Kākā parrots, welcome back in Wellington, New Zealand?


This video says about itself:

Kaka, New Zealand Parrot. Hear its various calls

12 August 2015

Kaka –Stewart Island, New Zealand. Very ‘talkative’ – love their calls.

Many years ago, I was privileged to see and hear kākā parrots, on a small sanctuary island just south of Stewart Island.

From BirdLife:

Return of Kākā to Wellington sparks controversy

By Mike Britton, 31 May 2016

Do city dwellers really want a return of wild species to the areas they once lived? It is a question being asked in many places, especially where some of the species moving back can conflict with the new inhabitants. In Wellington the impact of species reintroduced to the region by the Zealandia Sanctuary and the noise and ‘damage’ they can cause is creating controversy.

For most of the twentieth Century the birdlife in New Zealand’s cities mainly consisted of species European settlers brought with them, plus a few that got here by themselves from Australia. And they were mainly species that could survive the predation of other imports like rats and stoats and possums. Indigenous species like tui and New Zealand pigeon only survived on the city edges and were rare and special sightings for most people.

When I was in New Zealand then, I was lucky to see a New Zealand pigeon in a patch of forest just outside Wellington.

But the control of possums in and around cities and more areas where rat and other invasive pest control created safer neighborhoods for birds tipped the balance and allowed some like tuis to move back into urban places. The establishment of predator free sanctuaries was also a huge factor in providing safe places for species to be re-introduced to places from which they had largely disappeared. In Auckland the restoration and removal of invasive predators from islands in the Hauraki Gulf and also in the regional parks was the catalyst. This includes New Zealand BirdLife partner Forest & Bird’s hugely successful Ark in the Park, an area of almost 3000 ha, where invasive predators are controlled by its volunteers.

But in the capital, Wellington, the big tipping point was the establishment, 25 years ago, of the Zealandia Karori Sanctuary in a water catchment valley and its fencing with a predator-proof fence. This has transformed the bird life of the city. Species that now can call Wellington home include Hihi (Stitchbird), Kakariki (Red crowned parakeet), Tieke (saddleback), Takahe and Little Spotted Kiwi. Some prosper only behind the safety of the fence but combined with the possum control by the regional council and the big upswing in public and private predator control in Wellington generally, other species are spreading out from their secure base, and even starting to nest and fledge young.

Cats have been identified as a major threat to these species reclaiming their heritage habitats, in some cases, for the first time in over 100 years. There is now debate in Wellington over how cats are managed (and controlled) with limits on cat numbers and compulsory chipping, to identify pets from wild cats, are all some of the (controversial) ideas being considered by the Wellington City Council. Creating a halo around Zealandia, where predator control is extended, is another idea actively being promoted in the community.

But is the re-invasion of long gone birds to their historical habitats always welcomed by the new residents? When tui came back Forest & Bird regularly got calls from the public asking it to “control its noisy birds”. And they are noisy – one of the most beautiful songs.

This video says about itself:

Tui song

31 May 2014

New Zealand native tuis, native wood pigeon (kereru) and waxeyes (tauhou) in Purakaunui near Dunedin.

The BirdLife article continues:

But the latest controversy is about the impact of one of the magic parrots of New Zealand, the Kākā Nestor meridionalis septentrionalis. Kākā are a large, olive-brown forest parrot and is a ‘cousin’ to the alpine parrot, kea, a bird about which almost every visitor to New Zealand’s South Island alpine areas will have tales to tell.

Kākā have a loud call and also some beautiful songs and whistles. The word kākā can mean ‘screech’ in Māori. Kākā had effectively been extinct in Wellington since the early 20th century until they were transferred back into the wild at Zealandia in 2002.

From just 6 birds there is now a population of over 200 birds. But like their alpine cousins, Kākā can be mischievous and target exotic trees like pines and eucalypts. Kākā will tear bark off these trees looking to feed on insects and sap – and maybe just for fun. They like fruit too! Potential opponents note that now Wellington is once again becoming a suitable place for previously locally extinct birds to reclaim, what is the future? Potentially these populations will continue to grow and with some aspirational goals for controlling invasive predators, in the future more and more indigenous species may once again be wanting to share our cities with us. A kiwi in every garden is one of the (very) long term aims of the ‘save the kiwi’ campaign.

