Biodiversity

Species Profile and Threats Database


For information to assist proponents in referral, environmental assessments and compliance issues, refer to the Policy Statements and Guidelines (where available), the Conservation Advice (where available) or the Listing Advice (where available).
 
In addition, proponents and land managers should refer to the Recovery Plan (where available) or the Conservation Advice (where available) for recovery, mitigation and conservation information.

EPBC Act Listing Status Listed as Vulnerable
Listed marine
This taxon may be listed under the EPBC Act at the species level, see Anous tenuirostris [826].
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan required, this species had a recovery plan in force at the time the legislation provided for the Minister to decide whether or not to have a recovery plan (19/2/2007).
 
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans National Recovery Plan for Ten Species of Seabirds 2005-2010 (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2005f) [Recovery Plan].
 
Policy Statements and Guidelines Marine bioregional plan for the South-west Marine Region (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2012z) [Admin Guideline].
 
Survey Guidelines for Australia's Threatened Birds. EPBC Act survey guidelines 6.2 (Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), 2010l) [Admin Guideline].
 
Federal Register of
    Legislative Instruments
Declaration under s178, s181, and s183 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 - List of threatened species, List of threatened ecological communities and List of threatening processes (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000) [Legislative Instrument].
 
State Listing Status
WA: Listed as Endangered (Wildlife Conservation Act 1950 (Western Australia): September 2013 list)
Non-statutory Listing Status
NGO: Listed as Endangered (The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2010)
Scientific name Anous tenuirostris melanops [26000]
Family Laridae:Charadriiformes:Aves:Chordata:Animalia
Species author  
Infraspecies author (Gould, 1845)
Reference  
Distribution map Species Distribution Map

This is an indicative distribution map of the present distribution of the species based on best available knowledge. See map caveat for more information.

Illustrations Google Images

Scientific name: Anous tenuirostris melanops.

Common name: Australian Lesser Noddy.

The Australian Lesser Noddy is sometimes considered to be the same species as the Black Noddy A. minutus (Cramp 1985; Harrison 1983).

The Australian Lesser Noddy is a small Noddy, with a wingspan of about 60 cm. They have a pale grey crown that shades evenly between the bill and the eyes, and down the neck. There is often a black area immediately around the eye (Pizzey & Knight 1999).

The Australian Lesser Noddy is gregarious. Large flocks occur in the breeding season, and smaller flocks at other times (Higgins & Davies 1996).

The Australian Lesser Noddy is usually found only around its breeding islands in the Houtman Abrolhos Islands in Western Australia (Storr et al. 1986), but it is also commonly found dead after winter storms along the southwest coast between Yanchep and Dunsborough (Storr & Johnstone 1988). After gales in June 1948, thousands of Lesser Noddies were seen near Dunsborough, and around a month later, a flock of around a hundred was seen at Busselton during a gale (Serventy et al. 1971). There are also some records north of the breeding islands, for example at the Wallabi Group of islands, in the northern Houtman Abrolhos Islands, on Barrow Island, and at Webb Island (Higgins & Davies 1996).

On the Houtman Abrolhos Islands, the total population of the Australian Lesser Noddy has been estimated to be 48 885 to 79 550 pairs (Higgins & Davies 1996).

The numbers of Australian Lesser Noddies at the three monitored breeding colonies fluctuate between years, sometimes by an order of magnitude or more (Burbidge et al. 1996; Fuller & Burbidge 1981).

Morley Island. Breeding was first recorded in 1940 to 1941, and there were around 1000 nesting birds (Serventy 1943). None were recorded in December 1945 (Storr et al. 1986). The colony was re-established by 1970 (Green 1972). In August 1977 and again in October 1981, 3000 to 5000 breeding birds were recorded (Storr et al. 1986; Johnstone 1992). In December 1989, 16 375 nests were recorded, and in December 1991, there were 11 745 nests on the island (Johnstone 1992). The most recent estimate (in 1993) was 7665 pairs (Fuller et al. 1994).

Wooded Island. The number of Australian Lesser Noddies was first estimated to be hundreds of thousands of nesting birds (Gibson 1908), although this said to be a gross overestimate (Johnstone & Coate 1992; Storr et al. 1986). In 1940 to 1941, the population was estimated at 5000 breeding birds. In 1941 to 1942, it was estimated to be 10 000 breeding birds (Serventy 1943). In August 1977, there were 10 000 to 15 000 breeding birds, and in October 1981, there were 6000-10 000 breeding Noddies on the island (Johnstone & Coate 1992; Storr et al. 1986).The most recent estimate (in 1993) was 6325 pairs (Fuller et al. 1994).

