ONE of the world's most threatened birds is making a comeback thanks to a "major" breeding event, ecologists say.
The plains wanderer is on the brink of extinction but appears to have made something of a rebound, a team including La Trobe University PhD student Dan Nugent has discovered.
"We detected 60 adults and 41 chicks," he said.
"This is more than double the previous best result in 2018 when 30 adults and 17 chicks were detected," Mr Nugent said.
Plains wanderers are small, quail-like birds that live in grasslands, including northern parts of central Victoria.
The bird is so critically endangered and taxonomically unique it is ranked the number one priority for conservation action among birds of the world by the Zoological Society of London.
Improved technology and survey methods probably played some role in this year's record, North Central Catchment Management Authority project manager Laura Chant said.
But the high numbers should also be attributed to other factors.
"The La Nina climate cycle facilitated a wide-spread and prolonged breeding event, which is likely to have boosted their numbers," Ms Chant said.
"Also, it's highly likely the habitat management and protection measures we, and several partner organisations, have taken over many years to protect this incredible bird are proving to be highly effective - including conservation covenants and strategic grazing of conservation reserves."
Conservationists still hold "significant" concerns for the plains wanderer from foxes and other pressures.
"In Victoria, habitat loss driven by conversion of native grasslands to croplands is a major threat," Mr Nugent said.
La Trobe does its surveys in partnership with the North Central CMA.
Their reports are submitted to the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.
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