Forty-spotted Pardalote Pardalotus quadragintus


Justification of Red List Category
This species is classified as Endangered because it has a very small range, a restricted number of locations and is undergoing continuing declines as a result of several threats including wildfire, residential development, competition and parasitism.

Population justification
The population estimate is based on an area of functional habitat (Maria Island 20.3 km2, Bruny Island and nearby mainland 17.9 km2, Flinders Island 3.3 km2; Webb et al. 2019), an average density of 50% white gum within its area of occupancy, mean occupancy estimates for Maria (0.75), Bruny (0.77) and Flinders (0.06) islands (Webb et al. 2019), and a territory size of 1.6 ha (Woinarski and Bulman 1985), giving 1,820 mature individuals (Maria Island 950, Bruny Island and nearby mainland 860, Flinders Island 13). The minimum uses 40% white gum and the minimum site occupancy. The maximum is based on an estimate of 2.7 birds/ha based on 167 detections over three spring surveys (Alves et al. 2019). The species has long been uncommon or rare (Woinarski and Bulman 1985).

Trend justification
The species has declined from an estimated 3,520 individuals in 1986 (Brown 1986, 1989) and 3,840 individuals in 1994–1997 (Bryant 1997) to 1486 birds in 2009 with the largest population on Maria Island (600–900 individuals; Bryant 2010). The main evidence of decline in the last decade is the disappearance from some areas on mainland Tasmania and scarcity on Flinders Island. Viable breeding subpopulations appear to have gone from locations at Taroona, Lime Bay State Reserve, Peter Murrell Reserve, Conningham Peninsula and Flinders Island (Bryant 2010, Bryant & Webb 2014).

Distribution and population

Forty-spotted Pardalotes now occur in three parts of Tasmania, Australia: on Bruny Island (including Partridge and Snake Islands) and nearby parts of mainland Tasmania including Tinderbox and Conningham Peninsulas and at Ida Bay; on Maria Island; and in the Strzelecki Range of Flinders Island (Bryant 2018). Viable breeding subpopulations appear to have gone from locations at Taroona, Lime Bay State Reserve, Peter Murrell Reserve, Conningham Peninsula and Flinders Island (Bryant 2010; Bryant and Webb 2014; S Bryant, GB Baker unpublished). Historically it is thought to have been widely distributed in lowland forests of White Gum Eucalyptus viminalis in eastern Tasmania and also on King Island (Campbell 1903, Bryant 2018).


Forty-spotted Pardalotes occur mostly in forest or woodland containing white gum Eucalyptus viminalis from which they obtain invertebrates, lerp secretions and manna (Woinarski and Bulman 1985). They use hollows in white gums and other trees for nesting (Woinarski and Rounsevell 1983, Brown 1986), in which they lay four eggs (Higgins & Peter 2002). 