This raises many questions about our interaction with wildlife, our responsibilities and their rights. And in places where there are indigenous people with a long history of their own in the interaction with them – yes for food but also in their cultural context – their views are a critical part of the discussion. As conservationists we have a responsibility to be advocates for the birds and other animals when they start to return to places where we once were responsible for their loss. It’s their home and we need to share. But we need to be active in educating, informing and helping minimize conflict where we can.

Whisky protects Polynesian parrots


This video says about itself:

Rimatara Lorikeet and other birds on Atiu, Cook Islands

Rimatara Lorikeet – found only on Rimatara (Tubuai Islands), Kiribati, Atiu (Cook Islands)
Rarotongan Fruit-dove – found only on Rarotonga and Atiu (Cook Islands)
Rarotongan Flycatcher – found only on Rarotonga and Atiu (Cook Islands)
Chattering Kingfisher – found only in Society Islands and Cook Islands

Videos, photography and sound recording by Philip Griffin, April 2014 – Atiu, Cook Islands

From BirdLife:

Whisky protects lorikeets in French Polynesia

By Caroline Blanvillan, 27 May 2016

Invasive alien predators, especially rats, are the biggest threat to the birds of the Pacific region. Their spread across the Pacific has followed the movements of people, particularly Europeans, over the last two centuries. These invaders, as they “stepped off the boat”, heralded the beginning of the decline of many bird species.

Today, the Pacific region has 42 bird species that are classified as Critically Endangered, a quarter of the world’s total of such species.

BirdLife and its Pacific Partners have already cleared 40 islands of invasive species: the recovery of previously declining species on these islands has been spectacular. It is one of two actions that can ensure the continuing survival of species. The second, which is also the most cost effective option, is to prevent invaders from arriving in the first place.

In both cases, biosecurity is the essential component. Moreover, it makes good economic sense both for places that invasive predators not yet reached and those from which they have been removed. While this seems like simple common sense, in places where boats are vital to everyday life, an opportunistic rat will always try to catch a lift. It only takes a romantic couple or a pregnant individual and a new invasion will start.

So, prevention is not an easy task. Yet, in island communities, especially those sometimes hundreds of kilometres across the sea from the main resources, local people are the key defenders against predator invasions: they need every tool they can find to help them.

With the help of a generous grant from the Prince Bernhard Nature Fund, the Société d’Ornithologie de Polynésie (SOP Manu, BirdLife in French Polynesia) and the local associations on Ua Huka and Rimatara islands are putting in place biosecurity measures to protect these precious places.  To help them, Dora and Whisky, two Jack Russell terriers bred and trained in New Zealand, were imported to try to detect any stowaway rats or other invaders.

Are they effective?  In the eight months since Whisky has been on rat patrol on Rimatara, three rats have been detected, the most recent one already dead.  This demonstrates the elevated risk of re-invasions.  The potential is real and conservationists are not merely crying wolf!

Did Whisky miss any invaders?  To test how good our ”super hero” really is, SOP Manu’s Caroline Blanvillain hid the skin of a rat in a cargo going out to Rimatara and waited to see if the protocol of inspection now in place on the Rimatara wharves was effective.

The result: one rat skin and one dead rat in another package were detected.  This proves the importance of the biosecurity and the need for adequate resources to be available to local communities in order to continue this essential work.   The cost is small when compared with the tens of thousands, possibly millions, of dollars that would be needed to remove the rats if they invaded successfully.

The islands of Rimatara and Ua Haka are last refuges of three of the most beautiful and rare lorikeets in the world; the Endangered Ultramarine Vini ultramarina and Rimatara Lorikeets V. kuhlii and the Vulnerable Blue Lorikeet V. peruviana.  All three owe their survival to the fact that rats have not yet got to these isolated islands.  Rimatara is also the potential site for the establishment of a second Tahiti Monarch Pomarea nigra population.

