To be able to protect Western Ground Parrots it is essential to learn more about their behavior and how they use their habitat. As a bird that spends most of its time close to the ground, the parrots are particularly vulnerable to the predation of feral cats and foxes which are regularly baited.
As the birds are rarely seen, the most reliable method to establish their presence is through listening for their calls. Monitoring the wild population has become easier in recent years.
Using a grid of acoustic recording units which can be left in the field for months at a time, the calls of the birds are captured and later analyzed.
Protecting the Western Ground Parrot from out-of-control wildfires is a huge challenge. A drying climate and an increase of thunderstorm activity have resulted in several major bushfires since the turn of the century. The most recent fires have seen much of the parrots’ known occupied habitat go up in flames.
Parks and Wildlife Team
Based in Albany and Esperance, staff of the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) is implementing recovery actions identified in the recovery plan for the species. Their work ranges from protecting the parrots from feral predators and wildfires to monitoring the wild population. For more details visit their dedicated webpage about the Western Ground Parrot.
During the years 2009 and 2010 a small number of young Western Ground Parrots were captured to determine whether it would be possible to maintain them in captivity and to eventually set up a captive breeding project to boost the critically low numbers in the wild. In July 2014 seven Western Ground Parrots were transferred to Perth Zoo to set up a captive breeding trial. After several years, a pair successfully mated and two of the female birds produced eggs, but to date no chicks have resulted from this trial.
In 2018, five additional birds were added to the ageing captive population in order to increase the chances of successful breeding. The birds have settled in well and have started to show some courtship behaviour.
Much has been learned in recent years about the behaviour of the Western Ground Parrot, a species not known to have been previously kept in captivity. The birds at Perth Zoo are being monitored around the clock by a sophisticated CCTV system. The captured footage is later analyzed by staff with the help of volunteers.