Pelsaert Island. Australian Lesser Noddies were first recorded as nesting in two large colonies in 1840, and were still recorded nesting in 1899, but the colonies were abandoned between at least 1907 and 1913 (Fuller & Burbidge 1981). The colonies were re-established and flourishing by 1936 (Sandland 1937). In 1940 to 1941, two colonies of 1000 and 5000 birds were recorded (Serventy 1943). Since 1940, 41 extra colonies of Australian Lesser Noddies have been established. In 1982, the population could be divided into ten colonies, but since around 1984, some colonies have been abandoned (Burbidge & Fuller 1989; Fuller & Burbidge 1992).The most recent estimate (in 1993) was 34 895 pairs (Fuller et al. 1994).

The Australian Lesser Noddy usually occupies coral-limestone islands that are densely fringed with White Mangrove Avicennia marina. It occasionally occurs on shingle or sandy beaches (Higgins & Davies 1996).

The Australian Lesser Noddy roosts mainly in mangroves, especially at night (Fuller & Burbidge 1992; Serventy 1943; Storr et al. 1986), but may sometimes rest on a beach (Storr et al. 1986). Immature Australian Lesser Noddies have been observed roosting in large flocks on the beach near nesting areas during the day, and then moving back to the mangroves in the afternoon (Serventy et al. 1971).

The Australian Lesser Noddy builds nests in mangroves in horizontal or vertical forks, or in the elbow of a tree (Higgins & Davies 1996). On the Houtman Abrolhos Islands, the species breeds in dense clumps of mangroves up to 4 m tall (Johnstone & Coate 1992). On Ashmore Reef, it is thought to nest in low bushes of Sesbania Pea Sesbania cannibina (Stokes & Hinchey 1990).

The Australian Lesser Noddy breeds on the Houtman Abrolhos Islands group in Western Australia, apparently only on Morley, Wooded and Pelsaert Islands (Higgins & Davies 1996). It may also breed on Ashmore Reef (Stokes & Hinchey 1990). It builds a nest consisting of a bulky platform of seaweed. Breeding takes place in colonies, with nests densely packed together (Higgins & Davies 1996). For example on Pelsaert Island in 1986, the density of nests was as high as 215 per 100 m² (Burbidge & Fuller 1989).


The species' nest sites can be vulnerable to storm damage, because storms cause the loss of many eggs from more exposed nests. Australian Lesser Noddies laying earlier in the breeding season tend to use more sheltered sites, and thus have higher success than those laying later and in more exposed areas. Hatching success is better in leeward than in windward nesting sites (74% in leeward sites and around 52% in windward sites). Hatching success is better (75%) early in the season (the 27th of August to the 13th of September) than later (52-57% up to the 6th of December). Fledging success is also better early in the breeding season (93%) than later (73-74%), but does not differ significantly between sites (Surman & Wooller 1995).


The Australian Lesser Noddy lays a single egg (Higgins & Davies 1996; Garnett & Crowley 2000). Tarr (1949) stated that it nests twice per year, but there is no evidence to support this, although some pairs can lay replacement eggs after loss during storms (Surman & Wooller 1995). The breeding season is protracted, extending from mid August to early April, but it can vary from year to year (Higgins & Davies 1996). On Pelsaert Island in 1991 to 1992, the laying period of the population extended from late August to early December, with a peak in September, and the first eggs hatched on the 30th of September (Surman & Wooller 1995). Fledged young first go to sea between late January and early April (Storr et al. 1986).

The Australian Lesser Noddy feeds on small fish; small Australian Herrings Arripis georgianus, Beaked Salmon Gonorhynchus greyi, Goatfish Parupeneus signatus, Blue Sprat Spratelloides robustus, Hardyheads Atherinidae and Pilchards Sardinops neopilchardus (Johnstone & Storr 1998; Serventy et al. 1971; Storr et al. 1986).

The Australian Lesser Noddy feeds by taking items from or just below the water surface, without alighting (Serventy et al. 1971). It may forage well out to sea (Johnstone & Storr 1998; Storr et al. 1986) or in seas close to breeding islands, including outside fringing reefs (Storr et al. 1986; Whittell 1942).

The Australian Lesser Noddy is thought to be sedentary, mainly sedentary or resident. It tends to stay near to its breeding islands in the non-breeding season. However, some movements do occur. It may leave its nesting islands for short periods during the non-breeding season, and probably forages widely (Higgins & Davies 1996).

Guano mining during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries coincided with the disappearance of the Australian Lesser Noddy from Pelsaert Island (Fuller & Burbidge 1981). Currently, the main potential threats to breeding colonies are catastrophic destruction by cyclones, or pollution from oil spills that could damage the birds and mangroves (Burbidge & Fuller 1991).

