Keeping the Yellow Chat flying in Top End skies

BEAUTIFUL BIRD: Robin Leppitt is researching the endangered Yellow Chat.

BEAUTIFUL BIRD: Robin Leppitt is researching the endangered Yellow Chat.

An elusive yet eye-catching endangered bird living on the floodplains of the Alligator, Mary and Adelaide rivers in the Northern Territory has been thrown a lifeline by researchers and artists.

Charles Darwin University PhD candidate Robin Leppitt said that the Alligator Rivers Yellow Chat (Epthianura crocea tunneyi) was listed as “endangered” and was believed to be in decline, with only 27 birds at last survey.

“Despite being listed by the Federal Government as one of the 20 highest priority birds for conservation, the chat remains poorly studied,” Mr Leppitt said.

Through his PhD Mr Leppitt hopes to understand the causes and consequences of the species’ rarity to improve its conservation management.

“Working with the Indigenous traditional owners living on the country where the Yellow Chat is found I hope to investigate aspects of its ecology including its habitat use, breeding and relationship with bushfires, to discover its major threats,” he said.

Mr Leppitt said his research was vital to prevent the species extinction.

“The main aim of the research is to provide practical and affordable management outcomes for land managers to conserve the subspecies,” he said.

“The survival of threatened species such as the Yellow Chat relies upon effective management actions within limited budgets, which are far more easily devised with up to date and accurate ecological data.”

The CDU Art Gallery has helped raise more than $4000 to assist Mr Leppitt undertake his fieldwork during his PhD.