LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Facts on the finch
I'd like to have a go at answering G Townsend's letter of 13 May re the Southern Black Throated Finch. My source is the Species Profile and Threats Database, a repository of species information from a range of primary sources including published literature and knowledgeable individuals.
The historic range of the SBTF was from northern NSW, near the Queensland-NSW border, through eastern Queensland north to the divide between the Burdekin and Lynd Rivers.
Their habitat is grassy, open woodlands and forests, typically dominated by gum trees or paperbarks, near watercourses and wetlands.
They are thought to require a mosaic of different habitats to find seed during the wet season.
Their nest sites tend to be located in close proximity to water, often built in a hollow branch of a tree, or in a fork of a tree, shrub or sapling.
Other nest sites have included tall grass, amongst mistletoe, or in old nests of other birds.
Their numbers were first observed to drop as sheep grazing and rabbits impinged on the southern part of the range.
In the northern part cattle grazing then also commenced. This impact on the finches is not surprising as sheep, rabbits and cattle all damage or destroy the vegetation that provides food and shelter to the finches.
In NSW the Black-throated Finch (southern) was formerly widespread and 'tolerably abundant' in the Northern Tablelands and North-West Slopes Regions. The subspecies has not been recorded in NSW since the mid 1990s, despite specific searches for it.
In Qld it has been absent from Brisbane and its surrounds since the 1930s or 1940s. The lack of recent records from NSW and southern Queensland suggests that the Black-throated Finch (southern) may now be extinct in NSW.
It appears to have become extinct around most of Rockhampton during the early to mid 1970s, despite having been numerous here during the 1950s. There have been very few records of the subspecies south of 23° S (about Canoona) since the late 1970s, and there have been almost no records from this region since 1995. The subspecies is now extinct at most sites south of the Burdekin River.
It is still considered locally common around Townsville and Charters Towers where flocks of about 10 birds are seen from time to time.
I will include three maps taken from the National Recovery Plan showing decline in range over time.
If anyone thinks this information is incorrect and wants to contact the Species Profile and Threats Database to make corrections, the email address is firstname.lastname@example.org