Biodiversity

Species Profile and Threats Database


For information to assist proponents in referral, environmental assessments and compliance issues, refer to the Policy Statements and Guidelines (where available), the Conservation Advice (where available) or the Listing Advice (where available).
 
In addition, proponents and land managers should refer to the Recovery Plan (where available) or the Conservation Advice (where available) for recovery, mitigation and conservation information.

EPBC Act Listing Status Listed as Endangered
Listing and Conservation Advices Commonwealth Listing Advice on Southern Black-throated Finch (Poephila cincta cincta) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2005s) [Listing Advice].
 
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan required, included on the Commenced List (1/11/2009).
 
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans National recovery plan for the black-throated finch southern subspecies Poephila cincta cincta. Report to the Department of the Environment and Water Resources, Canberra (Black-throated Finch Recovery Team (BTF Recovery Team), 2007) [Recovery Plan].
 
Policy Statements and Guidelines Significant impact guidelines for the endangered black-throated finch (southern) (Poephila cincta cincta) - EPBC Act policy statement 3.13 (Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), 2009af) [Admin Guideline].
 
Background paper - Significant impact guidelines for the endangered black-throated finch (southern) (Poephila cincta cincta) - EPBC Act policy statement 3.13 (Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), 2009ag) [Admin Guideline].
 
Survey Guidelines for Australia's Threatened Birds. EPBC Act survey guidelines 6.2 (Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), 2010l) [Admin Guideline].
 
Information Sheets Distribution map - Whole of range important areas (Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), 2009ah) [Information Sheet].
 
Distribution map - Greater Townsville important areas (Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), 2009ai) [Information Sheet].
 
Federal Register of
    Legislative Instruments
Declaration under s178, s181, and s183 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 - List of threatened species, List of threatened ecological communities and List of threatening processes (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000) [Legislative Instrument].
 
Inclusion of species in the list of threatened species under section 178 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (31/01/2005) (Grey Grasswren (Bulloo), Black-throated Finch (southern)) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2005l) [Legislative Instrument].
 
State Government
    Documents and Websites
NSW:Black-throated Finch (southern subspecies) - profile (NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change (NSW DECC), 2005aj) [Internet].
NSW:Black-throated Finch (southern subspecies) Threatened Species Information (NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NSW NPWS), 1999bs) [Information Sheet].
NSW:Draft Recovery Plan for the Black-throated Finch southern subspecies (Poephila cincta cincta) (NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NSW NPWS), 2003n) [State Recovery Plan].
QLD:Black-throated Finch (white-rumped subspecies) Profile (Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management (QLD DERM), 2009) [Internet].
State Listing Status
NSW: Listed as Endangered (Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (New South Wales): December 2013)
QLD: Listed as Endangered (Nature Conservation Act 1992 (Queensland): July 2012)
Non-statutory Listing Status
NGO: Listed as Vulnerable (The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2010)
Scientific name Poephila cincta cincta [64447]
Family Passeridae:Passeriformes:Aves:Chordata:Animalia
Species author (Gould, 1837)
Infraspecies author  
Reference  
Distribution map Species Distribution Map

This is an indicative distribution map of the present distribution of the species based on best available knowledge. See map caveat for more information.

Illustrations Google Images

International: Listed under Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Fauna and Flora (CITES).

At the species level, listed as Near Threatened under the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

Scientific name: Poephila cincta cincta.

Common Name: Black-throated Finch (southern).

Other Names: At the species level, the Black-throated Finch, Poephila cincta, is also known as the Banded or Black-rumped Finch or Grass-finch; Black-tailed, Diggles' or Parson Finch; Chocolate Parson; and Blackthroat (Higgins et al. 2006a).

The Black-throated Finch (southern) is a conventionally accepted subspecies of P. cincta (Ford 1986; Keast 1958; Schodde & Mason 1999).

At the species level, the Black-throated Finch is a sleek but thickset grass-finch, which measures approximately 12 cm in length, and weighs approximately 15 g. It has a grey head and neck, with a short black loral stripe, and a conspicuous, large black 'bib' over the chin, throat and upper breast. The bill is short, thick, conical and coloured black. The eye is a dark reddish-brown. The breast, back, and most of the belly, are brown. The wings are a darker shade of brown, and when folded have a narrow white stripe along the leading edge. The rump and the tail, which is short and rather rounded or square-tipped, are both black. The lower underbody is white, but with a black patch on the rear flanks. The legs and feet are a bright pinkish-red. Juveniles appear very similar to adults, but with duller colouring (Higgins et al. 2006a).

The subspecies can be distinguished primarily by the colouring of the upper-tail coverts; these are white in the southern subspecies, black in the northern subspecies, and of intermediate colour in hybrid birds (Ford 1986; Higgins et al. 2006a; Keast 1958; Zann 1976). The brown plumage of the body is also said to be richer in the southern subspecies than in the northern subspecies (BTF Recovery Team 2004; Schodde & Mason 1999).

The Black-throated Finch (southern) is gregarious, occurring mostly in twos or small flocks of up to 20 birds, or sometimes in larger flocks of up to 160 birds (Britton & Britton 2000; Hall 1974; Lavery & Hopkins 1963; Longmore 1978; Lord 1956; Mitchell 1996; NRA 2005). It has been seen to associate with Double-barred Finches (Taeniopygia bichenovii) (Wheeler 1959b) and Plum-headed Finches (Neochmia modesta) (Morris & Burton 1994). The Black-throated Finch (southern) breeds in colonies, with individual nests separated from one another by distances of up to 50 m (NRA 2005).

