Populations of Australia’s threatened birds have decreased by half since 1985, according to Australia’s new Threatened Bird Index.
The most alarming decline has been among the migratory shorebirds, which suffered a 70 per cent drop in their populations in the last 30 years, and some other groups of birds have also seen sharp declines.
Lake Wollumboola Protection Association president and avid bird watcher Frances Bray, said she had noticed less and less migratory birds at Culburra Beach over the years.
“Right through the winter we had really big number of migratory birds but with the recent wind storms they’ve pretty well all gone,” she said.
“I did a bird count on Saturday at the lake, and the diversity in the birds had significantly reduced - even on last month’s numbers.”
Ms Bray said nesting shorebirds had also shown a dramatic decline in numbers the past few years.
“We have had no little terns, and we’ve had one pair of pied oyster catchers that successfully fledged one chick,” she said.
While that baby bird flew this week, this was the first time the pair of pied oyster catchers had fledged a chick in more than four seasons.
“This is really important and we are very excited,” Ms Bray said.
The results of the Threatened Bird Index, a joint initiative of BirdLife Australia and the Threatened Species Recovery Hub, showed that on average, there has been a significant decrease in Australian threatened birds over the last three decades.
“They need our help,” said James O’Connor, Head of Research at BirdLife Australia.
“With sufficient resources and commitment, conservation programs work and can halt declines and even lead to improvements for some species.”
Measures to protect the birds in the Shoalhaven have already been put in place by community members at Lake Wollumboola, according to Ms Bray.
“We’ve put up signs with a bird image and a dog image so people know where dogs are allowed,” she said.
“I think that’s been relatively successful and people have cooperated and realised important things happen around the lake.”
Areas of the lake shores are also fenced off when shorebirds are nesting, in order to protect the eggs.
The NSW Government also works to monitor bird numbers and protect the threatened species.
The South Coast Shorebird Recovery Program, set up in 1999 by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, aims to reduce the rate of decline of threatened shorebirds and recover populations by making sure the birds breed in a safe environment.
This long-running program monitors and protects shorebird nesting habitat across all coastal environments from Wollongong to the NSW and Victoria border.