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Newsupdate no. 42 – May 2010 Friends of the Western Ground Parrot Inc. news The Western Ground Parrot Captive Management Project by Abby Berryman Perhaps the best place to start the update on the Captive Management Project is to put it into context with the rest of the WGP Recovery Project. The Recovery Project takes an integrated approach to conserving the WGP with the main aim to halt and eventually reverse the decline of the wild populations by reducing pressures on these populations (predation by feral cats and inappropriate fire regimes). Both predator control (see article in previous issue) and fire management are integral parts of the recovery effort.

could be safely taken maintained successfully.




At the recent meeting of the Department of Environment and Conservation’s South Coast Threatened Birds Recovery Team it was agreed that because of the success of the project so far, the next logical step is to take several more birds into captivity to trial captive breeding. However, funding for a trial captive breeding program is yet to be secured. Update on the captive birds

The ideal is to conserve the WGP in the wild. It is recognised that in conjunction with this we needed to investigate the feasibility of captive breeding. It may take some time for a reduction in cat numbers to translate into an increase in WGP numbers. Particularly in Fitzgerald River National Park, the known WGP populations are now so small that they may never fully recover. Captive breeding, if successful, provides the potential to supplement the depleted populations with captive bred individuals to give a better chance of recovery or to reintroduce WGPs into areas where they no longer occur. The first step towards a captive breeding project was to take a small number of WGPs into captivity to trial captive management. WGPs had not been kept in captivity before so there was the need for a small-scale trial to ensure that they

Since the last update in the January newsletter, the three captive ground parrots have continued to do well. They have now been in captivity for more than five months, giving us the confidence that we can maintain them in captivity. The three captive WGPs are monitored on a daily basis via the video surveillance. This monitoring includes recording their weight (see graph below) and doing a condition check looking at activity levels, alertness and breathing. Over time we have built up a good picture of what is normal for each of the three birds and if anything out of the ordinary is noticed then extra attention is paid to observing that bird closely for indications of illness.


Joy and Dawn show very similar behaviour throughout the day with periods of feeding interspersed with rest periods. Both birds spend a lot of time each day eating the fresh native vegetation that they are provided with. This vegetation includes a variety of plants that are flowering or seeding. At times both Joy and Dawn become very active, running around the aviary and doing small jumps and flits into the air. It is possible that this behaviour is a type of ‘play’ as both are young birds whereas this hasn’t been observed in Zephyr, who is older. In general, Zephyr is much less active than the two young birds. At one point he had become quite sedentary, spending most of his day sitting in the one spot with occasional visits to the feed tray to eat budgie seed and he showed very little interest in the native plant food. As a result of this inactivity, Zephyr’s weight began to increase and it became necessary to attempt to control this weight gain. The amount of budgie seed that Zephyr was given was reduced but he was still

supplied with plenty of native plant food, with the aim of encouraging him to eat these plants. Over several weeks this had the intended effect and Zephyr began to spend more time each day eating the native plants and his weight slowly decreased and stabilised. There are several benefits gained from eating the native plants – they encourage the bird to work harder to obtain its food, providing stimulation for the bird and the native plants are more likely to provide the full range of nutrients that the bird requires. Overall, the three birds have settled into captivity well. The behaviour of Joy and Dawn in particular shows that they are well-adjusted birds and even Zephyr has shown marked improvements by becoming more active and feeding on the native plants. Within the next month or two, the birds will be shifted into new, purpose-built aviaries. These aviaries are larger and have had the vegetation within them retained, providing an even better captive environment for the birds.

Abby Berryman giving her very informative presentation at the meeting of the Friends of the Western Ground Parrot. The excellent venue was the conference room of the South Coast Natural Resource Management Centre.


Report on our general meeting by Brenda Newbey On 4 May, in Albany, the Friends of the Western Ground Parrot had their first general meeting since setting up as a formal association. Some highlights are summarized below. Abby Berryman, the WGP Recovery Project leader, gave a well illustrated and detailed presentation on the management of the first three WGPs ever to be held in captivity. Some of the material she presented is in her article (above).

Lobbying Committee member Col Heap pointed out that recently the Orange-bellied Parrot Recovery Team had sought help from Commonwealth Environment Minister Garrett and suggested that the Friends of the WGP should follow suit.

It is clear that the recovery process for the Western Ground Parrot will be slow and expensive. The grant system is chancy and so we want to make ourselves attractive to corporate and other donors and this is why we are pursuing this course.

Note: The wild Orange-bellied Parrot population has recently dropped from 140 to below 50. The species could become extinct in the wild within only five years. There is a well-established captive breeding program for OBPs. A letter from the Orange-bellied Parrot Recovery Team to Minister Garrett outlining their proposed actions in response to this worsening situation, had several positive outcomes including a ministerial Media Release as well as some emergency funding. Please see If the WGP has a similar population drop in within the next few years (similar to the OBP and a continuation of what has already been occurring within the WGP population) the species could be lost altogether as the captive breeding program is yet to be established. It is likely that the South Coast Threatened Birds Recovery Team will soon prepare a letter to Minister Garrett. Our Friends group will also write a letter. Our letter will stress the extremely precarious situation of the WGP and the urgency of retaining the recovery momentum, despite the fact that necessary documentation relating to the WGP being a species rather than a subspecies, is not yet in place. It would be timely for individual members of our group to write to the minister.

Info CD

The AGM was set for 29 September 2010.

FOWGP is working on a stand-alone CD or DVD presentation which we intend to be of use when we are seeking funding. Saul Cowen, a committee member has done the work on it so far. The draft was shown at the meeting and received several positive comments. Saul wants to get advice to polish it with a professional finish. Can you help? If ‘yes’ or ‘maybe’ please contact Saul by email


Deon Utber, our secretary, who is also Regional Leader Nature Conservation for the DEC South Coast Region, gave a short address on the habitat-improvement aspects of the WGP Recovery Project. Anne Bondin our vice-chair and acting treasurer was commended for all the work she has done for the Friends group over the past few months. Tax deductible status At the general meeting the Friends of the WGP got the necessary agreement to change our constitution so as to be able to seek tax deductibility status. Achieving tax deductibility status will take a few more months (minimum).

Membership fees for the 2001/2011 year fall due on 1 July. We need more members. A letter concerning Membership Renewal is attached or enclosed. Although it is addressed to existing paid up members do consider joining while there is still hope for the Western Ground Parrot.

Cape Arid National Park survey: The survey earlier this month located some vigorously calling WGPs. More details should be available for the next issue.

Online donations We have set up an online donation facility through This is a free service for community organisations supported by Westpac. It allows anyone, no matter where they are in the world, to make a credit card donation to the Friends of the Western Ground Parrot. For more information visit the following website:


Public Fund Committee We are seeking nominations for the committee to administer the Western Ground Parrot Rescue Fund, the public fund recently established to receive tax deductible donations. This committee, which will consist of at least three members, is expected to meet about once a year. The majority of persons serving on this committee are required to be “responsible persons” as defined by by the Guidelines to the Register of Environmental Organisations. People who may qualify as “responsible persons” include public servants with more than five years service, teachers with more than five years experience, accountants, and past or present office holders of community organisations. Please contact us if you consider nominating for a position on the committee. Volunteer Grant Applications We have applied for a grant through the Volunteer Grants 2010 initiative run by the federal government hoping to receive funds for the purchase of four SongMeter autonomous recording units. These units would greatly assist with the monitoring of Western Ground Parrots and make life much easier for volunteers as they can be set up and retrieved during daylight hours. An application was made for DEC Environmental Community funding. If successful, this will offer some support to volunteers involved in WGP monitoring.

For Sale


5 Cards and 5 postcards for $ 10 Postage free Contact: Val Hack 0409 443 331 or email: There are also various shirts in stock.

Contacts: Brenda Newbey (Chair). Phone (08) 9337 5673 Anne Bondin (Vice Chair). Phone (08) 9844 1793 Deon Utber (Secretary) Phone (08) 9844 8863 Address: PO Box 5613, Albany, WA 6332 Website:


Archive: Previous issues of our newsletter are available online at Editor: Stephen Fryc Email: Next issue:

July 2010


May 2010 Western Ground Parrot Newsletter  

News updates on this endangered parrot.

May 2010 Western Ground Parrot Newsletter  

News updates on this endangered parrot.