Phone app to help protect endangered birds

School kids have been handed a special role in helping protect Kangaroo Island's bird populations.
School kids have been handed a special role in helping protect Kangaroo Island's bird populations.

School children, landowners and community groups across South Australia's Kangaroo Island are being recruited to help the survival of bird species critically impacted by the devastating bushfires in early 2020.

As a result of the fires, which ripped through more than 200,000 hectares and much of the western half of the island, a number of species, including birds unique to the region, were put at risk of extinction.

Those such as the Southern Emu-Wren, Kangaroo Island Whipbird and Western Bassian Thrush lost up to 80 per cent of their habitat.

"These birds were flagged as a high priority due to significant habitat loss, their sedentary nature and significantly lower ability to disperse during the fires, all of which have fragmented their populations," Birdlife Australia project co-ordinator Janelle Thomas said.

"Given the limited bird survey data for Kangaroo Island, ongoing surveys will be important to help assess the post-fire abundance and distribution of birds in the long term, particularly for those endemic and priority species.

"This will help improve our understanding of their response to bushfires and their capacity to recover and inform conservation efforts to help secure their populations."

Thanks to $50,000 in Landcare funding, BirdLife Australia aims to educate and engage local schools, along with private landholders and community volunteers in monitoring island birds, using a mobile phone Birdata app.

The app allows Birdlife Australia to collect data on bird numbers and locations and can help users learn about birds unique to Kangaroo Island.

According to the most recent data, 226 species had been identified on the island with the red wattlebird, the New Holland honeyeater and the fairy wren among the most prolific.

Mr Thomas said involving the community in mapping the survival of endangered species was vital.

"The next generation will be the future custodians of Kangaroo Island, so we want them to be armed with the best knowledge and experience to protect the future of the special birds that also call it home," she said.

Australian Associated Press