Habitat and Distribution
The forty-spotted pardalote is endemic to Tasmania and intrinsically linked to one type of eucalypt, white gum Eucalyptus viminalis. The population is naturally restricted to dry grassy forest and woodland along the east coast of Tasmania, occurring on headlands, peninsulas and nearby islands. Main breeding areas are Flinders Island, Maria Island, Bruny Island, Howden and Tinderbox Peninsula with small colonies also on the Taroona Hills and at Coningham. A colony also existed at Lime Bay on the Tasman Peninsula but this has not been sighted since the late 1980s. Forty-spotted pardalotes feed among eucalypt foliage on small insects and manna (a sugary substance produced on branches and twigs). Over time colonies form around the white gum and pairs become sedentary and territorial. Forty-spotted pardalotes can be identified in the same territory at any time of the year. Pairs construct a bark nest in tree hollows or cavities in branches, tree trunks, dead stumps, fence posts or other fallen wood. The breeding season starts around September and four to five chicks are raised each year. Pairs are strongly territorial around the nest site.
The forty-spotted pardalote inhabits lowland dry sclerophyll forests and woodlands that support a significant component of white gum (Eucalyptus viminalis) in the tree canopy layer. The species forages predominantly in white gum, which appears to be pivotal to the survival of individuals and breeding colonies. The loss, fragmentation and degradation of suitable habitat have probably caused the decline in populations. Grassy white gum forest in south-east Tasmania has been reduced by greater than 50% since European settlement and major clearing occurring along the coastal plains. Degradation of habitat on private land continues due to adverse fire frequencies and intensity, dieback and stock grazing. Invasion of habitat by aggressive and opportunistic species such as the noisy miner has followed in the wake of opening canopy cover and continuing fragmentation of dry sclerophyll forest.
Reference: Bryant, S. L. and Jackson, J. (1999). Tasmania’s Threatened Fauna Handbook: what, where and how to protect Tasmania’s threatened animals. Threatened Species Unit, Parks and Wildlife Service, Hobart.
Threatened Species Section (2006). Fauna Recovery Plan: Forty-Spotted Pardalote 2006-2010. Department of Primary Industries and Water, Hobart.