These are precious places.  We owe a big thank you to the Prince Bernhard Nature Fund and the dedicated local communities and Site Support Groups for keeping them safe.

Parrots are most-threatened bird group


This video is called Parrots: Majestic Birds (Nature Documentary).

From BirdLife:

Study identifies parrots as most-threatened bird group

By Ed Parnell, Thu, 18/02/2016 – 22:50

Scientists, including staff from BirdLife International and the Australian National University, have published new research indicating that parrots (Psittaciformes) are among the most threatened groups of bird species, with 28% of extant species (111 out of 398) classified as globally threatened on the IUCN Red List.

On average, the study confirms that parrots are more threatened than comparable groups of birds (including seabirds, pigeons and raptors). Parrots with a small historical distribution (for instance, those found on islands), large body size, a long generation time, and a dependency on forest habitats, are more likely to be threatened. Large-bodied birds tend to have low population densities and are more at risk from human hunters, while forest parrots are overwhelmingly tree-cavity nesters, meaning that primary forest destruction has a severe impact on the availability of their nesting sites and consequent reproductive success.

“This study confirms that, as a whole, parrots face a higher rate of extinction than any other comparable bird group. Indeed, 56% of all parrot species are in decline. They face a wide range of threats, but loss and degradation of forest habitat, agricultural expansion, and hunting and trapping – parrots are the most common bird group reported in the wildlife trade – are all major factors. However, this study identifies conservation priorities for these attractive, intelligent birds – which have beguiled and fascinated humans since we first set eyes upon them – and offers a way to prevent more species following the Carolina Parakeet and Paradise Parrot into extinction,” said Dr Stuart Butchart, Head of Science at BirdLife International.

The study found that the following 10 countries are the highest priority for parrot conservation: Indonesia, Brazil, Australia, Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Papua New Guinea, Venezuela, and Mexico. The most common actions needed in the Neotropics (Central and South America) are site protection and management, with improved legislation and ex-situ conservation a priority in Africa, and greater awareness and site/habitat protection a priority in South-east Asia and Oceania.

The severity of extinction risk (rising from Vulnerable to Critically Endangered) is also positively related to the per head gross domestic product (GDP) of the countries of occurrence, with more-developed economies tending to have higher rates of urbanisation and a consequent increased pressure on remaining parrot habitat.

Interestingly, and perhaps counter-intuitively, the study also found that the risk of extinction is lower for those parrot species widely held in captivity as pets, backing up recent studies that show that the vast majority of species within the domestic and international bird trade are non-threatened. This is largely thought to be because most parrot poachers concentrate on species that are more readily available and easier to catch. However, illegal trade is rapidly driving a number of species towards extinction.

Dead parrots: a sad lesson from history

A total of 14 of the 16 parrot species BirdLife officially classifies on the IUCN Red List as Extinct were restricted to islands, and disappeared following the arrival of Europeans from the mid-17th century onwards. The two exceptions are: Carolina Parakeet Conuropsis carolinensis, a North American species that was wiped out by human persecution and deforestation, with the last known bird, a captive male, dying in Cincinnati Zoo in 1918; in Australia (south-eastern Queensland), the Paradise Parrot Psephotellus pulcherrimus, a grassland specialist that nested in termite mounds, had its last confirmed sighting in 1928.

The study (‘Ecological and socio-economic factors affecting extinction risk in parrots’) is published in the Feb 2016 issue of the journal Biodiversity Conservation.

Monk parakeets build nest in New York


This video from the USA says about itself:

26 January 2016

A pair of Monk Parakeets builds a stick nest in New York. It may come as a surprise to see noisy, green-and-gray parrots racing through North American cities. But Monk Parakeets, native to South America, have been long popular in the pet trade, and established wild populations in the U.S. in the 1960s.

Ghana’s grey parrots in danger


This video says about itself:

African Grey Parrots in the Wild

23 June 2008

Grey Parrots (Psittacus erythacus) foraging and flying in Cameroon, Africa.

