Brolgas - A Western Districts Icon under Threat
Brolgas (Grus rubicunda) are the largest waterbirds in south-east Australia and are iconic in the Western Districts of Victoria. These elegant birds stand to 1.5m tall and are grey with striking red markings. Brolgas live in and around wetlands which provide them with nesting materials as well as food such as waterbugs, seeds, shoots and bulbs.
Brolgas are not migratory species, and those that are found in the Western Districts live permanently in the area. Brolgas mate for life. If you are lucky, you might witness Brolgas ‘dancing' as part of their mating ritual.
Whilst common in Northern Australia, brolgas are becoming increasingly rare in southern Australia. Key threats to the Brolga are fox predation of chicks and loss of their vital wetland habitat.
The Western District's landscape is covered by thousands of small wetlands, most of which dry in summer and autumn and occur on private farm land. Unfortunately more than 7800, or 53%, of wetlands that once occurred in the Western Districts have already been lost through drainage and inappropriate management. We are currently undergoing a new wave of wetland loss because of drought and climate change as well as damage made to these ecosystems through cropping, drainage, over-stocking and plantations.
Brolgas in the Western Districts have dwindled to around 500 birds, and on the current trajectory it is very possible that they will have completely died out in our children's lifetime.
Each year you can see flocks of Brolgas and other wetlands birds circling the skies looking -sometimes in vain - for suitable wetlands sites to flock and nest. These sites are becoming fewer and fewer.
It is up to our generation to protect the Brolgas of the Western Districts by looking after their wetland habitat and making people aware of their plight. For more information on wetlands and wetland protection, visit the Glenelg Hopkins CMA website at www.ghcma.vic.gov.au.
To download a poster click here
To learn about the TWEET project click here
Brolga Recovery Group Newsletter March 2010 click here
Brolga Recovery Group newsletter January 2011 click here