Distribution
The Black-throated Finch (southern) occurs at two general locations: in the Townsville region, where it is considered to be locally common at a few sites around Townsville and Charters Towers (BTF Recovery Team 2004; Garnett & Crowley 2000); and at scattered sites in central-eastern Queensland (between Aramac and Great Basalt Wall National Park) (BAAM 2011; BTF Recovery Team 2004). Since 1998, birds likely to be of the southern subspecies have been recorded at the following sites (Barrett et al. 2003; BTF Recovery Team 2004):

  • Townsville and its surrounds (Giru, Serpentine Lagoon, Toonpan, and near Ross River Dam)
  • Ingham, and sites nearby (near Mutarnee [at Ollera Creek], and near Mount Fox)
  • scattered sites in central-eastern Queensland (Great Basalt Wall, Yarrowmere Station, Moonoomoo Station, Doongmabulla Station, Fortuna Station and Aramac)

The Black-throated Finch (southern) historically occurred from far south-eastern Queensland, near the Queensland-NSW border, through eastern Queensland north to the divide between the Burdekin and Lynd Rivers (Blakers et al. 1984; Schodde & Mason 1999). The subspecies is now extinct at most sites south of Burdekin River, and is confined to a very few remaining 'pockets' of suitable habitat (Roberts 1977; Storr 1984c, 1984d).

It has been absent from Brisbane and its surrounds since the 1930s (Lord 1956; Woodall 1987) or 1940s (BTF Recovery Team 2004), and appears to have become extinct around most of Rockhampton during the early to mid 1970s, despite having been numerous there during the 1950s (Blakers et al. 1984; BTF Recovery Team 2004; Longmore 1978). It was last recorded in the Rockhampton region during 1988–89 (BTF Recovery Team 2004). There have been very few records of the subspecies south of 23° S since the late 1970s, and there have been almost no records from this region since 1995 (Barrett et al. 2003; Blakers et al. 1984; BTF Recovery Team 2004). Black-throated Finches (southern) were recorded from the Severn River, near Ballandean in southern Queensland, in the early 1980s and mid 1990s (BTF Recovery Team 2004) and there is a single record from Stanthorp, near Brisbane in 2002 (BTF recovery Team 2008, pers.comm.).

 

In NSW the Black-throated Finch (southern) was formerly widespread and 'tolerably abundant' in the Northern Tablelands and North-West Slopes Regions (Cooper & McAllan 1995; Gould 1972; Ley & Cook 2001; Morris et al. 1981), but there have been few published records since the 1960s (Higgins et al. 2006a; Ley & Cook 2001), and only three since 1992 (Morris 1994; Morris & Burton 1994, 1996a) at:

  • Swan Brook, in November 1992
  • Pindari Dam, near Ashford, in May 1994 (incorrectly published as April 1994 in Morris and Burton 1996a) (Ley & Cook 2001)
  • Bukkalla, in November 1994 (Morris & Burton 1996a).

The subspecies has not been recorded in NSW since the mid 1990s, despite general (BTF Recovery Team 2004), and specific searches of the Inverell-Ashford, Tenterfield and Boggabilla districts between October and December 2000 (Ley & Cook 2001). The lack of recent records from NSW and southern Queensland suggests that the Black-throated Finch (southern) may now be extinct in NSW.

Extent of occurence
The extent of occurrence is estimated to be 800 000 km² based on published maps. This estimate is considered to be of low reliability (Garnett & Crowley 2000).

 

An analysis of historical and more recent records indicates that this decline is continuing (Franklin 1999a; Garnett & Crowley 2000). By comparing records from Blakers and colleagues (1984) and Barrett and colleagues (2003), it has been estimated that, at the species level, the extent of occurrence of the Black-throated Finch has declined by approximately 80% since the early 1980s. The majority of this decline has occurred in the range of the southern subspecies (BTF Recovery Team 2004).

No specific information is available on future changes in the extent of occurrence, but data suggests that the southern subspecies might be getting displaced from the northern limits of its range by the northern subspecies P. c. atropygialis(Bravery 1970; Zann 1976).

Area of occupancy
The area of occupancy is estimated to be 5000 km², based on the number of 1 km² grid squares that the subspecies is thought to occur in at the time when the population is most constrained. This estimate is considered to be of low reliability (Garnett & Crowley 2000).

 

The area of occupancy of the Black-throated Finch (southern) has declined with the decrease in the extent of occurrence (BTF Recovery Team 2004). An analysis of historical and more recent records suggest that this decline is continuing (Franklin 1999a; Garnett & Crowley 2000).

Fragmentation
Based on sightings, the distribution of the Black-throated Finch (southern) appears to be severely fragmented. The predominance of records from riparian areas in its southern range, suggest these might be refugial habitat within a highly fragmented, modified environment (BTF Recovery Team 2007).

In late 2000, a survey was conducted in northern NSW. This involved a publicity campaign, including the distribution of 17 000 questionnaires, and on-ground searches in the Inverell-Ashford, Tenterfield and Boggabilla districts. The publicity campaign received five responses from observers claiming to have seen the birds, but none could be confirmed. The on-ground searches also failed to locate any Black-throated Finches (southern) (Ley & Cook 2001).

In 2002 and 2003, surveys of waterholes were conducted at sites near Townsville. No specific information is available on the findings of this survey, but the results were incorporated into a sightings database that is managed by the Black-throated Finch Recovery Team (BTF Recovery Team 2004).

Field surveys were also conducted at the upper Ross River (March 2004 to May 2005) and Antill Creek (April 2003 to May 2005) to assess the impact of Enertrade's North Queensland Gas Pipeline project on local populations of the Black-throated Finch (southern) (NRA 2005).

