The Conservation of Nomadic Desert Birds
Nomadic birds appear to be generally abundant wherever they occur. But are they? While it is true that none of the nomadic bird species in the world are classified as “threatened” or “endangered” in any of the Red Data books (Collar et al. 1994), what do we really know about population sizes, reproductive rates and survival of nomadic species? For almost all nomadic species, breeding success is low and variable from year to year (e.g. Maclean 1970b), predation pressure on adults and young is high, and breeding opportunities are intermittent in space and time. The extreme is shown by the Banded Stilt Cladorhynchus leucocephalus in central Australia, where breeding takes place at intervals of some years, in colonies numbering several thousands of birds (Robinson and Minton 1989). Although a limited amount of information on reproductive success can be collected for most species of nomadic birds, information on survival is largely unknown, and threats to the continued existence of species in certain areas have to be inferred from land use and the pressure on the environment. Although Reid and Fleming (1992, 1994) have suggested that nomadic passerines are less at risk than sedentary passerines in arid Australia, there are nevertheless risks for nomads.
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