National recovery plan for the Norfolk Island scarlet robin (Petroica multicolor multicolor) and the Norfolk Island golden whistler (Pachycephala pectoralis xanthoprocta)

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Department of the Environment and Heritage, August 2005
ISBN 0 642 55166 9

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The Norfolk Island scarlet robin Petroica multicolor multicolor (robin) and Norfolk Island golden whistler Pachycephala pectoralis xanthoprocta (whistler) are only found on Norfolk Island (29°02'S, 167°57'E). Although once found throughout the forests of Norfolk Island, and probably also on Phillip Island 6km to the south, each taxon is now restricted to a single population, in Norfolk Island National Park (465ha) and a few forest remnants mainly within 2km of the national park.

The total population sizes are currently estimated to be 440 breeding pairs of robins and 535 breeding pairs of whistlers. Total population sizes of both taxa are primarily limited by the small area of remaining suitable habitat, habitat fragmentation, habitat degradation and weed infestation, and introduced predators such as feral cats Felis catus and black rats Rattus rattus.

This recovery plan builds on earlier work to recover the Norfolk Island green parrot Cyanoramphus cookii and Norfolk Island boobook Ninox novaeseelandiae undulata, and incorporates a multi-species approach wherever possible. It outlines actions which should change the conservation status of both the robin and whistler from 'vulnerable' to 'least concern' within 20 years. This will be achieved by culling predators in forest remnants near Norfolk Island National Park (NINP), establishing and maintaining forested links to remnants, and if appropriate establishing second breeding populations on Phillip Island, which is free of mammalian predators. Population increases will also be achieved by extending the program to appropriate public reserves, providing habitat restoration incentives to private landholders, and involving the community in the recovery program.

Ultimately, the long-term goal should be to make Norfolk Island free of introduced mammalian predators (see Simberloff 2002). While this action is beyond the scope of this recovery plan, several studies cited in Veitch and Clout (2002) of cat and rat eradication from large islands, including those settled by humans, indicate that total eradication is a feasible target.