Orange-bellied Parrot Recovery

SUMMARY

NRM South are working with project partners on two complementary projects that aim to find out more about the specific biology and habitat requirements of Orange-bellied Parrots (OBPs), develop and implement management strategies to optimise and extend their habitat area, improve infrastructure that supports the existing OBP captive breeding program at Melaleuca and supply additional nesting opportunities within their preferred habitat.

 

BACKGROUND

The Orange-bellied Parrot (Neophema chrysogaster) is a critically endangered species and one of twenty priority bird species under the Australian Government’s Threatened Species Strategy. Wild populations have been reduced to a single population that only breeds in one site in southwest Tasmania, migrating annually along the Tasmanian west coast between Tasmanian and coastal Victoria and south-eastern South Australia.

PARTNERS

The Tasmanian Department of Primary Industry, Parks, Water and Environment (DPIPWE) and the Australian National University (ANU)

FUNDING

The Australian Government’s Regional Land Partnerships Program

PROJECT DURATION

Project 1: 2020-2022 (18 months)

Project 2: 2021-2023

Project 1: Priority investigations to support OBP recovery

Orange-bellied Parrots are at risk of extinction from a range of factors, including their small population size, limited breeding range, migratory behaviours and habitat degradation. NRM South is supporting ANU and DPIPWE in their efforts to identify new captively bred birds release sites, enhance the provision of food resources through fire management, and evaluate how different threats and management interventions may affect their extinction risk. The results of this analysis will be used to inform how best to manage this species into the future.

This 18-month project will deliver;
• An Orange-bellied Parrot Population Viability Analysis (a tool that helps forecast future population trends based on different scenarios);
• An assessment of a second captively bred release site in the hope this will result in the establishment of a second Orange-bellied Parrot breeding population in southwest Tasmania; and
• Planned burns to improve the abundance and availability of food plants for Orange-bellied Parrots in southwest Tasmania.

Project 2: Further support for OBP recovery

We are working with the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industry, Parks, Water and Environment (DPIPWE) and the Australian National University (ANU) to secure the future of critically endangered Orange-bellied Parrots. Orange-bellied Parrots breed within a single area in south-west Tasmania (Melaleuca), and efforts to boost and protect this species have been ongoing for many years.

While it hoped that their precariously low numbers are beginning to recover as a result of these ongoing efforts, the chances of success are being improved by repeating and installing new nest boxes at their breeding site and expanding the potential breeding range. This project will be providing additional nest boxes in the Melaleuca valley with the aim of increasing (or at least maintaining) the number of wild-born OBPs. Population monitoring will determine how effective these changes have been. At the same time, ANU will conduct a detailed assessment of the availability of tree hollows as nesting sites at Melaleuca and assess the impact of various land management scenarios on OBP habitat.

The project is made up of four distinct subprojects. Three subprojects are being led by the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industry, Parks, Water and Environment, overseeing the following activities;

1) improve nest management and monitoring,

2) improve critical infrastructure in the current nesting area, and

3) extend the area over which nesting infrastructure is provided to support breeding.

The final subproject is a research component being led by the Australian National University. It is assessing the availability of natural tree cavities for Orange-bellied Parrot nesting, and what factors play a role in nesting hollow suitability for OBPs.