The Australian Lesser Noddy has an extremely limited breeding range, thus sea level rises associated with global warming could have a detrimental effect on the mangroves required for breeding. Its food supplies could also be affected by commercial fishing (Burbidge et al. 1996; A.A. Burbidge, as cited in Garnett & Crowley 2000).

Marine bioregional plans have been developed for four of Australia's marine regions - South-west, North-west, North and Temperate East. Marine Bioregional Plans will help improve the way decisions are made under the EPBC Act, particularly in relation to the protection of marine biodiversity and the sustainable use of our oceans and their resources by our marine-based industries. Marine Bioregional Plans improve our understanding of Australia's oceans by presenting a consolidated picture of the biophysical characteristics and diversity of marine life. They describe the marine environment and conservation values of each marine region, set out broad biodiversity objectives, identify regional priorities and outline strategies and actions to address these priorities. Click here for more information about marine bioregional plans.

The Australian Lesser Noddy has been identified as a conservation value in the South-west Marine Region. See Schedule 2 of the South-west Marine Bioregional Plan (DSEWPaC 2012z) for regional advice. Maps of Biologically Important Areas have been developed for Australian lesser noddy in the South-west Marine Region and may provide additional relevant information. Go to the conservation values atlas to view the location of these Biologically Important Areas. The "species group report card - seabirds" for the South-west Marine Region provides additional information.

The Action Plan for Australian Birds provides a guide to threat abatement and management strategies for the Australian Lesser Noddy (Garnett & Crowley 2000).

The following table lists known and perceived threats to this species. Threats are based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) threat classification version 1.1.

Threat Class Threatening Species References
Agriculture and Aquaculture:Livestock Farming and Grazing:Habitat loss and modification due to clearance of native vegetation and pasture improvements Species threats data recorded on the SPRAT database between 1999-2002 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2012i) [Database].
Biological Resource Use:Fishing and Harvesting Aquatic Resources:Commercial harvest Inundation study (Environmental Resources Information Network, 2007) [Database].
Biological Resource Use:Fishing and Harvesting Aquatic Resources:Overfishing, competition with fishing operations and overfishing of prey fishing The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2000 (Garnett, S.T. & G.M. Crowley, 2000) [Cwlth Action Plan].
Climate Change and Severe Weather:Habitat Shifting and Alteration:Global warming and associated sea level changes Inundation study (Environmental Resources Information Network, 2007) [Database].
Climate Change and Severe Weather:Sea level rise:Inundation associated with climate change Inundation study (Environmental Resources Information Network, 2007) [Database].
Climate Change and Severe Weather:Storms and Flooding:Natural events such as storms and cyclones leading to habitat destruction and flora/fauna mortality Inundation study (Environmental Resources Information Network, 2007) [Database].
Ecosystem/Community Stresses:Indirect Ecosystem Effects:Restricted geographical distribution (area of occupancy and extent of occurrence) Inundation study (Environmental Resources Information Network, 2007) [Database].
Energy Production and Mining:Mining and Quarrying:Habitat modification through open cut mining/quarrying activities The birds of Pelsart Island, Western Australia. WA Dept of Fisheries & Wildlife Report. 44. (Fuller, P.J. & A.A. Burbidge, 1981) [Report].
Pollution:Pollution:spillage A million seabirds. Landscope. 6:17-23. (Burbidge, A.A. & P.J. Fuller, 1991) [Journal].
Inundation study (Environmental Resources Information Network, 2007) [Database].
Species Stresses:Indirect Species Effects:Low numbers of individuals A million seabirds. Landscope. 6:17-23. (Burbidge, A.A. & P.J. Fuller, 1991) [Journal].
Inundation study (Environmental Resources Information Network, 2007) [Database].
The breeding biology of the Lesser Noddy on Pelsaert Island, Western Australia. Emu. 95:47-53. (Surman, C.A. & R.D. Wooller, 1995) [Journal].

Burbidge, A.A. & P.J. Fuller (1989). Numbers of breeding seabirds on Plesaert Island, Houtman Abrolhos, Western Australia. Corella. 13:57-61.

Burbidge, A.A. & P.J. Fuller (1991). A million seabirds. Landscope. 6:17-23.

Burbidge, A.A., R.E. Johnstone & P.J. Fuller (1996). The status of seabirds in Western Australia. In: Ross, G.J.B., K. Weaver & J.C. Greig, eds. The Status of Australia's Seabirds: Proceedings of the National Seabird Workshop, Canberra, 1-2 November 1993. Page(s) 57-71. Canberra: Biodiversity Group, Environment Australia.

