Threatened Species for the day – squatter pigeon

This is the fourth and final threatened species to finish off our celebration of National Bird Week. We would like to start it off with a big thankyou to BirdLife Australia and particularly to Dean Ingwersen for his assistance with supplying photographs of each of the species we have exhibited this week. BirdLife Australia not only promote National Bird Week on this week in October but they also undertake a range of amazing conservation programs for many of our threatened Australian bird species. For more information on BirdLife Australia or to assist them with their conservation programs please visit http://birdlife.org.au/

Our last threatened bird article for the week is on a species out of Queensland . The squatter pigeon (southern subspecies) (Geophaps scripta scripta) is listed as vulnerable under the Queensland Nature Conservation Act 1992, vulnerable under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and as endangered under the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995.

The squatter pigeon is a medium-sized ground-dwelling pigeon. They are brown with black and white markings on the face and a blue-grey breast bordered below by a white ‘V’.  The known distribution of the squatter pigeon extends south from the Burdekin-Lynd divide in the southern region of Cape York Peninsula to the Border Rivers region of northern NSW, and from the east coast to Hughenden, Longreach and Charleville, Queensland.

The squatter pigeon feeds almost exclusively on seeds from grasses, herbs and shrubs, commonly foraging along the sides of roads. They are also often seen around stockyards, picking seeds from the cattle droppings. Given their diet, the species is rarely seen far from permanent or seasonal rivers, creeks, lakes, ponds and waterholes or artificial dams which they visit daily. This species nests on the ground, in a small excavation dug by the adult bird and lined with grass and leaves.

This species population declined markedly during the late 19th and early 20th centuries however the decline has slowed and the southern subspecies is now considered locally common in the northern parts of its range. The greatest current threats to this species are the loss and fragmentation of habitat due to clearing for agricultural purposes, the degradation of habitat by overgrazing, the degradation of habitat by invasive weeds, and predation by numerous avian and terrestrial predators.

Umwelt ecologists have undertaken surveys for this species as part of ecological surveys throughout Queensland, and we look forward to further survey work for this species. For more information on our ecological services provided from our Brisbane office please contact the Brisbane Office Manager, Toby Grogan at tgrogan@umwelt.com.au or call 1300 793 267.