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Caring for the Black-throated finch

31 May 2023

Caring for the Black-throated finch

Distinct in looks and delicate in size, the Black-throated finch (finch) is a native Australian bird that has made its home in north and central Queensland.

Named for its prominent black throat, this species of finch is found in the Townsville region, in the Brigalow Belt and Desert Uplands and around the Carmichael Mine.

To protect this fascinating native bird, Bravus Mining and Resources developed a research program and a targeted Management Plan.

As with all of our environmental plans and strategies, the Black-throated finch Management Plan was prepared by scientific experts and this plan was based on seven years of expert ecological studies.

Caring for the Black-throated finch is part of our commitment to respecting the environment in which we operate and conducting our operations responsibly and sustainably.

What is the Black-throated finch?

In the 12 years Bravus Mining and Resources has spent studying the Black-throated finch, much has been learned about this unique Australian bird.

At just 12 centimetres long, the finch is small enough to fit in the palm of a hand and weighs just 15 grams, the same weight as a $1 and $2 coin.

It may be named for its distinctive black throat, but the finch is a colourful bird with an orange belly, brown and white wings and grey head.

Bravus’ Black-throated finch research program has unlocked a number of new scientific insights into this fascinating bird and has also undertaken the first official population estimate for the finch near the Carmichael Mine.

Within the combined 75,000 hectares of Bravus’ pastoral lease and , there are up to 2,200 finches across 102 sites.

Our research program has shown that the birds like to nest in the branches of Acacia and Eucalyptus trees and like patches of bare or open ground to forage for fallen seed or seed close to the ground.

Our research also indicates that the little birds mate for life.

What else is Bravus doing to research the Black-throated finch you may ask?

What is the Bravus Black-throated finch research program?

Bravus commenced its research into the Black-throated finch in 2020 and its insights will be used to help support finch populations elsewhere in Queensland.

The research, which is delivered by third-party ecologists and experts, is studying the finch population living within the 75,000 hectares of Bravus’ mining lease and the Moray Downs West conservation areas.

So far, 140 birds have been tagged—with radio tags weighing less than two per cent of their weight—and 263 birds have been colour banded.

These monitoring devices help scientists to better understand the finch’s habitat use, movements, foraging behaviour, nest site selection and relationship with water.

The researchers also conduct surveys and monitoring three times each year using remote camera observations, bioacoustics monitoring, and water source inspections.

The research has uncovered a number of fascinating insights into the finch already, including:

  • the largest recorded individual bird movement was some 20 kilometres
  • the finch has a 165-hectare home range
  • the birds have an average distance of 4 kilometres between their nest and a permanent water source.

The insights from the research are helping Bravus to better care for the Black-throated finch habitat, with changes made to our land management practices based on these learnings.

The results are also provided to the Queensland Government to improve the management of Black-throated finch populations in other parts of the state.

The research is part of the many actions Bravus is taking to protect the Black-throated finch.

How does Bravus protect the Black-throated finch?

Bravus is committed to responsibly managing the environment in which we operate and follows a dedicated Black-throated finch Management Plan to protect this unique species.

The Management Plan complies with the strict Australian and Queensland regulatory conditions and details a range of practical actions to protect the finch and its habitat.

These include weed and fire management practices, grazing management and enhancing water source locations.

As part of its environmental efforts, Bravus created a dedicated conservation area to protect the local habitat for flora and fauna, including the Black-throated finch.

The 33,000-hectare conservation area is more than 126 times the size of the current open cut mine area at the Carmichael Mine, making it one of the largest privately managed conservation areas in Queensland.

Bravus has signed an agreement with Woongal Environmental Services to manage the Black-throated finch habitat on the non-mined areas of our leases, and the conservation area.

Woongal Environmental Services is majority owned by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and it employs rangers, land and environmental managers, and support staff, the majority of whom are Indigenous.

To support the finch habitat, their work includes environmental monitoring and reporting, land and weed management, and installing fire trails and fences to protect important and sensitive habitat.

Following scientific insights from our finch research program, a number of changes to our land management practices have been made to further protect the health of the local finch population.

These include:

  • cultural fire burning practices conducted in partnership with Woongal Environmental Services to encourage the regeneration of important finch food species
  • adjusting cattle stocking rates to manage grass and weed cover
  • managing pest animals and weeds to reduce impacts to the finch habitat.

The 2021 Black-throated finch Management Plan Annual Report demonstrated that Bravus’ plans to support the finch are working and the species is thriving.

Protecting the Black-throated finch 

Bravus Mining and Resources works hard to protect and enhance the habitat around its operation to support local flora and fauna like the Black-throated finch.

More than seven years of expert ecological studies informed the practical actions in our dedicated finch Management Plan as well as the five-year-long research program led by world experts.

Our research scientists, First Nations rangers and environmental team work hard on the ground to monitor the behaviour and wellbeing of the unique finches and to undertake a series of practical actions to protect this native bird.

Learn more about the Black-throated finch Management Plan.