Research update Sep 2019


Our biggest investment is with Charles Darwin University in a Finch Movement project using tiny transmitters placed on the birds and receiving towers that detect the tagged birds. We now have 21 receiving towers around the Wyndham region.

Researchers from the Movement and Landscape Ecology Lab are tracking the movements of finches to better understand how often and how far they move, where they spend time, and how they respond to fire and seed distribution across the landscape.

To give an idea of how often some of these birds move between sites, the following plot shows how often an adult female Gouldian Finch (tag #123) moved between the Wyndham, King River Road, and Guda Guda sites between 25 June and 5 July 2019. She returned daily to King River Road – maybe she was nesting there? That’s quite a daily flight for a small bird.

They are also estimating home ranges to look at habitat preferences. The map below shows how an adult male Gouldian Finch seems to have a core use area (red) that includes two areas of town. This includes near the Caravan Park, where it comes for a drink daily at around 7:00am or later between 3:00-4:00pm. Its home range (white) covers a much larger area.

The study involves transmitter tags on Gouldians, Longtails and Masks. The results to date show that Gouldians are moving around much more than the other two species. They are almost certainly doing so to find food and it appears Gouldians are under more nutritional stress than the other locally abundant finches.