From BirdLife:

Ghana’s Grey Parrot population may soon cease to exist

By Kariuki Ndang’ang’a, Mon, 11/01/2016 – 08:08

In the last two decades Ghana has lost 90-99% of its Grey Parrot (Psittacus erithacus) population. This is according to a recently published study by a team of researchers from Ghana and the United Kingdom associated to Manchester Metropolitan University and BirdLife International.

The population decline of the Grey Parrot, a heavily traded bird species, is evidenced by among others, the near-total loss of the major roosts known in 1992. Further evidence indicates an almost a ten-fold reduction in bird encounter rates observed in the 1990s compared to 2014, as well as the perceptions of 96% of the almost a thousand residents that were interviewed during the study.

“Dedicated searching, including visits to roosts which previously had as many as 1,200 individuals 20 years ago, yielded just a handful of Grey Parrot sightings”, said Nathaniel Annorbah, a Ghanaian graduate student of the Manchester Metropolitan University, and the lead author of the scientific paper published in Ibis an international journal of avian science.

“Grey Parrot populations in Ghana have declined catastrophically and the species is now very rare across the country”, added Dr Nigel Collar from BirdLife International.

The authors of the paper titled, ‘Trade and habitat change virtually eliminate the Grey Parrot Psittacus erithacus from Ghana’, attributes the population decline to four main factors: trade, overall forest reduction, silvicultural practices and farmland timber harvesting.

Illegal trade must surely have contributed to the post-1990 declines that we report. This is affirmed by the fact that in the years 1991–2012 when trade was outlawed and Ghana’s reported exports of Grey Parrots totaled just 35 individuals, the population in the country still declined by 95%”, emphasized Dr Stuart Marsden from Manchester Metropolitan University.

“After a successful campaign to ban the trade in Grey Parrots lead by the Wildlife clubs of Ghana, the junior wing of Ghana Wildlife society this comes as a great disappointment”, observes Mr Japheth Roberts of Ghana Wildlife society (GWS, BirdLife Partner in Ghana). “However, it shows us that there are challenges associated with sustaining conservation action and impact over the long term. Having achieved success before, this is the time for GWS and its partners to hit the ground running to arrest and reverse the catastrophic collapse of Grey parrots in Ghana”, he adds.

The situation for Grey Parrot is not only grim in Ghana, but in most of the West Africa region. “Lack of evidence from this and other studies that any Grey Parrot populations in the West Africa region are healthy, suggest that trade in the species must surely be ruled out in the region”, observes Kariuki Ndang’ang’a, the BirdLife Africa Team Leader for Species Science.

In fact the authors question whether indeed there should be any further trade in much of mainland Central Africa as well. The IUCN Red List classification of both Grey Parrots, and especially the much smaller-ranged Timneh Parrot (Psittacus timneh) clearly requires re-evaluating.

In 2013/14, the Africa Secretariat of BirdLife International and CITES supported stakeholders in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of Congo and Côte d’Ivoire to draft national management plans  for the Grey Parrot, as well as update an existing one for Cameroon. These management plans including methods for monitoring populations and trade in the species must be implemented without delays.

Record ring-necked parakeet numbers in Haarlem city


This is a video from India about a nest of rose-ringed parakeets (Psittacula krameri), also known as ring-necked parakeets.

The Vogelwerkgroep Zuid-Kennemerland in the Netherlands reports about their counting of ring-necked parakeets in Haarlem. All these birds sleep in two trees along the Amerikavaart canal.

On Saturday 19 December, around sunset, 783 parakeets were counted. A record number for this species in Haarlem in winter. In January 2014, 638 birds had been counted.

When a sparrowhawk (a bird of prey, roughly the same size as the parakeets) flew near a tree, it did not really upset the ring-necked parakeets. Only five birds started flying to drive the sparrowhawk away.

However, when a goshawk, a bigger bird of prey, appeared, all parakeets started flying, and it took them ten minutes to settle again.