WINGS ON KING- Why, What and How


Magic of King Island birds

King Island acts as a biological stepping-stone between Tasmania and mainland Australia.  For birds migrating North and South, the Island is a vital stopover to rest and refuel.

How can you help?

This project is being undertaken entirely by local volunteers and we need your help. Register for Wings on King, visit the island and help us discover and tell the stories of King Islands Birds



King Island's Birds:  

Located in the middle of the Western entrance to Bass Strait, half-way between the mainland and Tasmania, King Island acts as a biological stepping-stone between the two, is home to many resident species including most of the Tasmanian endemics and boasts six King Island sub-species. Of these six, two are listed as Critically Endangered and two as Vulnerable.  The other two we think are stable but we don't really know.


A vital stopover for many birds migrating across Bass Strait, King Island is also the summer residence of international travellers such as the Ruddy Turnstone and breeding migrants such as Short-tailed Shearwaters.  The coast of King Island is an internationally nominated Key Biodiversity Area (KBA).


Despite King Island being such an important location for birds, we know very little about the conservation status of the land birds of King Island or its value to birds migrating across Bass Strait. How important is it to them?

King Island's future:

The fact that four King Island subspecies are listed as threatened, indicates that there is already a loss of biodiversity and habitat on King Island. With increasing pressure on the island's biological systems from human activities including climate change, we need to have a method of monitoring the sustainability or environmental health of the whole island.


Using changes in bird populations as indicators of overall environmental change, is a well recognised, scientifically valid method of doing this. Given the number of important and threatened birds that live or utilise King Island, it is also the obvious method to choose.



Long-term, systematic monitoring of land-birds has never been undertaken on King Island. 21 sites were set up in 2001 and monitored twice, but until now have not bee monitored again. Although there is random incidental monitoring of birds on the Island which provides important information, its use for conservation management is limited.  Wings on King will gather data from established sites situated across the island, on a regular and long-term basis so that changes can be identified over time.

Project Overview
  • 50 established monitoring sites are situated in differing land usage zones, landscape elements, vegetation communities and habitat qualities on both private and public land

  • Surveys are undertaken as often as possible, with organised events in spring and autumn.  

  • As King Island has a small human population of about 1600, the human resources aren't available to undertake all the monitoring ourselves, so we are inviting bird enthusiasts to visit the island and help us gather the data

  • Participants require registration to ensure they are covered by insurance and to allow the project team to ensure all the sites are monitored at some stage.


We aim to:

  • monitor the presence, absence and populations of the land birds of King Island;

  • establish current population levels of the King Island subspecies and monitor these in the future;

  • establish how the Bass Strait migrating birds use the Island when they are here 

  • Watch for evidence of southward drifts in distribution ranges of mainland land birds

How will the data be used?
  • changes in populations and status of both common and endangered birds, will alert us to changes in the natural environment and allow targeted conservation initiatives

  • arrival and establishment of new or previously irregular bird visitors may indicate southward drifts in distribution ranges of mainland land birds in response to a changing climate.

More Information: 

  • If you wish to view the full project plan or discuss the project in more detail, please contact us.​

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