Field surveys were also conducted near Townsville (May 2007) to assess the likely impact of the proposed Chisholm Trail Rural Residential Development on the Black-throated Finch's (southern) ability to utilise the habitat. The surveys involved dedicated searches and observations at water holes and at strategic locations at dusk. Data was also collected opportunistically whilst traversing the site (NRA 2007).

Surveys were conducted at a proposed quarry site near Townsville and the Black-throated Finch was located around critical habitat areas of Central Creek (GHD 2010).

Population abundance
No reliable estimates of the size of the Black-throated Finch (southern) population are available. The population has been estimated at 20 000 breeding birds (based on area of occupancy and available data on densities of populations), but this estimate is considered to be of low reliability (Garnett & Crowley 2000). The subspecies is considered to be locally common at some sites around Townsville and Charters Towers (BTF Recovery Team 2004; Garnett & Crowley 2000).

No reliable information is available on the existence, number, or size of subpopulations of the Black-throated Finch (southern). The subspecies is thought to occur as a single, contiguous population, but this estimate is considered to be of low reliability, due to uncertainty about the number of subpopulations and/or the extent of genetic separation (Garnett & Crowley 2000).

The population of the Black-throated Finch (southern) is presumed to have decreased in connection with the massive declines in the extent of occurrence and the area of occupancy that were recorded during the previous century (BTF Recovery Team 2004). This population decline is thought to be continuing (Garnett & Crowley 2000), for example, flock-size may be declining around Townsville and Charters Towers, with recent sightings typically of flocks of 10 birds or less (Britton & Britton 2000; BTF Recovery Team 2004).

At the species level, circumstantial evidence suggests that the population of the Black-throated Finch may have declined by more than 50% during the past 10 years (BTF Recovery Team 2004).

No specific information is available on the existence, or occurrence, of natural fluctuations in population size. However, it is possible that the occurrence of semi-permanent water bodies during wetter years could allow the Black-throated Finch (southern) to expand its range over a greater area of the landscape (NRA 2005).

Important populations
At sites around Townsville and Charters Towers, the Black-throated Finch (southern) is still considered locally common (BTF Recovery Team 2007). However, given that a reliable estimate of population size is currently not available, and that sightings have been infrequent in recent years (Barrett et al. 2003), recovery efforts should aim to conserve all existing populations of the Black-throated Finch (southern).

Cross breeding
Hybridisation between the southern and northern (P. cincta atropygialis) subspecies of the Black-throated Finch occurs in north-east Queensland, on the Atherton Tableland, across the divide between Burdekin and Lynd Rivers, and west to the Einasleigh Uplands (Ford 1986, 1987; Keast 1958; Schodde & Mason 1999; Zann 1976). At the species level, the Black-throated Finch may interbreed with several other species of finches in captivity, and produces fertile hybrids when cross-bred with the Long-tailed Finch (Poephila acuticauda) (Immelmann 1982). However, no interspecific hybrids have been recorded in wild populations (Ford 1986).

Records of the Black-throated Finch (southern) in northern Queensland have been mainly from leasehold or freehold land. Near Townsville, the subspecies has also been reported on council and Commonwealth Department of Defence land, with a few records on a Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service nature refuge at Serpentine Lagoon (BTF Recovery Team 2004). There are four areas dedicated as Nature Refuges for the Black-throated Finch (southern) in the Townsville region: Upper Sleeper Log Creek, Ollera Creek, Stuart Creek and Oak Valley (Townsville Bulletin 2008).

Records of the Black-throated Finch (southern) from central and southern Queensland during the past 20 years have been from either roadsides or private land (BTF Recovery Team 2004).

Captive populations
The Black-throated Finch (southern) is popular with aviculturists, and breeds readily in captivity. In the early 1990s, it was estimated that approximately 5000 birds were being held in private collections (Garnett 1993; Garnett & Crowley 2000).

At the species level, captive populations of the Black-throated Finch are maintained at Auckland Zoological Park in New Zealand, Zoologico De Santillana Del Mar in Spain, Attica Zoological Park in Greece, Frankfurt Zoo in Germany, Budapest Zoological and Botanical Garden in Hungary, Jardin Zoologique Du Quebec in Canada, and at the National Aquarium (Baltimore) and Fort Wayne Children's Zoological Garden in the United States of America (ISIS 2005a).

The Black-throated Finch (southern) occurs mainly in grassy, open woodlands and forests, typically dominated by Eucalyptus, Corymbia and Melaleuca, and occasionally in tussock grasslands or other habitats (for example freshwater wetlands), often along or near watercourses, or in the vicinity of water (Baldwin 1976; Britton & Britton 2000; BTF Recovery Team 2004; Ley & Cook 2001; NRA 2005; Wieneke 1989). Almost all recent records of the finch from south of the tropics have been in riparian habitat (Baldwin 1976; BTF Recovery Team 2004; Ley & Cook 2001). The subspecies is thought to require a mosaic of different habitats in which it can find seed during the wet season (Mitchell 1996).

Some of the more common species of eucalypts in woodlands and forests frequented by the subspecies include Narrow-leaved Ironbark (E. crebra), River Red Gum (E. camaldulensis), Silver-leaved Ironbark (E. melanophloia), Reid River Box (E. brownii), Yellowjacket (E. similis) and Forest Red Gum (E. tereticornis). The subspecies occasionally occurs in Melaleuca woodlands, or in grasslands comprised of genera such as Astrebla, Dichanthium or Panicum (BTF Recovery Team 2004).

