The Orange-Bellied Parrot (OBP) Recovery Team has confirmed that as of 21 January 2020, 23 OBPs have returned to the last known breeding location, Melaleuca in the last year.
- More than half of these OBPs are females, for the first time in five years;
- Among those returned birds, 16 were born in the wild, six were first year birds migrating successfully for the first time, while the remaining ten successful wild-born migrants were aged up to at least nine years old;
- The other seven of the OBPs that returned were born in captivity and released at Melaleuca as either: juveniles last autumn (four) or the previous autumn (one), or adults last spring (one) or a previous spring (one).
DPIPWE led the release of 34 OBPs (17 males, 17 females) to maximise the number of breeding pairs and young birds born in the wild this season.
Of the 34 OBPs added to the population:
- nine were captive-bred adults released to the wild for the first time.
- the remaining 25 OBPs were released after being captured in the wild last autumn and held in captivity over winter. Three of these were captive-born birds that had been released the previous spring,18 were wild-born birds that fledged last breeding season, and four were wild born birds that had fledged the previous season.
The OBPs (listed above) were either born or held in captivity in the OBP Tasmanian Program's Five Mile Beach facility, Moonlit Sanctuary, Zoos Victoria's Healesville Sanctuary and Werribee Open Range Zoo.
The OBP is one of Australia's most critically endangered species. Throughout the past decade, the number of individuals that have returned to Melaleuca has ranged between 17 and 35 individuals.
With the best female returns for several years and released birds boosting the small wild population, the OBP Tasmanian Program are hopeful for promising results this breeding season.
A full summary by the Orange-bellied Parrot Recovery Team can be found below:
Volunteers have reported observations of 20 wild return OBPs at Melaleuca – 11 males and 9 females.
8 are wild born birds >1 year of age that have undergone a natural migration;
4 are wild born birds <1 year of age that have undergone a natural migration;
1 is a wild born bird that was previously head-started (at Werribee Open Range Zoo) and released at Melaleuca in Spring 2018 before migrating naturally this year;
2 are captive-bred birds released in previous spring releases (one from DPIPWE, one from Priam);
1 is a captive-bred bird released as a juvenile in autumn 2018 (bred at Healesville) and
4 are captive-bred birds released as juveniles in autumn 2019 (all bred at Moonlit).
A further 34 individuals have now been released at Melaleuca. This supplementation increases the number of breeding pairs at Melaleuca (the only breeding site for OBPs) and balances the sex ratio, which prevents extinction in the wild.
15 OBPs were released at New Harbour (8 male on 30/11/19, 7 female on 31/11/19).
Of these, as at 4/11/19, up to nine have been detected as follows:
Five in one release aviary, with a sixth calling outside;
One is being observed at both Melaleuca and New Harbour and
Two are outside of the immediate release area.
Monitoring at the site is underway using camera and passive and active radio tracking.
This reintroduction aims to increase the size and extent of the Tasmanian breeding population and trial methods of release at more locations, to allow us to build towards a release strategy that can minimise the risks associated with a single breeding site.