Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Passerine bird assemblages of mineral sands minesite revegetated with native woody species and a nearby natural bushland reserve near Capel, Western Australia, Australia

Published source details

Comer S.J. & Wooller R.D. (2002) A comparison of the passerine avifaunas of a rehabilitated minesite and a nearby reserve in south-western Australia. Emu, 102, 305-311



To assess restoration success on a former 300 ha mineral sands minesite rehabilitated about 20 years earlier, passerine bird assemblages were compared with those in a nearby Banksia woodland-mixed heath reserve, near the town of Capel (33º35’S, 115º30’E), south-western Australia.




Vegetation was planted from 1977 to 1983 at the minesite. From July 1996 to February 1997, twice monthly bird censuses were conducted along a 1.1 km transect in each of two areas (8 ha and 5 ha) at the minesite and two (9 and 10 ha) in the reserve (94 ha) 4-9 km away. At each, birds were mist-netted in representative habitat types and pollen samples taken to assess plants that they visited. Vegetation (> 50 cm tall) cover and density was estimated and flowering of important (nectar-providing) species recorded.




During censuses, a total of 603 birds (36 species) were recorded in the reserve and 533 (33 species) at the minesite (28 common to both). The same common gleaning insectivores were present in both areas and at similar abundance. Regards nectarivores, the same species of honeyeaters occurred in both areas but at the minesite larger species were far more numerous (e.g. two commonest species combined: 102 vs. 29 in the reserve) and small spinebills far less common (e.g. western spinebill Acanthorynchus superciliosus: 7 vs. 61). Observations and vegetation data suggested that this was in part due to differences in plant communities and vegetation structure, but also as nectar-providing shrubs and trees had been planted in clumps, thus allowing larger honeyeaters to dominate these nectar sources.

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