People who get into dinosaur watching are always happy to see all birds, even all the hosts of the little brown ones. The Guardian has an interesting article up about endangered birds, and unfortunately, the little brown birds get overlooked in the race to preserve the more colourful ones.
In January 2016, a keen birdwatcher named Dion Hobcroft walked into the Pegarah state forest on Tasmania’s King Island with a recorded birdcall and took the first blurry photographs of the King Island brown thornbill.
The brown thornbill, Acanthiza pusilla archibaldi, is a subspecies of the Tasmanian thornbill, distinguished from its cousins on the big island by a slightly longer beak.
It is about 10cm long, coloured various shades of brown, and thoroughly unexciting to the untrained eye. Hobcroft’s was only the fourth confirmed sighting since 1974.
According to a forthcoming review of Australia’s avian threatened species programs, the King Island brown thornbill is most likely to be the next bird to be declared extinct.
It shares the podium with the King Island scrubtit, Acanthornis magnus greenianus, which, with a population of fewer than 50 adults spread across three isolated areas of ever-shrinking melaleuca swamp, is No 3 on the list.
The orange-bellied parrot, which stops off on King Island on its precarious annual flight from south-western Tasmania to the Victorian coast, and has a wild adult population of fewer than 20 individuals, is the second.
The difference is, you have probably heard of the orange-bellied parrot. As of Wednesday, it had garnered more than 1,700 votes in the Guardian’s bird of the year poll, and last year a crowdfunding campaign raised $140,000 to fund fieldwork during its breeding season. The thornbill didn’t make the list.