The principal threat is wildfire; over 80% of habitat is at high risk of fire with only 17% having burnt since 1969, most of that being in one fire on Flinders Island; the fire history of the adjacent mainland is indicative of the vulnerability of the habitat to fire on hot, windy days during drought (Webb et al. 2019). Much of the area occupied historically has been cleared for urban or agricultural purposes but, although up to 40 ha of habitat on private land can now be cleared without permit (FPA 2020), <2% of habitat has been cleared since 1996 (Webb et al. 2019). Human activity, noise and other habitat disturbances may be contributing to declines in urban and public use areas (Threatened Species Section 2006; Bryant 2010). Noisy Miners Manorina melanocephala and introduced Laughing Kookaburra Dacelo novaeguineae are potential competitors or predators across the range of the pardalote (Threatened Species Section 2006, Bryant 2010), although Noisy Miners no longer co-occur with pardalotes (Webb et al. 2019). Similarly, Striated Pardalotes P. striatus may have a competitive advantage in altered habitat (Edworthy 2016a). Larvae from an endemic parasitic fly, Passeromyia longicornis, are the principal cause of nestling mortality in Forty-spotted Pardalotes in areas of high prevalence, killing up to 81% of all nestlings (Edworthy et al. 2019, Alves et al. 2020). The overall potential threat this poses is high, given that fly-development is temperature-dependent (Edworthy 2016b) and increasing winter temperatures can increase the likelihood of a nest being parasitised (F. Alves unpublished, in Bryant et al. 2021). On Bruny Island, extended periods of low rainfall have killed many white gum seedlings planted to assist the pardalote, although several stands are now providing food (Bryant et al. 2021). Drought frequency and severity are expected to increase (Evans et al. 2017).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
Over three-quarters of the remaining habitat is under public or private conservation tenure. Listed as threatened under relevant conservation legislation. Methods to control fly larvae parasites developed and tested. Nest boxes provided at some breeding sites. Substantial areas planted with white gums. Hill on north Bruny Island has been acquired and declared a state reserve for the species with an approved management plan. Key sites have also been acquired on Flinders Island. Guidelines have been established for production forestry within 5 km of the coast between Bicheno and Southport and for the Maria Island National Park Management Plan. Further E. viminalis clearance in or near existing colonies is restricted. A community network has been established on Bruny Island promoting species conservation through festivals and events. Kingborough Council actively review land clearance and development applications in or near known colonies. Successive recovery plans has have been implemented and an active national recovery team is in place. NRM South have ongoing programs with landholders on Bruny Island to protect and regenerate E. viminalis and stimulated management through small grants program. New research is leading to good conservation outcomes (Edworthy 2015, 2016, unpublished PhD) and stimulating ongoing work. Maria Island hazard reduction fire plan identifies the pardalote as a key conservation asset. About 300 nest boxes had been added by 2016. 

Conservation Actions Proposed
Quantify threats and factors limiting the expansion of subpopulations and colonisation of the potential habitat. Understand the genetic population structure to inform translocation trials. Increase the size of the population and the area of occupancy through translocation to areas of suitable habitat. Map and assess habitat quality in unoccupied areas to determine potential reintroduction sites. Ensure monitoring of all populations at key sites at three-year interval is undertaken and expand surveys into areas of potential habitat, especially at Southport, Oyster Cove and Mt Communication. Map E. viminalis communities in greater detail and ensure legal protection of existing colonies and protection of primary forest. Determine relationship between site variables and food productivity. Determine juvenile dispersal, home range and colony dynamics. Protect existing and re-establish E. viminalis at sites within 5 km of the coast between Bicheno and Southport, particularly near existing colonies. Manage existing stands by limiting grazing and firewood-collection and managing fuel levels with a mosaic of low-intensity burns. Develop a management strategy for E. viminalis forest in response to climate change and target replanting in wetter areas. Ensure habitat regrowth (on Bruny Island) is encouraged. Support and expand research onto ecology and primary threats with applied conservation outcomes. Identify environmental factors influencing parasite abundance and determine whether high parasite-induced mortality is a cause or consequence of population decline. Monitor extent of parasitic fly infestation and mortality, with possible fumigation of nests. Apply newly tested methods for controlling fly parasitess. Determine the extent of competitive exclusion by other Striated Pardalotes in resource depleted habitats. Protect and manage known subpopulations, including improving and linking habitat to improve connectivity. Maintain community awareness of the species and involvement in recovery actions through community networks and local councils. Initiate Noisy Miner and Kookaburra reduction on islands and support Bruny Island cat management program. Seek funding to support recovery actions.


9-10 cm. Greenish pardalote with spotted wings. Sexes, adults and juveniles similar. Olive-green upperparts, finely scalloped darker, greyish-white below. Yellow wash around face and undertail-coverts. Black wings and tail with prominent white spots on tips of feathers. Similar spp. Juvenile Spotted Pardalote P. punctatus is more boldly patterned above, with greyish ear-coverts, buff-white spots on crown and orange-brown rump. Calls differ. Voice Inadequately known. Double-noted, territorial piping, second note marginally lower-pitched than first (P. punctatus has second note appreciably lower).


Text account compilers
Symes, A., Taylor, J., Vine, J., Benstead, P., Allinson, T, Dutson, G., McClellan, R., Garnett, S., Pilgrim, J.

Bryant, S., Edworthy, A. & Heinsohn, R.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Pardalotus quadragintus. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 07/10/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 07/10/2022.