In NSW, all of the most recent records have been in riparian vegetation dominated by River Sheoak (Casuarina cunninghamiana) and Rough-barked Apple (Angophora floribunda) (BTF Recovery Team 2004). Around Inverell, the subspecies was formerly recorded in riparian vegetation consisting of thickets of Yellow Tea-tree (Leptospermum flavescens) and Melaleuca, and dense stands of River Sheoak (Baldwin 1976). In south-eastern Queensland, it was formerly recorded in open forest on ridges, on grassy hillsides, and on 'mountain flats' (Lord 1956). Recent studies conducted further north (near Townsville) have recorded the Black-throated Finch (southern) in both modified and relatively intact vegetation communities (Mitchell 1996; NRA 2005).

The Black-throated Finch (southern) has occasionally been recorded in other habitats, including in freshwater wetlands (BTF Recovery Plan 2004), in cultivation surrounded by woodland (Hall 1974), and in a heavily grazed paddock (Ley & Cook 2001). It is likely that permanent sources of water (and the habitat surrounding these) provide refuge for Black-throated Finches (southern) during the dry season, especially during drought years (NRA 2007).

Associations with other threatened species or ecological communities
The Black-throated Finch (southern) has been recorded in 21 regional ecosystems (all of which occur in Queensland) since 1994. Two of the 21 regional ecosystems are listed as Endangered under the Queensland Vegetation Management Act 1999: Eucalyptus blakelyi woodland on alluvial plains; and E. conica, E. microcarpa, E. melliodora woodland on alluvial plains; both of which occur within the Queensland section of the New England Tableland Bioregion. Two of the 21 regional ecosystems are listed as being Of Concern under the Queensland Vegetation Management Act 1999: E. tereticornis and/or Eucalyptus spp. tall woodland on alluvial plains in the Brigalow Belt South bioregion; and E. camaldulensis fringing open forest within the Queensland section of the New England Tableland Bioregion (BTF Recovery Team 2004).

The regional ecosystems in Queensland are also assigned a biodiversity status by the Queensland Environmental Protection Agency. Three of the 21 regional ecosystems that the Black-throated Finch (southern) occurs in have a biodiversity status of Endangered: E. blakelyi woodland on alluvial plains; E. conica, E. microcarpa, E. melliodora woodland on alluvial plains; and E. camadulensis fringing open forest. Five of the regional ecosystems are assigned the biodiversity status Of Concern: mixed open forest to woodland commonly including Corymbia clarksoniana, E. portuensis, E. crebra, C. citriodora on red kandasols on Tertiary surfaces in the Einasleigh Uplands bioregion; Melaleuca fluviatilis and/or E. camaldulensis woodland along watercourses in the Desert Uplands bioregion; E. camaldulensis or less often E. tereticornis open-forest to woodland fringing drainage lines in the Brigalow Belt North bioregion; freshwater wetlands in the Brigalow Belt North bioregion; and E. tereticornis and/or Eucalyptus spp. tall woodland on alluvial plains in the Brigalow Belt South bioregion (BTF Recovery Team 2004).

The Black-throated Finch (southern) is not known to regularly associate with any other listed threatened species.

In captivity, most Australian finches reach sexual maturity at approximately six months of age. In the wild, the life expectancy of Australian finches is said to be four to six years (Shephard 1989). No information is available on age/s of natural mortality. The Black-throated Finch's (southern) generation length is estimated at two years, however, this estimate is considered of low reliability due to a lack of life history data (Garnett & Crowley 2000).

Breeding can occur throughout the year under optimal conditions and varies throughout its range (Mitchell 1996; Higgins et al. 2006a; NRA 2007a). In the Townsville area, breeding typically occurs during the wet season, usually between February and May (Mitchell 1996; Higgins et al. 2006; NRA 2007a). In other parts of their range, eggs are laid mainly from August to December, but clutches have also been recorded in March, April and July (Mitchell 1996; Morris et al. 1981; North 1901-14; NRA 2005). Five or six white eggs are usually laid, however, clutch-size is reported to range from 3–9 (Campbell 1974; Mitchell 1996; North 1901-14; Storr 1984c).

Both sexes of the subspecies participate in the construction of the nest, the incubation of the clutch, and in the feeding and brooding of the young (NRA 2005; Zann 1976). In captivity, eggs are incubated for a period of approximately 15 days, chicks fledge at approximately 22 days old, and fledglings become independent approximately 18 days after leaving the nest (Zann 1976).

Black-throated Finches (southern) breed in colonies, mainly in non-remnant native vegetation associated with solodic soils and alluvial plains (NRA 2005), with the dispersion of nests within colonies varying. A single tree may contain up to three nesting pairs or, alternatively, individual nests may be separated by distances of up to 50 m (NRA 2005).

The nests are often built in a hollow branch of a tree, or in a fork of a tree, shrub or sapling. However, it is not uncommon for nests to be placed in other sites, such as in tall grass, amongst mistletoe, beneath active raptor nests, or in an old nest of a Babbler (Pomatostomus spp.) or Diamond Firetail (Stagonopleura guttata) (Baldwin 1976; Campbell 1974; North 1901-14; NRA 2005; Roberts 1955). Nest sites tend to be located in close proximity to water. Near Townsville, the average distance of nest sites (n=11) from semi-permanent water was 280 m, and the average distance of nest sites (n=11) from permanent water was 400 m (NRA 2005). Studies near Townsville found that nests became inactive (which presumably implies that breeding failed) when nests were destroyed by predators or were exposed to wind and heavy rainfall associated with storms (NRA 2005).

The nests are oval in shape and have a spout-like entrance (an arrangement also described as 'bottle-shaped'). They are usually composed of grass (Campbell 1974; North 1901-14). In addition to their breeding nests, Black-throated Finches (southern) also build non-breeding nests that are used for roosting during the non-breeding and (sometimes) breeding periods (NRA 2005).

