Study: Swift Parrot Population May Decline Up To 94 Percent In 12 To 18 Years

Sugar gliders are to blame for the grim numbers, but researchers are ready to do what it takes to save the swift parrot.

Sugar gliders are to blame for the grim numbers, but researchers are ready to do what it takes to save the swift parrot.

Swift Parrot
Swift Parrot by Dejan Stojanovic/Courtesy Loro Parque
Swift parrots have the longest migrations of any parrot in the world.

There? a new study based on something we covered last year: sugar gliders preying on swift parrots. At the time, the study found that “when sugar gliders prey on the swift parrot nests in areas where there was high forest loss, 83 percent of the time the animals ate the eggs and mother.?In some cases, the mortality rate could be as high as 100 percent.

It? only gotten worse since the study was published; now a new study says the swift parrots (Lathamus discolor)are in big trouble because of the sugar gliders. They may be going to the way of the dodo, researchers say.

In a study called, “A severe predator-induced population decline predicted for endangered, migratory swift parrots,” published in “Biological Conservation,” the researchers found that “that the remaining swift parrot population is likely to decrease by 78.8 to 94.7% Šover only three generations [12?8 years].?lt;/span>

“Swift parrots are in far worse trouble than anybody previously thought,” said leader of the study, Professor Robert Heinsohn, from The Australian National University (AUN) in an AUN media release. “Everyone, including foresters, environmentalists and members of the public will be severely affected if they go extinct,” said Professor Heinsohn from the ANU Fenner School of Environment and Society.

According to the AUN, “Swift parrots are major pollinators of blue and black gum trees which are crucial to the forestry industry, which controversially continues to log swift parrot habitat.”

But researchers haven’t given up yet. On April 2, 2015, in an article written for Australian National University, “Let’s stop Tasmania’s swift parrots going the way of the dodo,” Stojanovic wrote, “We are launching a crowd-funding campaign to protect swift parrots and two other Tasmanian birds: orange-bellied parrots, and forty-spotted pardalotes. All three of these birds are threatened by sugar gliders. We are tying to develop glider-proof nest boxes, and undertake urgent research to understand how sugar gliders may be affecting these endangered Tasmanian birds.”

In less than 3 days, the fundraiser has more than met its goal. Part of the fundraiser is going to help pardalotes, who are suffering from parasitic flies that kill their nestlings, as well as orange-bellied parrots. The researchers have already reached one fundraising goal, and their next goal of $75,000 will “help pardalotes AND [create] trial techniques to protect swift parrot nests in natural hollows from sugar gliders. Swift parrots are SO vulnerable to gliders on the Tasmanian mainland that we desperately need to understand what makes gliders eat birds, and with more money we can get creative with ways to make swift parrots safer.”

The fundraiser ends May 31, 2015.

The orange-bellied parrot (Neophema chrysogaster) is a bird native to Australia as well. The orange-bellied parrot is critically endangered, with BirdLife.org estimating that there are only 49 mature adults in the population. Due to a number of factors, mostly habitat destruction and introduced bird species competing for food, the orange-bellied parrots?numbers have dropped rapidly.

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