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Newsupdate no. 47 – March 2011 Friends of the Western Ground Parrot Inc. news

Update on the Captive Management Project In the November newsletter it was reported that State NRM funding had been secured to enable the Department of Environment and Conservation to take more WGPs into captivity and Brenda Newbey’s article told of the capture of the first three birds (a male and two females, all juveniles). This article continues the story, telling of the settling in of the first three birds and the capture and settling of another three birds…

The first two birds captured travelled very well on the trip back to the captive facility. Both of them fed on the trip so by the time they arrived they were slightly heavier than their capture weight. They were released into the aviary that afternoon and settled very quickly, with both finding the food tray by the following morning. They rapidly became familiar with the food tray set-up and looked very relaxed while feeding – so much so that in the first two days, Nellie (the female) put on 7 grams! The male bird (Fly) has also maintained a good weight. Another juvenile female was captured the following morning (18 Nov). She was named Fang as she was a feisty little bird who gives a rather painful bite. She didn’t eat on the trip back but was in good condition when she arrived. That afternoon she found the pile of native plant food and began feeding well and also made her first (albeit brief!) venture onto the food tray. By the following morning she was looking very relaxed feeding on the native food as well as the seed on the food tray. Her weight was good and she looked very bright and active On November 24 a further three WGPs (two males and a female) were caught. These three birds settled in very quickly. Two of the birds (a male named Brutus and a female named Fifi) were put in an aviary together. Not long after release into the aviary they could be seen sitting side by side at the back of the aviary preening each other. A little over two hours later they were both on the food tray looking very relaxed and feeding together. This has been the fastest time yet that birds have taken to find the food tray. The other male that was captured on November 24 was put into an aviary with Nellie. Nellie had calmly walked away and hidden when we approached the aviary to release the new male. When the male was released he walked a few steps, sat and looked around for a moment and then did a short flight. The only problem was that he landed pretty much right on top of where Nellie had hidden which gave both birds a fright! Following this, they were both quite wary of each other for the rest of the day but by the following day they were beginning to relax. They now get on very well and are often seen feeding together. The male has been named Storm because of the way he introduced himself to Nellie. On December 9, sadly the decision had to be made to euthanase one of the birds (the second female captured this year, named Fang). She had badly broken her leg when she flew into the solid wall of the aviary and despite a local vet spending a lot of time trying to stabilise the fracture, the leg could not be repaired successfully. Fang was a very flighty bird and she had never settled as well as the others - she still flushed every time the aviary was accessed to change the food and water.

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When the aviaries were prepared for the WGPs we put in a lot of effort erecting a shadecloth barrier inside the pen to screen the wire mesh to soften any impacts. It was thought that the birds were most at risk of injuring themselves against the wire as it wasn’t a visual barrier. The solid walls however are a very obvious barrier and we had assumed that a bird would try to avoid colliding with them. Fang however proved us wrong and in future we will soften all sides of the settling-in aviary to avoid a repeat occurrence. The remaining five new birds have settled very well into captivity and the risk of them injuring themselves like Fang did is minimal. They all readily accept human presence at feed time and rarely flush. If they do fly, the flights are very safe and controlled. Usually the birds will just sit and watch while the food is changed and as soon as the person has left they will be straight down to sample the fresh food. The new birds will spend the first two months in quarantine to minimise the risk of introducing disease into the captive population. At the end of this time (early February), they will be screened for diseases. Once they have been given the all-clear they will be moved into the new aviaries with the other three captive birds. Genetic work should hopefully commence soon to establish how closely related the captive WGPs are. The aim of this work will be to determine which pairings will be most suitable to maximise the genetic diversity of any offspring. Based on observations of wild birds we think that they probably pair up around March/April and we will be aiming to introduce potential mates to each other at this time. It is not known what age WGPs breed at, but based on what is known about similar parrot species, it may not be until they are two years of age. This means that the most recent lot of birds may not be ready to breed until 2012. However, it was encouraging to see last year that Dawn (who at that stage was a little over one year old) was showing interest in Joy. Joy is the same age as Dawn but didn’t quite seem to know how to respond. It may be that females mature faster than males so there is a chance that one of our new females may breed if she is paired with Zephyr (the adult male). This trial of captive breeding forms the next step of the WGP Captive Management Project. We know that we can successfully keep WGPs in captivity but need to establish that we can breed them successfully before progressing to a full-scale captive breeding program. Provided that the WGPs will breed in captivity, a captive breeding program will require the capture of more birds as well as additional funding, which is still being sought. By Abby Berryman 2011 Acknowledgements The capture of the new Western Ground Parrots for the Captive Management Project would not have been possible without the combined effort of staff from DEC (five Regional and two Science Division staff), Perth Zoo and volunteers. Eight volunteers contributed a total of 889 hours to the effort! Funding for the capture work was provided by State NRM. Thanks to all the staff and volunteers involved. Fifi and Brutus feeding together on the day of their arrival, on left. Photo DEC.

