King Island's is an important bird area

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 nine King Island sub-species. Of these, two are listed as

Critically Endangered (the King Island Brown Thornbill and the King

Island Scrubtit) and two as Vulnerable (the King Island Green Rosella

and the King Island Black Currawong).  The others 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, Fairy and Little Terns.  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.

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 monitoring 

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 been 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 and conservation actions undertaken strategically.

Project Overview
  • Over 60 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, there aren't sufficient skilled birders and bird enthusiasts human to undertake all the monitoring required, 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.


Project Aims

  • 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

Using the data
  • 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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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