email a friend
printable version
Location Australia, New South Wales (and ACT)
Central coordinates 149o 17.80' East  30o 45.59' South
IBA criteria A1
Area 490,908 ha
Altitude 20 - 1,200m
Year of IBA assessment 2009

BirdLife Australia

Summary This large block of woodland supports strong populations of the vulnerable Painted Honeyeater and near threatened Diamond Firetail, irregular numbers of the endangered Swift Parrot and Regent Honeyeater and the near-threatened Bush Thick-knee, and good numbers of other declining woodland birds.

Site description This IBA is defined as the conservation areas of the the Pilliga woodlands and scrub between the towns of Pilliga, Baradine, Coonabarabran and Narrabri in inland NSW. The IBA takes in the the Community Conservation Areas zones 1-4 (i.e. including Conservation Areas and much of the State Forests), all conservation areas managed by NSW NPWS and two private blocks, and includes the nearby Warrumbungle NP. Additional contiguous woodland on private land may be worthy of inclusion within the IBA but there is insufficient supporting bird survey data. The nearby Brigalow Belt Nature Reserve, which supports Painted Honeyeaters, is also included, however other suitable habitta around Narrabri, including network of smaller remnants surrounding Narrabri (including Yarrie Lake, Killarney, Bobbiwaa and Moema State Forests) need further survey work before inclusion. The whole Pilliga is important for woodland birds including Diamond Firetail and Painted Honeyeater, mainly along creeks, and the Bush Thick-knee along forest edges, and includes the Baradine/Yearinan Creek in central Pilliga (Regent Honeyeater), the eastern Pilliga (Swift Parrot), a large area of southern Namoi River catchment and Castlereagh River catchment. The area has a warm-temperate climate and is dominated by Ironbark, Red Gum, Callitris and Box woodlands and forests with areas of scrub and heath, and is the largest tract of dry sclerophyll forest in NSW. Much of the areas has been logged and logging continues in some areas with high densities of White Cypress Pine Callitris glaucophylla and Narrow-leaved Ironbark Eucalyptus crebra but the Pilliga Nature Reserve has been unlogged since 1931. Some fuel-reduction fires are undertaken in the eastern Pilliga, and fuel-reduction grazing in the western Pilliga, but the whole area suffers from wild-fires.

Key Biodiversity There are irregular records of the Endangered Swift Parrot, e.g. on Barkala in 2002 (B. Williams), and Warrumbungle NP in 2005 (H. Stevens). Regent Honeyeater has declined over the last ten years (D. Geering, pers. comm.) and must be considered an occasional breeding visitor at present. No known Malleefowl mounds in the IBA since 1991 but two immatures seen in 2001 (J. Squire). The near threatened Bush Stone-curlew only occasionally seen in the IBA, status uncertain (one record in Atlas of Australian Birds surveys from 1998 to 2008). Australasian Bittern has been recorded (D. Paull in litt. 2007). The woodlands support the largest population of Barking Owls and other declining woodland species in NSW. One hundred and seventy bird species were recorded in the IBA during surveys in 1991-1993 (Date et al. 2002) and in 1999-2000 (NSW NPWS 2000) and over 200 bird species recorded for the Pilliga (D. Johnston pers. comm.). A total of 125 bird species recorded from Barkala, including Glossy Black-Cockatoo, Grey-crowned Babbler, Speckled Warbler, Brown Treecreeper, Hooded Robin and Turquoise Parrot as common residents. Single sightings of the biome-restricted Black Honeyeater and the near threatened Flame Robin reported in the Atlas of Australian Birds surveys from 1998 to 2008 (Atlas of Australian Birds database).

Non-bird biodiversity: At least 36 native mammal species (including 16 bat species), 9 introduced mammal species, 50 reptile species and at least 15 amphibian species have been recorded in the Nature Reserve, including at least 21 species listed as threatened in NSW, including the Pilliga Mouse.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Painted Honeyeater Grantiella picta resident  1991-1997  uncommon  A1  Vulnerable 
Diamond Firetail Stagonopleura guttata resident  1991-2008  frequent  A1  Least Concern 

IBA Monitoring

2013 high not assessed not assessed

Agriculture and aquaculture livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - agro-industry grazing, ranching or farmin happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration high
Energy production and mining oil and gas drilling likely in short term (within 4 years) some of area/population (10-49%) very rapid to severe deterioration high
Natural system modifications fire & fire suppression - increase in fire frequency/intensity happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration high

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Brigalow Park Nature Reserve 202 protected area contained by site 202  
Merriwindi CCA Zone 3 State Conservation Area 1,714 protected area contained by site 1,714  
Pilliga Nature Reserve 83,726 protected area contained by site 83,726  
Pilliga CCA Zone 1 National Park 10,603 protected area contained by site 10,603  
Pilliga CCA Zone 3 State Conservation Area 33,278 protected area contained by site 33,278  
Pilliga East CCA Zone 3 State Conservation Area 24,626 protected area contained by site 24,626  
Pilliga West CCA Zone 1 National Park 7,893 protected area contained by site 7,893  
Pilliga West CCA Zone 3 State Conservation Area 34,169 protected area contained by site 34,169  
Timallallie CCA Zone 1 National Park 39,287 protected area contained by site 39,287  
Warrumbungle National Park 23,575 protected area contained by site 23,198  
Yarragin CCA Zone 1 National Park 3,123 protected area contained by site 3,123  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest Eucalypt low open forests; Eucalypt woodlands  major
Rocky areas Scree & boulders  minor
Shrubland Heath; Mallee shrublands & woodlands  minor

Land ownership NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change, Forests NSW, R. & M. Rickert (Barkala), R. & I. Hawley "Blue Valley".

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
forestry major
nature conservation and research major
rangeland/pastureland minor
Notes: 1200 acres on "Barkala"

Protection status Numerous - see separate section.

Access/Land-Owner requests All private land owners and managers require prior notification for access.

Acknowledgements Alan Morris, David Geering (DECC), Elizabeth Date, Stephen Naven (NPWS) and Carl Gosper contributed information. David Johnston (Pilliga Bird Watchers Group), Helen Stevens and Michael Murphy (DECC) have been monitoring birds. Owners of "Barkala" and "Blue Valley" have kindly granted access.

References Atlas of New South Wales Wildlife (2007) Species list for Pilliga Nature Reserve. Downloaded from on 1 October 2007.

Date, E.M., Ford, H.A. and Recher, H.F. (2002) Impacts of logging, fire and grazing regimes on bird species assemblages of the Pilliga woodlands of New South Wales. Pacific Conservation Biology 8: 177-195.

Cooney, S.J.N. and Watson, D.M. (2005) Diamond Firetails preferentially nest in Mistletoe. Emu 105: 317-322.

NSW NPWS (2000) Preliminary fauna survey (Stage 1). NSW Western Regional Assessments. RACAC.

NSW NPWS (2002) Vertebrate fauna survey, analysis and modelling projects. NSW Western Regional Assessments, RACD, Sydney.

Traill, B.J. and Duncan, S. (2000) Status of birds in the New South Wales Temperate woodlands region. Consultancy report to the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service. Australian Woodlands Conservancy: Chiltern, Victoria.

Contribute  Please click here to help BirdLife conserve the world's birds - your data for this IBA and others are vital for helping protect the environment.

Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Pilliga. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife