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Newsupdate no. 56 – September 2012

VOLUNTEERS ARE NEEDED FOR SPRING SURVEY TRIPS – see page 4 AGM 25 September – see page 3

Western Ground Parrot Captive Management Project Update by Abby Berryman Although all three of the captive females have been provided with a potential mate, there is no guarantee that any of them will breed successfully or even attempt to breed this year. Several of the birds have only just reached the age we would expect them to begin breeding at, and only Joy and Dawn have an established pair bond that resulted in an unsuccessful breeding attempt late last year. Below is an update on the behaviour that has been observed between the potential pairs of birds: Joy (male 09M04) and Dawn (female 09F04) In July’s newsletter it was reported that Dawn had begun displaying to Joy. The display consists of Dawn making a clucking noise and raising her tail to encourage Joy to mate with her. Over the last two months, Dawn has continued displaying to Joy, however her displays seemed to lack intensity. Joy, although interested, did not seem to be responding to Dawn’s display by mating with her. Much is still to be learnt about WGP breeding behaviour, and it is likely the conditions that trigger breeding weren’t quite right yet. On 27 August, the pair was finally observed mating and Joy has also been seen feeding Dawn on a couple of occasions. Dawn is not yet nesting and still needs to put on additional weight before commencing to lay. Zephyr (male 09M01) and Fifi (female 10F05) Zephyr and Fifi had a rocky start when introduced to each other (see previous newsletter) as neither are outgoing birds and both found each other’s presence somewhat disconcerting. Initially Fifi would run off whenever Zephyr approached, however with time she is gradually becoming more comfortable his presence. The threshold for her backing away from Zephyr is now about 15 cm – a vast improvement from the metre or so that was initially triggering her to run away! Storm (male 10M04) and Nellie (female 10F01) So far this year, breeding behaviour hasn’t been observed between these birds. However the video surveillance in their aviary is limited to a single camera focussed on the food tray. It is clear that they are not nesting at this stage but they do get on well together, regularly sharing the food tray.

It must be remembered that although the captive birds are being given the opportunity to breed, this is not yet a captive breeding program as it lacks the resources, facilities and number of captive birds necessary for a successful breeding and release program. One of the big challenges in the coming year is to secure the funding required to establish a captive breeding program.


Help the WGP with a new Spring t-shirt!! All of our WGP designs that are available from CafePress are shown here. Shirts can be chosen in a variety of colours and styles. CafePress also offers many other products such as caps and mugs for example, that a chosen design can be applied to. How can a WGP shirt help? Awareness raising when you appear in the shirt. Also CafePress donates 10% of the cost of the item to our WGP Rescue Fund. There is a bit of a time lag between ordering and receiving – weeks rather than days. If you don’t do PayPal, phone Stephen (editor) 0403873922 and an arrangement can be made. The url links to each design are below, or click a shirt design.

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Volunteers urgently required for Western Ground Parrot survey trips The Friends recently received an Environmental Community Grant from the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC). This grant is to be used to support volunteer involvement in surveying for Western Ground Parrots. Survey trips will be lead by DEC staff. Dates for survey trips are:  Nuytsland Nature Reserve – 27 October to 4 November (meeting in Esperance on the 27th) For this trip we are seeking volunteers experienced in identifying Western Ground Parrot calls, and also able to be self-sufficient with camping and catering for themselves, including bringing their own drinking water and additional fuel. Nuytsland is a remote location east of Cape Arid National Park, accessible only by 4WD. If you do not have a 4WD then there may be room for you in the DEC vehicle, or with another volunteer. Volunteers’ travel and food costs will be supported by the Environmental Community Grant. Camping equipment can be made available on request.

For all other survey trips, camping gear and food is supplied, and volunteers’ travel costs will be subsidised by the Environmental Community Grant. Training in identifying WGP calls will be provided. 

Fitzgerald River National Park – 12 to 17 November

Cape Arid National Park and Fitzgerald River National Park – Autumn 2013 Dates for these two trips are yet to be finalised, but will likely be in April/May. Register your interest now. Waychinicup Evening listening sessions will be commencing in October. These trips depart from Albany an hour prior to sunset and take approximately 3-4 hours including travel time. To register for a survey trip or for further details, please contact the Friends of the Western Ground Parrot (

Government Funding for the South Coast Cat-baiting Trials - with a little for captive management and monitoring The recently announced State Natural Resource Management funding ($600,000 over 3 years) is in addition to the Biodiversity Fund (Commonwealth funding of $1.45 million over 5 years), and the $250,000 that was allocated in the State Budget this year. Links to media statements and information detailing funding amounts and what the funds will be used for are: State NRM Biodiversity Fund State Budget allocation arrot&admin=&minister=&portfolio=&region= Although the Western Ground Parrot Recovery Project can continue to maintain the current captive management project for this financial year, insufficient funds have been secured to progress to a captive breeding project. It is very helpful that some of the funding for the Cat-baiting Trials is over a period longer than a year so that realistic plans can be made further into the future than just a few months.


Orange-bellied Parrots in extremely serious trouble There are only 36 orange-bellied parrots known to be alive in the wild. The situation has become so critical that if numbers drop further, the survivors will be rounded up and put into captivity by members of a national recovery team trying to save the species from extinction. The team - a large group of scientists and volunteers based in Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia - is about to release its new action plan, which includes this radical step of removing all the parrots from the wild if necessary. ''It's an option of last resort,'' says Peter Menkhorst, a zoologist with the Arthur Rylah Institute. ''But we won't hesitate.'' Central to the new plan is a delicate juggling act involving taking birds out of the wild to support the 20-yearold captive breeding program. The program was failing due to inbreeding until scientists made the ''radical'' decision two years ago to capture just under half the then known wild population of 50 birds and put them into the program. There are now 208 birds in the program - and it's anticipated that a small number of parrots will be released for this summer's breeding season in Tasmania. ''We won't be releasing lots of birds at this stage, because we still need to build up the genetic bank - and we need to do risk assessment to decide which birds to release,'' said Peter Copley, a senior ecologist with the South Australian Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources. Talk of running up the white flag on the wild population first began in 2010, when it was found that the wild population had fallen from 150 in 2006 to just 50. ''We could see they were about to become extinct fairly quickly in the wild,'' Mr Menkhorst said. Read more: Comparison: Orange-bellied Parrots (OBPs) have a very challenging lifestyle with annual flights across Bass Strait. It appears that their insurance policy (the captive breeding program) is where the uncertain hope of their survival as a species lies. Apart from fires, foxes, cats, and native predators, Western Ground Parrots may not have quite such a difficult life pattern but neither do they have a captive breeding program i.e. there is no insurance policy. WGPs have a dangerously small population, and have experienced sudden drops in numbers in recent times. On the plus side for the WGP are large areas of habitat in the conservation estate. Introduction of captive-bred WGPs into the wild would present many problems but not as many as for OBPs. B. Newbey

Newsletter Frequency The committee has voted to decrease the frequency of the newsletter. Subsequently there will be only four issues per year.

Contacts: Brenda Newbey (Chair). Phone (08) 9337 5673 Anne Bondin (Treasurer). Phone (08) 9844 1793 Dave Taylor (Secretary) 0458 502 836 Address: PO Box 5613, Albany, WA 6332 Email: Website: Archive: Previous issues of our newsletter are available online at Editor: Stephen Fryc Email:

Next issue: December 2012


WGP Newsletter September 2012  

Newsletter for the Western Groundparrot, September 2012

WGP Newsletter September 2012  

Newsletter for the Western Groundparrot, September 2012