On a side note, this link http://tinyurl.com/abcwgp is a

rough timeline of OLD Western Ground Parrot articles, mainly from the ABC. The newer relevant articles tend to be towards the bottom of the page. This page should update itself should there be more news.

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There

is a recent DEC media release making mention of funding to help the Western Ground Parrot. You can find the release here; http://tinyurl.com/69p884x .Apparently this is not new funding.

Here

are two articles from different sources outlining the current situation of the Western Ground Parrot. They provide very interesting facts and up to date background information. The first article link is at http://tinyurl.com/4bpsubf. It was made available from the Parrot Society Of Australia. It is very well presented, written by Brenda Newbey, and features in their recent magazine issue. Thanks PSOA !!! This link; http://tinyurl.com/45oeox5 leads to a very detailed article on the Bush Warriors website that outlines the plight and struggle of the Western Ground Parrot. Both Articles are recommended reading.

Wine Label Competition Results Although there were only seven entries to the competition we were very pleased with them all. As hoped, there was a range of style, with photo-shopped images of Charlie predominating. Our judge selected entries by Simon Wilson and Judy Blyth as the winners. Each is to receive a bottle of Condingup wine. We thank those who entered and hope to make good use of the entries for the benefit of the WGP and we also thank our judge. The committee chose another of the entries for the wine label. It was by Stephen Fryc. Judy Blyth’s winning entry is below and Simon Wilson’s winning entry is on the right. Ministerial Visit to Aviaries The state's new Minister for Environment and Water, Bill Marmion, recently travelled to the South Coast. His crammed itinerary also included a visit to the aviary facilities where the Western Ground Parrots are housed. Apart from inspecting the aviaries the minister was also informed about the measures taken by DEC to reduce the feral predator threats faced by the parrot in the wild. A representative from our group was also invited to meet the Minister and give a brief talk about our organisation. Anne Bondin took the opportunity to emphasize the need for funding to assist with conservation efforts and spoke about the achievements the organisation has had in attracting private donations.

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Conspicuous Beach survey In October 2010 walkers on the Bibbulmun Track near Walpole reported seeing an unfamiliar parrot which they reported as a Western Ground Parrot. Staff from DEC's Frankland District office in Walpole together with volunteers from the Walpole-Nornalup National Park Association, as well as from our group, have been conducting searches in the area where the observation was made. Several dawn and dusk listening sessions have been carried out since late January and an autonomous recording unit has been deployed in the field for the past two months. However, to date no further evidence of the presence of Western Ground Parrots near Conspicuous Cliffs has been found. Field work was made somewhat difficult by the proximity of the ocean which was creating a constant background noise of waves breaking on the beach. However, the survey team is confident it didn't miss any ground parrot calls. The only parrots recorded in the area were Rock Parrots as well as an Australian Ringneck. Overall there appeared to be only a limited number of bushbirds with Red-eared Firetail, White-browed Scrub-wren, Silvereye and Splendid Fairy-wren being the most commonly encountered species. A dawn chorus was almost non-existent. The vegetation in the area where the suspected sighting occurred does not have a great variety of flora, giving rise to the thought that if a Western Ground Parrot had been present late last year, it would have now moved on to more floristically diverse heathland. Such habitat is found further along the Bibbulmun Track towards Peaceful Bay. Anyone hiking in the area is encouraged to keep an eye out for unusual parrots.

Great News is that the Western Ground Parrot Wine Sales are still on track. Please download your order form from: http://tinyurl.com/4bqy3fw

This order form also has details about the wine. This is fantastic wine from Condingup.

Field trip to Fitzgerald River National Park. The April field trip to search for WGPs in FRNP was cancelled due to lack of volunteers. Another week long trip is being planned for late May. It will be led by B. Newbey. Volunteer travel will be subsidized. Please register your interest by email or contact Anne Bondin.

Contacts: Brenda Newbey (Chair). Phone (08) 9337 5673

Anne Bondin (Secretary/Treasurer). Phone (08) 9844 1793

Address: PO Box 5613, Albany, WA 6332

Email: wgparrot@gmail.com

Website: www.western-ground-parrot.org.au Archive: Previous issues of our newsletter are available online at http://wgpnewsletters.blogspot.com/ Editor: Stephen Fryc Email: pwazzx@gmail.com

Next issue: May 2011

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Friends of the Western Ground Parrot March 2011