THE Corangamite Catchment Management Authority is playing a big role in trying to save a small bird from extinction.
With a wild population of less than 50, the elusive male orange-bellied parrot is of great interest to a team trying to discover the location of its summer hide-out.
The parrot migrates between the Australian mainland and Tasmania, spending summers breeding in Tasmania and winters in coastal South Australia and Victoria, including along the south-west coastline.
In its 2012 update, the orange-bellied parrot recovery team has revealed that an eight-year-old male bird, spotted over winter around Port Phillip Bay, has not been seen for several seasons at the only known breeding site for the species at Melaleuca on Tasmania’s west coast.
Recovery team member Peter Menkhorst, from the Department of Sustainability and Environment’s (DSE) Arthur Rylah Institute, said the team had been aware of that particular bird since he was banded as a juvenile at Melaleuca in the summer of 2004-05.
“He has been seen in Victoria over several winters, but we still don’t know where he goes during the breeding season,” Mr Menkhorst said.
“With such small numbers in the wild it is of great interest to the recovery team to find out if there is another, previously unknown, site where this species breeds.
“Unfortunately, no matter where he is going, we know from the small numbers coming to the winter feeding grounds in Victoria and South Australia that there is no large undiscovered breeding population of these birds.”
He said other results of the 2012 breeding season were encouraging, with all known adult females participating in breeding at Melaleuca and at least 14 young fledgling.
“The team decided it wasn’t necessary for any more wild birds to be taken into captivity this year as part of the captive breeding program,” Mr Menkhorst said.
“The successful captive breeding program, based at Healesville Sanctuary in Victoria, as well as at other facilities in Tasmania, New South Wales and South Australia, now has more than 200 birds and the team is considering the possibility of a release of captive-bred birds in the near future.”
Corangamite Catchment Management Authority is co-ordinating the project with a $1 million grant from the federal and state governments.