Black-throated Finches (southern) require habitat where there is access to seeding grasses and water, and will utilize a variety of different habitats for foraging (Mitchell 1996; NRA 2005), particularly in north Queensland during the wet season (BTF Recovery Team 2007; Mitchell 1996; Zann 1976). At Ross River Dam, Black-throated Finches (southern) mainly foraged around roads, but they were also seen feeding in other cleared and open areas, in tall open woodland dominated by species of Erythrophloia or Platyphylla, in riparian habitats, and on flat, raised areas (Mitchell 1996).

Black-throated Finches (southern) feed on the seeds of grasses (such as Urochloa mosambicensis, Digitaria ciliaris, Melinis repens, Chloris inflata) and herbaceous plants (Mitchell 1996; NRA 2005). There appears to be some seasonal variation in the diet. At Ross River Dam, their diet was dominated during the non-breeding period by seeds of Urochloa mosambicensis. However, after dispersing into breeding areas, Digitaria ciliaris was the main species of seed eaten (Mitchell 1996).

At the species level, Black-throated Finches feed mainly on the half-ripe seeds of grasses (for example, Dactyloctenium, Digitaria, Eremochloa, Paspalidium, Setaria), and less often on the seeds of other plants (for example Stylosanthes). They also eat insects (for example termites) and their larvae, especially during the wet (breeding) season (BTF Recovery Team 2004; Cayley 1932; Immelmann 1982; North 1901-14; Smedley 1904; Zann 1976).
Black-throated Finches (southern) take seeds from the ground or from inflorescences. They obtain most of their food by pecking seeds from the ground. However, they will also reach or jump up to take seeds from low inflorescences, perch on stems to take seeds from inflorescences, perch on grass stems and use their body weight to bring the stems to the ground to feed, and reach for inflorenscences from perches other than the food plant (Mitchell 1996).

At the species level, Black-throated Finches drink by sucking, submerging their bills in water for a few seconds at a time. They tend to drink mainly in the early morning and late afternoon, especially when water is scarce, but at sites where water is abundant small numbers may drink throughout the day (Immelmann 1982; Zann 1976).

The movements of the Black-throated Finch (southern) are poorly known. The subspecies is described as being resident around Townsville and Charters Towers (Britton & Britton 2000; Garnett & Crowley 2000), and is said to have been resident at Rockhampton (Longmore 1978) and in northern NSW (Morris et al. 1981).

The Black-throated Finch (southern) may undertake some movements in response to rainfall or drought (Baldwin 1976; McCutcheon 1976; Mitchell 1996). These movements could be prompted by changes in the availability of food during drought or wet conditions (Mitchell 1996).

There may be some local movement away from nest sites once the breeding period is complete (Mitchell 1996). However, Black-throated Finches (southern) are still encountered (at a reduced frequency) at their breeding sites during the non-breeding period. This suggests that birds remain around their nest sites during the non-breeding period, and forage more widely throughout the surrounding habitat (NRA 2005).

No quantitative information is available on territories or home ranges. However, it is possible that the home range of the Black-throated Finch (southern) could be subject to seasonal variation, with birds roaming more widely during the non-breeding period (NRA 2005).

Detection
Black-throated Finches (southern) can be distinguished from the Black-throated Finch (northern) by the white upper-tail coverts (upper-tail coverts are black in the northern subspecies) and by the richer brown colouring to the plumage of the body (BTF Recovery Team 2004; Higgins et al. 2006a; Keast 1958; Schodde & Mason 1999).

Black-throated Finches (southern) are similar in appearance to Long-tailed Finches (Poephila acuticauda), and somewhat similar to the Masked Finch (P. personata) (Higgins et al. 2006a), but confusion between these three species is unlikely as Long-tailed Finches and, for the most part, Masked Finches, are absent from the normal range of the subspecies (Schodde & Mason 1999).

Survey Guidelines
Looking for the presence of other species of grass finch, especially Plum-headed Finches (with which they are known to associate), can help in guiding the search effort for Black-throated Finches (southern) (Ley & Cook 2001).

Detailed survey methods for Black-throated Finches (southern) can be found in the background paper to the Black-throated Finch (southern) Poilcy Statement available at: http://www.environment.gov.au/epbc/guidelines-policies.html.

The decline of Black-throated Finches (southern) began early in the 20th century, and coincided with the development of pastoralism (Franklin 1999a). The decline began, and has been most severe, in the southern part of their range, where the grazing of grassy, riparian woodlands (the main habitat of the subspecies) by sheep and rabbits is likely to have been a major cause of the contraction in range (BTF Recovery Team 2004; Frith 1982b; Garnett & Crowley 2000). The ongoing clearance of woodland habitats is likely to be increasing the pressure on the subspecies (Garnett & Crowley 2000). In addition, the trapping of birds for captive trade is a potential additional cause of the decline, and may have led to the extinction of some local populations (Garnett & Crowley 2000; Roberts 1979).

Known threats to the Black-throated Finch (southern) include:

  • Clearance and fragmentation of woodlands, riparian habitats and wattle shrublands (BTF Recovery Team 2004; NRA 2005).
  • Degradation of habitat by domestic livestock and rabbits, including the alteration of fuel loads, vegetation structure and the availability of food during the wet season (BTF Recovery Team 2004; NRA 2005).
  • Alteration of habitat by changes in fire regimes (BTF Recovery Team 2004; NRA 2005).
  • Invasion of habitat by exotic weeds, including exotic grasses (BTF Recovery Team 2004).
  • Illegal trapping (BTF Recovery Team 2004).
  • Predation by introduced predators (BTF Recovery Team 2004).
  • Hybridization with the northern subspecies (BTF Recovery Team 2004).

Other threats
It has also been suggested that land management practices that alter and/or reduce the availability of food during critical stages of the life cycle, or that reduce the quantity, duration and/or distribution of water sources within a landscape, could have a detrimental effect on Black-throated Finch (southern) populations (NRA 2005).

