This page presents current research and monitoring projects on Brolgas and Australian Sarus Cranes, as well as wetland and rangeland studies directly related to crane habitat issues.
Research students, catchment groups, birdwatching groups monitoring cranes in wetlands, and others, are welcome to post project summaries here for Ozcranes readers – please contact us. Projects are grouped geographically from north to south, with projects needing volunteers listed first in each group.
← Logo for projects needing volunteers
Research and monitoring projects in far north Queensland
Far north Queensland covers the area north from about Ingham (18.6500° S, 146.1667° E on the coast), west to the Queensland-northern Territory border. This includes all the main habitat areas for breeding and non-breeding Sarus Cranes in Australia and some significant Brolga habitat.
1 | Atherton Tablelands Crane Count 2009 --
- Aim: To monitor Sarus Cranes in the Atherton Tablelands IBA (Important Bird Area)
- Location & timing: Atherton Tablelands, North Queensland. Annual from 2009, first Saturday in September. Contact BirdLife NQ
Comments Volunteers welcome. Long-term monitoring of the wintering Sarus Crane population in the Atherton Tablelands IBA.
2 | Sarus Crane & Brolga interactions and interbreeding
- Aim: PhD study into the ecological, behavioural and genetic interactions between Brolgas and Sarus cranes; and the conservation management implications
- Location & timing: North Queensland, 2013-
- Tim Nevard
- Ozcranes page for Tim's project
- Contact: Tim Nevard
Comments Contributions from birdwatchers and others are very welcome, all help will be fully acknowledged.
3 | Sarus history project
- Aim: To explore written and oral history sources including farm diaries, for information on Brolgas and Sarus Cranes on the Atherton Tablelands
- Location & timing: North Queensland, ongoing
- Elinor Scambler and north Queensland residents
- Contact: Elinor Scambler
Comments Birdwatchers, writers and people who remember cranes on the Tablelands including during WW2 are very welcome to contribute, all help will be fully acknowledged.
4 | Gulf of Carpentaria aerial counts
- Aim: (1) To count post and pre-breeding Sarus Crane flocks and determine population size and habitat use in the Gulf breeding areas (2) To count Brolgas present in the same and surrounding areas
- Location & timing: Gulf of Carpentaria, late April & late September
- Drs John Grant & Rob Heinsohn, with some funding from BirdLife Australia
Enquiries: Contact John Grant.
5 & 6 | Annual recruitment and winter feeding habitat, Sarus Cranes on the Atherton Tableland
- Aims: To determine Australian Sarus Crane breeding success in terms of the mean annual recruitment rate; To determine feeding habitat of wintering Australian Sarus Cranes on the Atherton Tableland
- Location & timing: Atherton Tableland far north Queensland, ongoing
- Dr. John Grant
Comments The mean annual recruitment rate (the number of juveniles with adults each year) is approximately 6%, considered low for cranes. Recruitment results 1997-2002 were published in 2005. With feeding habitat, results so far indicate Sarus Cranes feed most frequently on maize stubble, less so on well-grazed pasture, and occasionally on cane trash. Watch Ozcranes for more news.
7 | Maturation stages of immature Sarus Cranes
- Aim: To determine characters for identifying different stages of immature Australian Sarus Cranes (ageing immatures in the field)
- Location & timing: Far north Queensland, ongoing
- Dr. John Grant
Comments More in Ozcranes Knowledge Gaps 2.
Completed projects, far north Queensland
These projects are now in the analysis and write-up stage, enquiries: Elinor Scambler
1 | Crane Counts 1997-2008
2 | Sarus Crane Access database & GIS
- Aims: (1) To locate all active roost sites, count roosting flocks and determine Sarus Crane population size for the Atherton Tableland and hinterland (2) To count Brolgas present in the same and surrounding areas (3) Using GIS, (i) track roost flight movements (ii) examine distribution of both species in the late Dry season, based on broad habitat and land use variables. To compile and map all records including unpublished notes, on Sarus Crane locations in north Queensland.
- Location & timing: Across North Queensland. Annual, 1997-2008. Database, ongoing.
- Contact: Elinor Scambler
Comments The first consistent long-term population study of Australian Sarus Cranes, Ozcranes: NQ Crane Counts» and associated database.
Covers the area from about Ingham (18.65° S 146.16° E, south to Rockhampton 23.37° S 150.51° E on the coast: and west to the border). This area includes very significant coastal and inland breeding and wintering areas for the northern Brolga population
1 | Townsville Town Common Conservation Park wetland restoration – monitoring
- The completed project developed grazing and fire techniques to suppress invasive para grass on this important wetland, the techniques are now being applied elsewhere
- BirdLife Townsville is now monitoring Brolgas and other species on the Conservation Park, including monthly surveys
- Location & timing: Townsville Town Common Conservation Park, ongoing
- Contact: BirdLife Townsville
Murray River: Riverina
This area covers the Murray-Darling basin in northern Victoria and southern New South Wales, west of about Albury (36.08° S 146.91° E). A map of the whole basin can be downloaded from the managing water authority.
1 | Bitterns Boom in Rice: Management of farm breeding wetlands for endangered bitterns (as well as Brolgas)
- Aim: Practical guidelines for managing rice fields and other farm habitat for bitterns and other wetland-dependent species
- Location & timing: SE Australia, ongoing
- Rice Growers' Association of Australia, BirdLife Australia, and other key organisations, with Murray Wildlife
- Contact: Matthew Herring
- Project page at BirdLife Australia
Comments Matthew's earlier work with landholders in the same areas showed the Brolga is an effective communication tool for promoting wetland conservation and that efforts to conserve Brolga wetlands protect many other species, the new bittern project is expected to achieve similar benefits.
Southwest Victoria region stretches from about Geelong (38.15° S 144.35° E) in the east, west to the Victoria-South Australia border, and N to about 37.05° S.
1 | South West Victoria Brolga Project: Brolgas & windfarms
- Aim: Establish threat levels to the Brolga population in SW Victoria posed by windfarm developments in breeding and flocking areas, and recommend mitigating actions
- The project has funding from federal and state governments and the wind industry, and is supported by BirdLife Australia
- Led by: Ballarat/Melbourne University PhD student Inka Veltheim
- Contact: Inka Veltheim by email
- More information: Visit the Project website or Inka's page in Ozcranes Research
Comments Proposed major wind farm develoments raise questions for the Brolga's survival in SW Victoria, where numbers of immatures in flocks are already low. Existing threats include wetland degradation and foxes.
2 & 3 | Southwest Brolga Counts and Brolga Recovery Group
- Aim, Counts: (1) To locate nest sites and record nesting details, including success for a minimum 20 nests per season (2) To count non-breeding flocks and determine population size
- Location & timing: Across SW Victoria, (flocking summer-autumn, breeding winter-spring)
- Participants: Victorian Department of Sustainability & Environment with community groups
- Contact: Richard Hill, (03) 5554 2302
Comments Volunteers welcome. Results are posted at BIRD under Surveys.
Brolga Recovery Group
- Aim, BRG: Multiple projects to survey Brolgas and improve habitat
- Location & timing: Across SW Victoria, ongoing
- BRG website
- Regular BRG news is posted in Ozcranes News and Diary»
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