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The swift parrot’s very specific breeding requirements places it at high risk with habitat loss.

Swift parrots still in peril, despite revised numbers of surviving birds due to new counting method

(ABC News) -- While a new method of counting has resulted in the estimates of an endangered bird species being revised upwards, researchers say it in no way means the threat of extinction has lessened for the swift parrot.
New research has found the population has many as 500 individuals, an increase on the 300 estimated in a 2020 survey.
The new research, conducted by The Australian National University (ANU), has confirmed fears the population of swift parrots — which breeds only in eastern Tasmania — is rapidly declining.
Researcher Dejan Stojanovic and his team from ANU’s environment department recorded the new estimate by using a more precise method involving genetic markers and an updated sample size from a decade’s worth of data, replacing the previous population estimate.
Researchers rely on population data to develop conservation strategies and to estimate the time until a species’ predicted extinction.
Some scientists, including Dr Stojanovic, believe that swift parrots could be extinct by 2031.
He said Tasmania’s old-growth native forests had been “severely affected by logging” over the past few decades, “diminishing the availability of habitat” that the swift parrots need to breed, which has ultimately left the species critically endangered and vulnerable to extinction.
Sugar gilders also pose some threat to swift parrots, as the non-endemic marsupials prey on the birds and their eggs.
However, Dr Stojanovic said that “the predation of sugar gliders is worst in areas that have been logged”, and that logging is therefore the “underlying driver” of the decrease in swift parrots.
He said that sugar gliders were often used as “convenient scapegoats that cover for a lack of forest management” and deflect from conversations on old-growth native logging.
The nomadic birds breed exclusively in Tasmania during the warmer months, before migrating to the Australian mainland over winter.
Dr Stojanovic said that Tasmania’s political leaders needed to stop treating the species as a “political football”, and that policies on forest protection need to be put in place by the state government to save the swift parrots.
While protections are yet to be implemented, the Supreme Court of Tasmania ordered logging to be suspended in a Huon Valley forestry coupe this past January, as the area is known to be habitat for the swift parrot.
The case to save their breeding ground was made by the Bob Brown Foundation, the not-for-profit organisation founded by the former leader of the Australian Greens.
The decline of the swift parrot has not gone unnoticed outside of Tasmania.
BirdLife Australia brought attention to the swift parrot’s plight by naming them the 2023 Bird of the Year, while actor and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio has posted to his Instagram audience of 62 million followers about the need to end native logging in Tasmania to prevent the species’ extinction.



(Latest Update March 22, 2024)

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