnerability to local extinction as a result of stochastic events and can decrease their genetic viability in the long term. Low population densities and relatively large home ranges also exacerbate their vulnerability within a highly fragmented and predominantly cleared landscape.
6. Habitat degradation by stock grazing and weed invasion may reduce food resources for the species. Further, the breeding success of Hooded Robins may be reduced by increased populations of nest predators such as Pied Currawongs and Australian Ravens (Major et al. 1996).
7. In view of the above points, the Scientific Committee is of the opinion that the Hooded Robin (south-eastern form) Melanodryas cucullata cucullata, is likely to become endangered unless the circumstances and factors threatening its survival or evolutionary development cease to operate, and is therefore eligible for listing as a vulnerable species.
Proposed Gazettal date: 26/10/01
Exhibition period: 26/10/01 - 30/11/01
Baldwin, M. (1975). Birds of the Inverell District, NSW. Emu 75, 113-120.
Barrett, G.W., Ford, H.A. and Recher, H.F. (1994). Conservation of woodland birds in a fragmented rural landscape. Pacific Conservation Biology 1, 245-256.
Blakers, M., Davies, S.J.J.F. and Reilly, P.N. (1984). 'The Atlas of Australian Birds'. (Melbourne University Press: Melbourne.)
Egan, K., Farrell, J. and Pepper-Edward, D. (1997). Historical and seasonal changes in the community of forest birds at Longneck Lagoon Nature Reserve, Scheyville, New South Wales. Corella 21, 1-16.
Fisher, A.M. (1997). The distribution and abundance of avifauna in the Bathurst landscape: implications for conservation and land management. Ph.D. Thesis, Charles Sturt University, Bathurst.
Fitri, L. and Ford, H. (1997). Status, habitat and social organisation of the Hooded Robin, Melanodryas cucullata in the New England Region of New South Wales. Australian Birdwatcher 17, 142-155.
Heron, S.J. (1973). Birds of the Orange district, NSW. Emu 73, 1-8
Hoskin, E. (1991). 'Birds of Sydney 1770-1989'. (Surrey Beatty and Sons: Sydney.)
Keast, A. (1995). Habitat loss and species loss: the birds of Sydney 50 years ago and now. Australian Zoologist 30, 3-25.
Major, R., Gowing, G. and Kendal, C. (1996). Nest predaton in Australian urban environments and the role of the Pied Currawong, Strepera graculina. Australian Journal of Ecology 21, 399-409.
Reid, J. (1999). 'Threatened and Declining Birds in the New South Wales Sheep-wheatbelt: Diagnosis, Characteristics and Management'. Report to NSW NPWS, Sydney.
Schodde, R. and Mason, I.J. (1999). 'The Directory of Australian Birds: Passerines'. CSIRO: Melbourne.