Threatened species day- threatened parrots receive a high tech backpack

News article |

This spring the Murraylands and Riverland Landscape Board’s Ecology program, along with the community based Regent Parrot Recovery Team, will be working on a project to attach satellite trackers to regent parrots.

Posted 31 August 2020.

The Murraylands and Riverland Landscape Board’s Threatened Fauna Ecologist Luke Ireland said this is timely as 7 September is National Threatened Species Day which seeks to raise awareness of plants and animals at risk of extinction such as the regent parrot - found nowhere else in the world.

“Threatened Species Day is when we try to highlight our native plants, animals, and ecosystems that are under threat and reflect on how we can protect them into the future,” Mr Ireland said.

“Our region has more than 2,000 plant species and over 450 animal species, with many of these threatened and that number is increasing. We must protect these native plants and animals by managing their habitats and threats.

“Recent nest survey data has shown that the regent parrot population in South Australia is declining and this work allows us to understand what is important to them in the landscape and to use this information to reverse the decline.

“The trackers will help us to understand the birds’ movements around the landscape, what foods they are eating, how far they travel from their nest hollow to collect food and also their movements in the non-breeding season.

“To do this, the Murraylands and Riverland Landscape Board’s Ecology program and the Regent Parrot Recovery Team designed a backpack style harness that fits snugly over the birds’ wings with a satellite tracker that transmits the birds’ movements throughout the day,” Mr Ireland said.

“To make the tracker light enough for a bird of this size to carry, it has a small battery recharged by a solar panel on the top that allows the tracker to collect data over long periods.

“This builds on the fantastic work the Regent Parrot Recovery Team have done over the last eight years, which began with radio tracking individual birds to find out where the birds were roosting, feeding and breeding.

“The new satellite trackers can send very accurate data, which makes our job much easier as we don’t have to manually locate each bird!

“In December 2019 we attached trackers to birds at Gluepot Reserve in the Riverland to learn more about their movements in the non-breeding season.

“We recorded the locations of one bird which moved from Gluepot Reserve to Waikerie and then to the northwest of Blanchetown and back again.

“These movements illustrate how far the birds will go to find food resources,” Mr Ireland said.

The community based Regent Parrot Recovery Team working on this project is supported by the Murraylands and Riverland Landscape Board through funding from the Australian Government's National Landcare Program, Threatened Mallee Bird project, ZooSA and the landscape levies.

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