Monitoring of the Orange-bellied Parrot breeding population at Melaleuca, TWWHA
On the brink of extinction, the Orange-bellied Parrot (OBP) has been ranked one of the world’s rarest and most endangered species, with fewer than 200 individuals remaining.
This small green ‘grass parrot’ with its distinctive orange belly is endemic to Southern Australia and is one of just two species of migratory parrots. It breeds only in suitable habitat in the far southwest coast of Tasmania, where they nest in eucalypts bordering button grass moors.
Volunteers from the Friends of the Orange-bellied Parrot Wildcare group make an annual journey to Melaleuca in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, to monitor known breeding populations.
Last year, NRM South’s Naturally Inspired Grants supported 12 volunteers to visit Melaleuca from October-December 2014, making an invaluable contribution to the monitoring program during the critical breeding season. Volunteers took daily observations, maintained the supplementary feeding program, and provided information and advocacy to public visitors to the area.
At the start of the 2014/15 Orange-bellied Parrot breeding season, 35 adult birds from the previous season had returned to Melaleuca following their winter migration to Victoria and South Australia.
Four captive-bred adults that were released in 2013 returned to Melaleuca at the beginning of the season, encouraging signs that captive bred birds can integrate into a wild population.
A further 27 captive-bred, banded adults were released at Melaleuca in October 2014, and the Friends of the OBP volunteers undertook daily monitoring of these birds which revealed that 18 (67%) survived the season in the wild, which is a great result.
This was a particularly important period of the monitoring program as volunteers monitored released captive-bred birds along with other OBPs in the wild population.
The DPIPWE Orange-bellied Parrot team recently announced preliminary results of breeding productivity at Melaleuca in the 2014-15 season. Based on chicks banded, a minimum of 28 fledglings were observed from at least 13 nests – very exciting news for the recovery of this critically endangered species which calls Tasmania home.
Photo: first observed fledgling for the 2014 breeding season. Photo credit: Marina Campbell, Friends of Orange-bellied Parrot