21.
Noisy Scrub-bird
(Atrichornis clamosus)
EN
Overview
This small, essentially flightless passerine is found in Western Australia. It will forage low to the ground where it feeds on a range of invertebrates. The male of the species is extremely territorial and is often heard performing its loud song. The Noisy Scrub-bird has experienced huge declines across its range due to changes in fire regime and the increase of wildfires. The use of fires has been limited in the areas where populations still persist. Current estimates place the population between 1,000 and 1,500 mature individuals. This scrub-bird has been the focus of 50 years of research and management. Several translocations, some of which included the removal of introduced predators, have been attempted with some successes. Surveys are still being carried out to locate suitable habitat for translocations.
Urgent Conservation Actions
Minimising the impact of fires on the species, controlling introduced predators in suitable habitat and continue long-term monitoring of the population.
Distribution
Limited to a small range in southwest Australia.
Fact
As suggested by its name the Noisy Scrub-bird is known for its call. Their territorial call starts as a pleasant song that accelerates into an ear-splitting finish.
Evolutionary Distinctiveness
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Atrichornithidae
The scrub-birds (the Noisy Scrub-bird Atrichornis clamosus and the Rufous Scrub-bird) form a small endemic family of passerine birds who are most closely related to the lyre-birds. DNA studies have suggested that they differentiated from lyre-birds 30-35 million years ago. The Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife consider the Rufous scrub-bird a living fossil that evolved 97–65 million years ago. They are considered an ancient lineage and were likely part of the corvid radiation of the Australia-New Guinea region.
The tree below shows the evolutionary relationships between this species and all other birds. The colours of the tree indicate EDGE scores with the red shades indicating the higher priority species; the bright red leaves correspond to the top 100 EDGE bird species. Further information on every species can be found by zooming in to its leaf on the tree.
Description
Size: 
22–26 cm
Weight: 31–55g  (females 31-36; males 48-55)
Features short, rounded wings and a long tail with a rounded tip. The adults are dark brown on the back with more rust-coloured wings. Underneath the Noisy Scrub-bird is chestnut with a cream-coloured lower breast. This species is sexually dimorphic in size and males can be distinguished by a black triangle on a white throat whilst females have a plain white throat.
Ecology
The Noisy Scrub-bird usually feeds in the leaf litter on or near the ground. Their diet is made up of a range of invertebrates but primarily consists of ants, beetles and spiders. Males are very territorial and will defend their territory with a loud, directional song. Females will build their nests in between territories or possibly on the outskirts of a male’s territory. Egg-laying can occur as early as May but peaks in late June. A single egg is incubated for 36–38 days, which is longer than most passerine birds of a similar size. Chicks will then fledge three or four weeks after hatching.
Habitat
The Noisy Scrub-bird prefers dense habitat with suitable material for nesting such as dense clumps of sedges or shrubs. Habitat is usually long unburnt, with a well-developed leaf litter layer where species can feed on invertebrates.
Distribution
Found on the south coast of Western Australia between Albany and Cheynes Beach.
Population Estimate

1,000 adults

Population Trend
Declining
Status
Endangered
Threats
The species has disappeared from its historical range due to a change in fire management. The methods used by European settlers to improve land for cattle grazing and horticulture had a large impact. More recently bushfires have destroyed habitat and displaced populations. It is possible that habitat, and therefore populations, may be able to recover but this would likely take in excess of 10 years. The majority of birds now exist within protected areas; the concern is that corridors may disappear through habitat clearance on private land. This species is also subject to predation by feral cats and may be at risk from a parching climate.
Conservation Underway
The Noisy Scrub-bird is listed on CITES appendix I. The species has been the subject of 50 years of research and management. As part of this work there have been numerous translocations to combat the impacts of fires. In areas where translocations have taken place fox control and cat trapping has been implemented. Radio tracking of relocated individuals has provided information on short term survival of translocated individuals. Surveys are still being carried out to find suitable locations for translocations and population monitoring continues.
Conservation Proposed
The aim is to establish more populations, where the habitat is suitable, within its former range. It is imperative that fire protection is implemented across its current range. Increased surveys of populations over a long time period would allow for better management in the future.
Links
References
BirdLife International (2013) Species factsheet: Atrichornis clamosus. Downloaded from www.birdlife.org on 19/07/2013.

Comer, S., Danks, A., Burbidge, A. H., and Tiller, C. (2010). The history and success of Noisy Scrub-bird re-introductions in Western Australia: 1983-2005. In 'Global Re-Introduction Perspectives: Additional case-studies from around the globe'. (Ed. P. S. Soorae) pp. 187-192. (IUCN/SSC Re-Introduction Specialist Group: Abu Dhabi, UAE.)

Danks, A., Burbidge, A. A., Burbidge, A. H. and Smith, G. T. (1996). Noisy Scrub-bird Recovery Plan. WA Dept Conservation & Land Management, Perth.

Department of Environment and Conservation (2012) South Coast Threatened Birds Recovery Plan 2012-2022. Wildlife Management Program No. 44. Department of Parks and Wildlife, Perth, Western Australia.

Garnett, S.T., Szabo, J.K. and Dutson, G. (2011) The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2010. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood.

Smith, G. T. (1985) Population and habitat selection of the Noisy Scrub-bird, Atrichornis clamosus, 1962-83. Australian Wildlife Research 12: 479-485.
Acknowledgements
Text compiled by Jack Stewart. Factchecked by Sarah Comer.

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