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*CSIRO Division of Wildlife and Ecology, P.O. Box 84, Lyneham, ACT, Australia 2602.

Defined here as the mulga, mallee, poplar box and riverine woodlands west of the influence of the Great Dividing Range, western New South Wales holds a water and land bird fauna of 72 and 188 species respectively. Almost half of Australia’s breeding land and freshwater birds occur there, including all species of babblers (Pomatostomidae) and woodswallows (Artamidae). Biogeographically, the prevailing character of the fauna is Eyrean, with an admixture of Bassian elements in the east and Torresian elements in the north. Many western Australian and mallee elements range as far east as western New South Wales (e.g., Regent Parrot, Ringneck, Gilbert’s Whistler and Yellow-plumed Honeyeater); and some intergrade with eastern Bassian forms there (e.g., Varied Sittella and Spotted Pardalote).

A serious impediment to our knowledge of the regional bird fauna is that it is still so poorly explored and documented. Two of the last three species of Australian birds to be discovered, all within the last 30 years, are present in western New South Wales; and an isolated population of Red-lored Whistlers, a nationally endangered species, was not found in the Griffith-Nymagee mallee belt until the early 1960s. Before the future of the avifauna of western New South Wales can be predicted or planned — or even the effects of environmental change and degradation assessed — a thorough survey is urgently needed to determine: (1) what bird species and subspecies occur there, (2) where they occur and in what habitats, and (3) how, in comparisons with meagre historical records, their status has altered since settlement.

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