BEACON TRANSCRIPT – Conservation scientists from the Australian National University or ANU have set up an urgent crowdfunding campaign in an effort to protect and save the critically endangered swift parrot from what they are calling a “potential parrot massacre”.
The Lathamus discolor, more commonly known as the swift parrot, is a small species indigenous to Tasmania which migrates in the winter. A 2011 report found less than 2,000 adult specimens still living in the wild. In 2014, ANU researchers modeled that the species might become extinct by 2031 because of habitat loss and predation.
Swift Parrots, Unprepared to Face A Newly Arrived Predator
These small parrots have been breeding on Bruny Island, a Tasmanian region that used to be free of sugar gliders. However, large numbers of such nocturnal gliding possums have been noted to have moved to the state’s east coast.
ANU’s Dr. Dejan Stojanovic considers that the swift parrots on Bruny are unprepared to face a potential invasion of sugar gliders. As he points out, the tiny species is rather defenseless against the gliders that can eat anything from the egg to the baby, to the adult parrot itself.
In trying to prevent this from happening, ANU is looking to build nest boxes, which could then be used to protect the tiny parrots.
The team has already launched a crowdfunding campaign, with a deadline set for mid-next week. Its goal is to attract $40,000 or at least enough money to build 100 of the proposed gated nest boxes that would also be solar paneled.
These so-called “possum-keeper-outer” are nest boxes with a door that gets closed as night falls.
“Effectively, it’s just a little motor and a light sensor. As soon as it’s daytime the sensor automatically detects that there’s ambient light and it will open to release the parrot to go about their business”, explains Dr. Stojanovic.
The urgency of the campaign comes from the fact that the swift parrots have already returned from their migration and are looking for places to nest.
So the researchers are all set and will try to build the much-needed boxes within the following weeks. They hope that, in doing so, they will help raise these tiny parrots’ chances at a safe and normal breeding season, and their subsequent survival.
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