The distribution of the Black-throated Finch (southern) indicates that birds could be exposed to cyclonic activity. No information is available on the impact of cyclones upon Black-throated Finch (southern) populations, however, studies have shown that breeding can fail if nests are exposed to strong winds and heavy rainfall during storms (NRA 2005). This information, together with the small size and fragmented nature of the remaining populations, suggests that cyclones could potentially have a significant impact on the long-term survival of the subspecies.

The overall objective of the National recovery plan for the Black-throated finch southern subspecies (Poephila cincta cincta) (BTF Recovery Team et al. 2007) is to manage and protect the Black-throated Finch (southern) and its habitat, and to promote the recovery of the southern subspecies. The actions of this recovery plan seek to understand the relative importance of the known threats, verify the suspected decline of the subspecies and protect and enhance existing habitat. Actions include:

  • Investigate the breeding requirements and threats to key breeding areas.
  • Investigate feeding and other habitat requirements.
  • Document sightings in the master database for black-throated finch sightings.
  • Develop and distribute standard survey and environmental assessment guidelines.
  • Undertake mapping and habitat modelling.
  • Investigate development of other statutory planning instruments to minimise impacts of development on Black-throated Finch.
  • Determine suitability of birds currently in captivity for a re-introduction project.
  • Increase public awareness of the status of and threats to the Black-throated Finch (southern).

    Additionally, the Black-throated Finch Recovery Team (2004) recommended that a captive breeding population be established and that sites for the re-introduction of the subspecies be identified.

    Recovery actions already undertaken, as identified by the Black-throated Finch Recovery Team (2004), include:

    • The formation of the Black-throated Finch Recovery Team to co-ordinate the recovery effort.
    • The creation of a database, managed by the Black-throated Finch Recovery Team, in which all known sightings are recorded.
    • Surveys of the subspecies have been conducted in NSW (in the Inverell-Ashford, Tenterfield and Boggabilla districts in 2000) and Queensland (at waterholes near Townsville in 2002 and 2003).
    • The promotion of community awareness through the distribution of questionnaire leaflets and interviews on radio (both of which were conducted in association with the survey of the subspecies in NSW in 2000), the publication of articles in birdwatcher newsletters and avicultural magazines, and the establishment of a program by the Townsville City Council that includes among its objectives an increase in public awareness at Oak Valley, south of Townsville, where the subspecies remains locally common.

    The implementation of the recovery actions are undertaken by the Black-throated Finch Recovery Team, in collaboration with the Department of Environment and Conservation (NSW) and the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (BTF Recovery Team 2004).

    In 2008 an expert workshop was held in Townsville to help develop an EPBC Act Significant Impact Policy Statement for the Black-Throated Finch (southern). EPBC Act Policy Statements aim to build on the information and explanations in EPBC Act Policy Statement 1.1 to provide more specific guidance for internal and external stakeholders on what actions are likely to constitute a significant impact on a specific high priority species (such as the Black-throated Finch (southern)) or species group (for example, migratory shorebirds). The policy statement and its associated background paper are available at: http://www.environment.gov.au/epbc/guidelines-policies.html.

  • A study of the foraging ecology of the Black-throated Finch has been undertaken by Mitchell (1996), and a study of call variation of three species of grassfinches was undertaken by Zann (1975).

    In addition to these published studies, Natural Resource Assessments Environmental Consultants was commissioned by Enertrade to undertake studies of Black-throated Finch (southern) populations at the upper Ross River and Antill Creek in 2004 and 2005. These studies collected information on habitat preferences, breeding biology and ecology, population dynamics, behaviour and diet (NRA 2005).

    The National recovery plan for the Black-throated finch southern subspecies (Poephila cincta cincta) (BTF Recovery Team 2007) provides information on the ecology and management for the Black-throated Finch (southern).

    The following table lists known and perceived threats to this species. Threats are based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) threat classification version 1.1.

    Threat Class Threatening Species References
    Agriculture and Aquaculture:Agriculture and Aquaculture:Land clearing, habitat fragmentation and/or habitat degradation The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2000 (Garnett, S.T. & G.M. Crowley, 2000) [Cwlth Action Plan].
    Commonwealth Listing Advice on Land clearance (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2001w) [Listing Advice].
    Commonwealth Listing Advice on Southern Black-throated Finch (Poephila cincta cincta) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2005s) [Listing Advice].
    Agriculture and Aquaculture:Livestock Farming and Grazing:Grazing pressures and associated habitat changes National recovery plan for the black-throated finch southern subspecies Poephila cincta cincta. Report to the Department of the Environment and Water Resources, Canberra (Black-throated Finch Recovery Team (BTF Recovery Team), 2007) [Recovery Plan].
    Biological Resource Use:Hunting and Collecting Terrestrial Animals:Illegal hunting/harvesting and collection National recovery plan for the black-throated finch southern subspecies Poephila cincta cincta. Report to the Department of the Environment and Water Resources, Canberra (Black-throated Finch Recovery Team (BTF Recovery Team), 2007) [Recovery Plan].
    Climate Change and Severe Weather:Habitat Shifting and Alteration:Habitat loss, modification and/or degradation National recovery plan for the black-throated finch southern subspecies Poephila cincta cincta. Report to the Department of the Environment and Water Resources, Canberra (Black-throated Finch Recovery Team (BTF Recovery Team), 2007) [Recovery Plan].
    Ecosystem/Community Stresses:Indirect Ecosystem Effects:Loss and/or fragmentation of habitat and/or subpopulations National recovery plan for the black-throated finch southern subspecies Poephila cincta cincta. Report to the Department of the Environment and Water Resources, Canberra (Black-throated Finch Recovery Team (BTF Recovery Team), 2007) [Recovery Plan].
    Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation Oryctolagus cuniculus (Rabbit, European Rabbit) National recovery plan for the black-throated finch southern subspecies Poephila cincta cincta. Report to the Department of the Environment and Water Resources, Canberra (Black-throated Finch Recovery Team (BTF Recovery Team), 2007) [Recovery Plan].
    The threat posed by pest animals to biodiversity in New South Wales (Coutts-Smith, A.J., P.S. Mahon, M. Letnic & P.O. Downey, 2007) [Management Plan].
    Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation by weeds National recovery plan for the black-throated finch southern subspecies Poephila cincta cincta. Report to the Department of the Environment and Water Resources, Canberra (Black-throated Finch Recovery Team (BTF Recovery Team), 2007) [Recovery Plan].
    Natural System Modifications:Fire and Fire Suppression:Inappropriate and/or changed fire regimes (frequency, timing, intensity) National recovery plan for the black-throated finch southern subspecies Poephila cincta cincta. Report to the Department of the Environment and Water Resources, Canberra (Black-throated Finch Recovery Team (BTF Recovery Team), 2007) [Recovery Plan].
    Species Stresses (suggest Reproductive Resilience?):Indirect Species Effects:Reduction of genetic intergrity of a species due to hybridisation National recovery plan for the black-throated finch southern subspecies Poephila cincta cincta. Report to the Department of the Environment and Water Resources, Canberra (Black-throated Finch Recovery Team (BTF Recovery Team), 2007) [Recovery Plan].

