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Location Australia, Queensland
Central coordinates 143o 25.24' East  15o 11.91' South
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3
Area 135,560 ha
Altitude 64 - 190m
Year of IBA assessment 2009

BirdLife Australia

Summary Morehead River supports a high proportion of the endangered Golden-shouldered Parrot, and possibly the endangered Buff-breasted Button-quail. It also supports significant populations of the near threatened Black-throated Finch and Bush Stone-curlew and an additional six species restricted to the Tropical Savanna Biome: Silver-crowned Friarbird, Yellow-tinted Honeyeater, Yellow Honeyeater, Banded Honeyeater, Bar-breasted Honeyeater and Masked Finch.

Site description The Morehead River IBA is located in the south-east of Cape York. The IBA is defined as the properties supporting high numbers of Golden-shouldered Parrots but also supports many other savanna species. The land is mostly pastoral lease used for extensive cattle grazing, with a monsoonal climate. Low hills are covered with open savanna woodland and drained by largely ephemeral streams. Conservation agreements cover or are being negotiated over parts of the area.

Key Biodiversity The savanna woodlands support a range of woodland species through the Melaleucas, particularly when in flower. In the wet season Azure Kingfisher occurs along streams with the narrow strips of riparian forest supporting a small suite of rainforest birds like Fairy Gerygone and Pied Imperial-Pigeon. Wet grasslands are used by Latham's Snipe during the northern migration and by the Brolga for nesting. Raptors like Black-breasted Buzzard nest in some years and Red Goshawk has been seen on two occasions.

Non-bird biodiversity: The area falls surprisingly short in other significant fauna, although the Rufous Hare-wallaby has been recorded and several Macropus species occur at low densities.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Buff-breasted Buttonquail Turnix olivii unknown  1993  max 5 individuals  poor  A1, A2, A3  Endangered 
Bush Thick-knee Burhinus grallarius resident  1998-2008  uncommon  A1  Least Concern 
Golden-shouldered Parrot Psephotellus chrysopterygius resident  2004  700-1,200 individuals  medium  A1, A2, A3  Endangered 
Yellow Honeyeater Lichenostomus flavus resident  1998-2008  abundant  A3  Least Concern 
White-gaped Honeyeater Lichenostomus unicolor unknown  1998-2008  uncommon  A3  Least Concern 
Yellow-tinted Honeyeater Lichenostomus flavescens unknown  1998-2008  uncommon  A3  Least Concern 
Silver-crowned Friarbird Philemon argenticeps resident  1998-2008  common  A3  Least Concern 
Bar-breasted Honeyeater Ramsayornis fasciatus unknown  1998-2008  uncommon  A3  Least Concern 
Banded Honeyeater Certhionyx pectoralis unknown  1998-2008  common  A3  Least Concern 
Masked Finch Poephila personata resident  1998-2003  common  A3  Least Concern 
Black-throated Finch Poephila cincta resident  1998-2008  common  A1  Least Concern 

IBA Monitoring

2008 high not assessed not assessed
Medium - based upon reliable but incomplete / partially representative data

Agriculture and aquaculture livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - agro-industry grazing, ranching or farmin happening now whole area/population (>90%) slow but significant deterioration high
Invasive & other problematic species, genes & diseases invasive non-native/alien species/diseases - unspecified species happening now some of area/population (10-49%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Natural system modifications fire & fire suppression - suppression in fire frequency/intensity happening now whole area/population (>90%) slow but significant deterioration high

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Artemis Antbed Parrot Nature Refuge Nature Reserve 2,116 protected area overlaps with site 2,116  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest Melaleuca forests & woodlands  20%
Savanna Tropical eucalypt woodlands & grasslands  75%
Grassland Tussock grasslands  5%

Land ownership Nature Refuge = Queensland State Government (QPWS); remainder leasehold property

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
rangeland/pastureland 100%
Notes: Site includes the 2116 ha Artemis Antbed Parrot Nature Refuge.

Access/Land-Owner requests Leaseholders as appropriate.

Acknowledgements Sue and Tom Shephard, leaseholders of Artemis Station. The nomination was prepared by Stephen Garnett.

References Crowley, G.M. and Garnett, S.T. (2000) Changing fire management in the pastoral lands of Cape York Peninsula of northeast Australia, 1623-1996. Australian Geographical Studies 38:10-26.

Crowley, G.M., Garnett, S.T. and Shephard, S. (2004) Management guidelines for golden-shouldered parrot conservation. Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, Brisbane.

Garnett, S.T. and Crowley, G.M. (1997) The Golden-shouldered Parrot of Cape York Peninsula: the importance of cups of tea to effective conservation. In. 'Conservation outside Nature Reserves'. Pp. 201-205. Edited by Hale, P. and Lamb, D., Uni.Qld

Garnett, S.T. and Crowley, G.M. (2003) Recovery Plan for the Golden-shouldered Parrot. Department of Environment and Heritage, Canberra.

Garnett, S.T. and Shephard, S. (1997) Cape York Peninsula, Australia, as a stopover site for Latham's Snipe Gallinago hardwickii. Stilt 30:54-55.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Morehead River. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016

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