Cramp, S. (1985). Handbook of the Birds of Europe, the Middle East and North Africa: The Birds of the Western Palearctic. Volume 4. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH) (2005f). National Recovery Plan for Ten Species of Seabirds 2005-2010. [Online]. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/seabirds.html.

Fuller, P.J. & A.A. Burbidge (1981). The birds of Pelsart Island, Western Australia. WA Dept of Fisheries & Wildlife Report. 44. WA Dept of Fisheries & Wildlife.

Fuller, P.J. & A.A. Burbidge (1992). Seabird islands: Pelsaert Island, Houtman Abrolhos, Western Australia. Corella. 16:47-58.

Fuller, P.J., A.A. Burbidge & R. Owens (1994). Breeding seabirds of the Houtman Abrolhos, Western Australia: 1991-1993. Corella. 18:97-113.

Garnett, S.T. & G.M. Crowley (2000). The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2000. [Online]. Canberra, ACT: Environment Australia and Birds Australia. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/action/birds2000/index.html.

Gibson, C.G. (1908). Notes on some birds of the Abrolhos Islands, WA. Emu. 8:64-66.

Green, G.A. (1972). Fifth Abrolhos Expedition, 1970. Aquinas College, Manning, WA.

Harrison, P (1983). Seabirds: An Identification Guide. London: Croom Helm.

Higgins, P.J. & S.J.J.F. Davies, eds (1996). Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds. Volume Three - Snipe to Pigeons. Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press.

Johnstone, R.E. (1992). Seabird islands: Morley Island, Easter Group, Houtman Abrolhos, Western Australia. Corella. 16:160-162.

Johnstone, R.E. & G.M. Storr (1998). Handbook of Western Australian Birds. Vol. 1: Non-passerines (Emu to Dollarbird). Perth, Western Australia: West Australian Museum.

Johnstone, R.E. & K. Coate (1992). Seabird islands: Wooded Island, Easter Group, Houtman Abrolhos, Western Australia. Corella. 16:155-159.

Magrath, M.J.L., M.A. Weston, P. Olsen & M. Antos (2004). Draft Survey Standards for Birds: Species Accounts. Melbourne, Victoria: Report for the Department of the Environment and Heritage by Birds Australia.

Pizzey, G. & F. Knight (1999). The Graham Pizzey and Frank Knight Field Guide to the Birds of Australia. Pymble, Sydney: Angus and Robertson.

Sandland, P.T. (1937). Notes on birds on Pelsart Island. Emu. 37:144-149.

Serventy, D.L., V.N. Serventy & J. Warham (1971). The Handbook of Australian Seabirds. Sydney, NSW: A.H. & A.W. Reed.

Serventy, V.N. (1943). Notes on nesting birds of the Abrolhos Islands. Emu. 42:235-241.

Stokes, T. & M. Hinchey (1990). Which small Noddies breed at Ashmore Reef in Eastern Indian Ocean?. Emu. 90:269-271.

Storr, G.M. & R.E. Johnstone (1988). Birds of the Swan Coastal Plain and adjacent seas and islands. Records of the Western Australian Museum Supplement. Suppl. 28:1-76. Perth: Western Australian Museum.

Storr, G.M., R.E. Johnstone & P. Griffin (1986). Birds of the Houtman Abrolhos, Western Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum Supplement. 24.

Surman, C.A. & R.D. Wooller (1995). The breeding biology of the Lesser Noddy on Pelsaert Island, Western Australia. Emu. 95:47-53.

Tarr, H.E. (1949). Notes on the birds of Long Island, Abrolhos Group, Western Australia. Emu. 48:276-282.

Whittell, H.M. (1942). A review of the work of John Gilbert in Western Australia. Emu. 41:289-305.

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This database is designed to provide statutory, biological and ecological information on species and ecological communities, migratory species, marine species, and species and species products subject to international trade and commercial use protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). It has been compiled from a range of sources including listing advice, recovery plans, published literature and individual experts. While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, no guarantee is given, nor responsibility taken, by the Commonwealth for its accuracy, currency or completeness. The Commonwealth does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage that may be occasioned directly or indirectly through the use of, or reliance on, the information contained in this database. The information contained in this database does not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth. This database is not intended to be a complete source of information on the matters it deals with. Individuals and organisations should consider all the available information, including that available from other sources, in deciding whether there is a need to make a referral or apply for a permit or exemption under the EPBC Act.

Citation: Department of the Environment (2014). Anous tenuirostris melanops in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Sun, 24 Aug 2014 00:46:39 +1000.