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Location Australia, Western Australia
Central coordinates 115o 23.94' East  20o 47.27' South
IBA criteria A1, A3, A4i
Area 23,483 ha
Altitude 0 - 65m
Year of IBA assessment 2008

BirdLife Australia



Summary The 235 km² Barrow Island supports more than 1% of the global populations of Pied Oystercatcher, Grey-tailed Tattler, Red-necked Stint and Fairy Tern. It is also supports a significant and isolated population of the biome-restricted Spinifexbird, and is the only location for the vulnerable Barrow Island subspecies of White-winged Fairy-wren.

Site description The IBA consists of the whole 235 km² Barrow Island, as the whole island is listed as a Nature Reserve and threats from invasive species must be managed on a whole-island basis. Barrow is 60 km off the Pilbara coast of Western Australia. It is a limestone island with a hot, arid climate and a mean rainfall of about 320 mm pa. Most of the island is low and gently undulating, but on the west coast there are gullies, cliffs and sandy beaches. Hummock grassland dominates the landscape and provides habitat for Spinifexbirds and White-winged Fairy-wrens. Although shorebirds are concentrated in the south-east and south of Barrow Island, significant numbers are present around the entire island except for the 'Upper West' section (Bamford and Bamford 2005).

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Pied Oystercatcher Haematopus longirostris non-breeding  2003-2004  112-362 individuals  good  A4i  Least Concern 
Grey-tailed Tattler Heteroscelus brevipes non-breeding  2003-2004  429-2,634 individuals  good  A4i  Least Concern 
Red-necked Stint Calidris ruficollis non-breeding  2003-2004  822-7,611 individuals  good  A4i  Least Concern 
Fairy Tern Sterna nereis non-breeding  2003-2004  41-1,060 individuals  good  A1, A4i  Vulnerable 
Spinifexbird Eremiornis carteri resident  1978-2004  17,800-24,600 individuals  good  A3  Least Concern 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Barrow Island Nature Reserve 23,483 is identical to site 23,483  

Habitats

IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Coastline Sea cliffs, rocky shores & rocky islets  5%
Grassland Hummock grasslands  95%

Land ownership Barrow Island Nature Reserve is Class A Reserve 11648 for "Conservation of Flora and Fauna" vested in the Conservation Commission of Western Australia and managed by the Department of Environment and Conservation. A petroleum lease, owned by Chevron Australia, covers the whole island.

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
nature conservation and research 95%
urban/industrial/transport 5%

Other biodiversity Barrow Island has several mammal taxa listed as threatened and numerous endemic subterranean animals (troglobites and stygobites), some of which are listed as threatened. One endemic troglobitic snake species (the only troglobitic snake in the world) and one endemic skink subpecies also occur on the island. The beaches are regionally-significant rookeries for green turtles (west coast) and flatback turtles (east coast).

Protection status Barrow Island Nature Reserve.

Access/Land-Owner requests Access is limited because of Petroleum Production Lease.

Acknowledgements Thanks to Andrew Burbidge as compiler of the nomination and for comments received from Mike Bamford and Cheryl Gole.

References Bamford, M.J. and Bamford, A.R. (2005) Technical Report: Avifauna. Technical Appendix C3 in the draft EIS/ERMP for the proposed Gorgon development. http://www.gorgon.com.au/ 03-man_environment/EIS/Technical Appendix C3.

Driskell, A.C., Pruett-Jones, S., Tarvin, K.A. and Hagevik, S. (2002) Evolutionary relationships among blue-and black-plumaged popuklations of the white-winged fairy-wrens (Malurus leucopterus). Australian Journal of Zoology 50(6): 581-595.

Garnett, S.T. and Crowley, G. M. (2000) The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2000. Canberra: Environment Australia.

Sedgewick, E.H. (1978) A population study of the Barrow Island avifauna. Western Australian Naturalist 14: 85-108.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Barrow Island. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 24/04/2014

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