Critically endangered bird – down to just 14 in the wild – not helped by being ‘morons’ with poor survival instincts
Wednesday 23 November 2016 04.07 GMT
Scientists are scaling trees in Tasmania in an attempt to save the critically endangered orange-bellied parrot after the wild population dropped to the “stupidly low numbers” of just 14 individuals.
Three of those wild-born birds are females that have begun the process of selecting nest boxes in Melaleuca, a blustery outpost in the wilderness world heritage area near the southwest tip of Tasmania.
In a crowdfunded last-ditch conservation effort, members of the Difficult Bird Research Group, so called because the birds they focus on are difficult to keep alive, will make the 100km flight from Hobart once a week during the nesting season to try to boost the survival rate.
The plan includes smuggling eggs laid in captivity into wild nests, tracking the impact of predators such as sugar gliders which eat the young, and, if necessary, hand-feeding the nestlings of negligent parents.
“There’s one wild female that, poor bugger, just hasn’t had any success,” Australian National University researcher Dr Dejan Stojanovic told Guardian Australia.
“If she stops feeding the kids for any reason, we are likely going to be climbing the trees every three hours and feeding the kids for her to get them to the stage where they can fly and actually chase her for food.”
It is a desperate final attempt to save a species that has been critically endangered for decades.
Despite regularly producing birds for release, longstanding captive breeding programs have not been able to boost dwindling numbers.
As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.