    Baldwin, M. (1976). Distribution of the Black-throated Finch. Australian Birds. 11:13-14.

    Barrett, G., A. Silcocks, S. Barry, R. Cunningham & R. Poulter (2003). The New Atlas of Australian Birds. Melbourne, Victoria: Birds Australia.

    Biodiversity Assessment and Management Pty Ltd (BAAM) (2011). CopperString Project SEIS - Terrestrial Ecology Assessment Report. Report prepared for CopperString Pty Ltd.

    Black-throated Finch Recovery Team (BTF Recovery Team) (2004). Recovery Plan for the Black-throated Finch Southern Subspecies Poephila cincta cincta. Hurstville, NSW: Department of Environment and Conservation; and Brisbane, Queensland: Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service.

    Black-throated Finch Recovery Team (BTF Recovery Team) (2007). National recovery plan for the black-throated finch southern subspecies Poephila cincta cincta. Report to the Department of the Environment and Water Resources, Canberra. [Online]. Hurstville, NSW: Department of Environment and Climate Change; and Brisbane, Queensland: Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/p-cincta.html.

    Black-throated Finch Recovery Team (BTF Recovery Team) (2008). Personal Communication.

    Blakers, M., S.J.J.F. Davies & P.N. Reilly (1984). The Atlas of Australian Birds. Melbourne, Victoria: Melbourne University Press.

    Bravery, J.A. (1970). The birds of Atherton Shire, Queensland. Emu. 70:49-63.

    Britton, P.L. (1992). The Queensland Ornithological Society Bird Report, 1991. Sunbird. 22:51-83.

    Britton, P.L. & H.A. Britton (2000). The birds of Charters Towers, north Queensland. Sunbird. 30:61-88.

    Campbell, A.J. (1974). Nests and Eggs of Australian Birds: Including the Geographical Distribution of the Species and Popular Observations Thereon. Melbourne: Wren.

    Cayley, N.W. (1932). Australian Finches in Bush and Aviary. Sydney: Angus & Robertson.

    Cooper, R.M. & I.A.W. McAllan (1995). The Birds of Western New South Wales. Preliminary Atlas. Albury, NSW: NSW Bird Atlassers.

    Ford, J. (1986). Avian hybridisation and allopatry in the region of the Einasleigh Uplands and Burdekin-Lynd Divide, north-eastern Queensland. Emu. 86:87--110.

    Ford, J. (1987). Hybrid zones in Australian birds. Emu. 87:158-178.

    Franklin, D.C. (1999a). Evidence of disarray amongst granivorous bird assemblages in the savannas of northern Australia, a region of sparse human settlement. Biological Conservation. 90:53-68.

    Frith, H.J. (1982b). Pigeons and Doves of Australia. Melbourne: Rigby.

    Garnett, S.T., ed. (1993). Threatened and Extinct Birds of Australia. Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union Report 82 2nd (corrected) Edition. Melbourne: Royal Australian Ornithology Union and Canberra: Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service.

    Garnett, S.T. & G.M. Crowley (2000). The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2000. [Online]. Canberra, ACT: Environment Australia and Birds Australia. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/action/birds2000/index.html.

    GHD (2010). Hard Rock Quarry Sites Ecological Survey Report. Report for the Port of Townsville Ltd (EPBC 2010/5461).

    Gill, H.B. (1970). Birds of Innisfail and hinterland. Emu. 70:105-116.

    Gould, J. (1972). Handbook to the Birds of Australia. Melbourne: Landsdowne Press.

    Hall, B.P. (Ed.) (1974). Birds of the Harold Hall Australian Expeditions, 1962-70. London: British Museum (Natural History).

    Higgins, P.J., J.M. Peter & S.J. Cowling, eds. (2006a). Boatbill to Starlings. In: Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds. 7. Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

    Holmes, G. (1998b). A review of the distribution, status and ecology of the Star Finch Neochmia ruficauda in Queensland. Australian Bird Watcher. 17:278-289.

    Immelmann, K. (1982). Australian Finches in Bush and Aviary. Sydney: Angus & Robertson.

