An essential component of conservation science is repeated surveys over time to monitor species that might be responding to local factors, such as land management, or more broadly to global change. A systematic survey of the avifauna of Cape York Peninsula was conducted in the late 1990s and early 2000s providing an ideal basal dataset for measuring change in the avifauna. A subset (n>600) of these sites, primarily within savanna landscapes, was selected for re-survey in 2008 to investigate changes in bird communities on Cape York Peninsula. Changes in mean species richness varied across the study area (decreases in 59 grid cells and increases in 43) with no apparent pattern. Significant change in reporting rates was recorded in 30 species. Four sedentary and highly detectable species declined (Bar-shouldered Dove, Brown Treecreeper, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo and Pale-headed Rosella) and five increased (Peaceful Dove, Pheasant Coucal, Weebill, White-throated Honeyeater and Yellow Oriole). Habitat preference for the species that showed change remained relatively stable between the two survey periods. Some species that were recorded in very low numbers in the original survey and are considered to be threatened (Brown Treecreeper, Black-faced Woodswallow) remained in very low numbers or decreased in our survey suggesting that there has been no regional recovery of these species. Long-term monitoring can describe important patterns of species change over time, though in the case of large, highly seasonal environments like the tropical savannas, signals of change may manifest over decades rather than annually. � 2011 Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union.