Passerine birds

​Application for Scientific Permit – Available for Public Comment​

Public comment on the following application for a Scientific Research (Fauna) Permit is open until 11 May 2022.

Applicant: University of Tasmania

Species/Taxon: Passeriformes – Silvereye (Zosterops lateralis), Grey Fantail (Rhipidura albiscapa), Striated Pardalote (Pardalotus striatus) 

Location: Private and public land around Tasmania (with a focus on the SE)

Title of research: Passerine migration east-coast Australia

Aim of project: 
This project focuses on answering questions about how migration shapes populations of some of our smallest birds in relation to genetics and individual health (parasite loads).

Every year in winter a number of bird species leave Tasmania and migrate to Victoria, NSW and QLD for winter. However, for some species a small proportion of the population remains in Tasmania. What causes some individuals to leave and others to stay is unclear. In other studies small genetic changes have been shown to result in migratory populations becoming year-round residents and this may explain shifts from highly dispersive/mobile to sedentary forms. To test this we will collect a small number of blood samples from individuals of migratory species that are over-wintering in Tasmania. 

Previous studies have also shown that migratory species have a greater number and diversity of parasites than non-migratory species. Not only does the stress of migration make them more vulnerable to infection but they have more opportunity to pick up different parasites. We will look at the gut parasites of migratory vs non-migratory silvereyes as well as those from other sympatric non-migratory species by collecting faecal samples in addition to looking at blood parasites and ecto parasites (e.g. ticks and hippoboscid flies).

Maximum likely numbers of individuals involved: 
Silvereye – 70, Grey Fantail – 15, Striated Pardalote – 15

Activities undertaken and methods:
1. Birds will be caught in a mist-nets purposely designed for catching small birds.
2. Each bird will be held for up to 10 minutes in a bag to collect faecal deposits they may drop. Non target species will be released immediately
3. Individuals will be banded with a single metal band issued by the Australian Bird and Bat Banding Scheme (for individual identification). Morphometric measurements (e.g. bill length and wing length) and reference photos (e.g. to assess moult scores) will also be taken at this time.
4. A small blood sample will be collected from the brachial vein (20-40ul) using a 26g needle to be used for both genetics and to look at blood parasites.  

Fate of animals: All birds will be released at the site of capture and will be free to live their lives as they did previously.

Likely impact on species involved (including any by-catch): All techniques used in this project are common practice in bird research and will be conducted by experienced researchers. Therefore, the impact of this study is expected to be minimal and there are no known or expected long term impacts of this type of research on individual animals. A small amount of by-catch in the mist-nets is likely and will largely include thornbills and fairywrens. These individuals will be released without further processing.


Scientific Research Permits
Environment Division
GPO Box 44
Hobart TAS 7000