    International Species Information System (ISIS) (2005a). Locations of captive populations. [Online]. www.isis.org. [Accessed: 08-Nov-2005].

    Keast, A. (1958). Intraspecific variation in Australian finches. Emu. 58:219--246.

    Lavery, H.J. & N. Hopkins (1963). Birds of the Townsville district of north Queensland. Emu. 63:242-252.

    Ley, A.J. & S.M. Cook (2001). The Black-throated Finch Poephila cincta in New South Wales. Australian Bird Watcher. 19:115-20.

    Longmore, N.W. (1978). Avifauna of the Rockhampton area, Queensland. Sunbird. 9:25-53.

    Lord, E.A.R. (1956). The Birds of the Murphy's Creek District, southern Queensland. Emu. 56:100-128.

    Magrath, M.J.L., M.A. Weston, P. Olsen & M. Antos (2004). Draft Survey Standards for Birds: Species Accounts. Melbourne, Victoria: Report for the Department of the Environment and Heritage by Birds Australia.

    McCutcheon, A.O. (1976). A record of the Black-throated Finch at Berida, Gilgandra. Australian Birds. 11:12.

    Mitchell, D.F. (1996). Foraging Ecology of the Black-throated Finch Poephila cincta cincta. M.Sc. Thesis. Townsville: James Cook University of North Queensland.

    Morris, A.K. (1994). Rare birds in New South Wales 1992. Third report of the New South Wales Ornithological Records Appraisal Committee. Australian Birds. 27:140-150.

    Morris, A.K. & A. Burton (1994). New South Wales Annual Bird Report 1992. Australian Birds. 27:97-139.

    Morris, A.K. & A. Burton (1996a). New South Wales Annual Bird Report 1994. Australian Birds. 29:63-112.

    Morris, A.K., A.R. McGill & G. Holmes (1981). Handlist of Birds in New South Wales. Sydney: NSW Field Ornithologists Club.

    Natural Resource Assessment Environmental Consultants (NRA) (2005). Enertrade North Queensland Gas Pipeline Black-throated Finch Studies (Post-Construction). Unpublished report prepared for Enertrade, Brisbane.

    Natural Resource Assessment Environmental Consultants (NRA) (2007). Survey and Assessment of the Black-throated Finch (Poephila cincta cincta) at the Chisholm Trail Rural Residential Development, Townsville. Unpublished report prepared for the Department of Environment and Water Resources.

    North, A.J. (1901-1914). Nests and Eggs of Birds Found Breeding in Australia and Tasmania. Sydney, NSW: Australian Museum.

    NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change (NSW DECC) (2005aj). Black-throated Finch (southern subspecies) - profile. [Online]. NSW: NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change. Available from: http://www.threatenedspecies.environment.nsw.gov.au/tsprofile/profile.aspx?id=10641.

    Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management (QLD DERM) (2009). Black-throated Finch (white-rumped subspecies) Profile. [Online]. Queensland: Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management. Available from: http://www.derm.qld.gov.au/wildlife-ecosystems/wildlife/az_of_animals/blackthroated_finch_southern_subspecies.html.

    Roberts, G.J. (1977). Birds and conservation in Queensland. Sunbird. 8:73-82.

    Roberts, G.J. (1979). The Birds of South-East Queensland. Brisbane: Queensland Conservation Council.

    Roberts, N.L. (1955). A survey of the habit of nest-appropriation. Emu. 55:110-126.

    Schodde, R. & I.J. Mason (1999). The Directory of Australian Birds: Passerines. Melbourne, Victoria: CSIRO.

    Shephard, M. (1989). Aviculture in Australia: Keeping and Breeding Aviary Birds. Melbourne: Black Cockatoo Press.

    Smedley, J.H. (1904). Finches in northern Queensland. Emu. 4:68--69.

    Storr, G.M. (1984c). Revised list of Queensland birds. Records of the Western Australian Museum Supplement. 19:1-189.

    Storr, G.M. (1984d). The distribution of Estrildine finches in Queensland. The Sunbird. 14:1-6.

    Townsville Bulletin (2008). Refuge for rare finch. Page(s) 10.

    Wheeler, R. (1959b). The R.A.O.U. Camp-out at Noosa Heads, Queensland, 1958. Emu. 59:229-249.

    Wieneke, J. (1989). Birds of Townsville and Where to Find Them. Townsville: Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland.

    Woodall, P.F. (1987). Sparrows and finches (Fringillidae, Passeridae and Ploceidae) in the Brisbane region, 1972-1983: relative numbers, distribution and species interaction. Sunbird. 17:37-51.

    Zann, R. (1975). Inter- and intraspecific variation in the calls of three species of grassfinches of the subgenus Poephila (Gould) (Estrildidae). Zeitschrift für Tierpsychologie. 39:85-125.

    Zann, R. (1976). Distribution, status and breeding of Black-throated Finches Poephila cincta in northern Queensland. Emu. 76:201-206.

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    This database is designed to provide statutory, biological and ecological information on species and ecological communities, migratory species, marine species, and species and species products subject to international trade and commercial use protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). It has been compiled from a range of sources including listing advice, recovery plans, published literature and individual experts. While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, no guarantee is given, nor responsibility taken, by the Commonwealth for its accuracy, currency or completeness. The Commonwealth does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage that may be occasioned directly or indirectly through the use of, or reliance on, the information contained in this database. The information contained in this database does not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth. This database is not intended to be a complete source of information on the matters it deals with. Individuals and organisations should consider all the available information, including that available from other sources, in deciding whether there is a need to make a referral or apply for a permit or exemption under the EPBC Act.

    Citation: Department of the Environment (2014). Poephila cincta cincta in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Mon, 21 Apr 2014 18:28:17 +1000.