Public help to save orange bellied parrot

Publication date
Tuesday, 22 Nov 2016

Researchers at ANU are calling for the public to help save the wild population of the orange bellied parrot before they go extinct.

This year only three females and 11 males survived the winter migration from Victoria to return to Melaleuca in Tasmania's southwest Wilderness World Heritage Area.

The researchers have set up a crowdfunding project for Australia's most endangered bird to pay for resources to trial new methods of boosting the number of wild-born birds. Birds have already started to lay eggs. 

Dr Dejan Stojanovic from the ANU Fenner School of Environment and Society said inaction could mean extinction for the iconic bird. Its numbers have been in decline for decades.

"With help from the public we will introduce an emergency intervention plan that will build on the work already being done to boost the birds in the wild," said Dr Stojanovic. 

"The funds will help get more people with the right skills on the ground to find orange bellied parrot nests and help if something goes wrong."

Professor Rob Heinsohn also from the Fenner School of Environment and Society said the project would use a small number of captive-bred birds to boost the number of birds in the wild.

"We need more people on the ground in Melaleuca to monitor the individual birds daily and learn everything there is to know about the wild population," said Professor Heinsohn.

"We hope researchers will be able to foster captive raised eggs and nestlings to boost productivity and will use sophisticated techniques to ensure that wild nestlings are as healthy and fit as possible and ready to make the difficult migration next winter."

Professor Heinsohn said scientists haven't given up hope on this species survival.

"There have been other situations in the world where parrot species have gone down to very low numbers like this and they have been turned around," said Professor Heinsohn.

"Past species success can be credited to managers who intervened and did all that was needed to help boost their breeding success in the wild."

Visit the Difficult bird research group website for more details. View a YouTube video on the orange bellied parrots or donate to the crowd funding effort.