Last updated October 18, 2017 at 4:25 pm
Swift Parrots are a critically endangered nomadic migratory bird found only in south-eastern Australia.
Their small population of less than 2000 birds is continuing to decline, and a newly identified threat, predation by introduced sugar gliders in Tasmania, is becoming a major driver of their continued demise.
The Difficult Birds Research Group at the Australian National University (ANU) have developed a plan to help protect the parrots from the sugar gliders.
Each year, swift parrots move to a new breeding area in Tasmania, depending on where the most abundant food is. This year things have changed, and the swift parrots have settled the east coast of mainland Tasmania.
Unfortunately, introduced sugar gliders (the main predator of swift parrots) are common on the Tasmanian east coast. We’re very concerned that parrots will be eaten by sugar gliders this year. Birds have already begun to arrive in nesting areas where sugar gliders occur, and are busily looking for nests – it’s a matter of a week or two before birds begin to nest.
We’ve been working hard to try and figure out how to protect swift parrots from sugar gliders in nest boxes.
We’ve designed and trialled a new device called the ‘Possum Keeper Outter’ (PKO).
PKOs are a mechanical door, triggered to open by light, allowing the parrots to go about their business in the day. The PKO shuts at night, locking the gliders out and keeping the parrots safe inside nest boxes. We trialled PKOs on swift parrots last year to check if the birds are disturbed by the PKO, and we were thrilled to find they didn’t mind the machinery at all. Based on those results, we’re ready to mobilise PKOs across danger-zones for swift parrots on the Tasmanian mainland.
We need your help to raise enough money to equip 100 nest boxes with a PKO. We need to act quickly because birds are already looking for places to nest. We’ve got a great headstart, because volunteers from the Victorian Tree Industry Organisation have already helped us deploy 100 boxes at likely nesting locations, but we urgently need to build 100 PKOs to accompany every box to keep the parrots safe from predators. That’s why we’re going for a short campaign, to quickly get the funds we need to build the PKOs in time for the breeding season in a couple of weeks.