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.

Ring-necked parakeet eats apple, video


In this video, a ring-necked parakeet eats an apple. Until a blackbird arrives …

Monique Smulders made this video in Alphen aan den Rijn in the Netherlands on 18 January 2016.

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.

More migratory bird conservation needed


This video says about itself:

Red-spectacled Parrot, Amazona pretrei

13 June 2013

Every year thousands of Red-spectacled Parrots migrate to Urupema, Santa Catarina in southern Brazil, where they congregate in austral autumn and winter between March and July, providing one of the most amazing nature phenomena.

From BirdLife:

World failing to protect its migratory birds

By Ade Long, Thu, 03/12/2015 – 19:10

A new study published in Science has called for a greater international collaborative effort to save the world’s migratory birds, many of which are at risk of extinction due to loss of habitat along their flight paths.

More than 90 per cent of the world’s migratory birds are inadequately protected due to poorly coordinated conservation around the world.

The research, which included using BirdLife International’s data on migratory bird distributions and Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs), found huge gaps in the conservation of migratory birds, particularly across China, India, and parts of Africa and South America. This results in the majority of migratory birds having ranges that are well covered by protected areas in one country, but poorly protected in another.

Major declines

“More than half of migratory bird species travelling the world’s main flyways have suffered serious population declines in the past 30 years. This is due mainly to unequal and ineffective protection across their migratory range and the places they stop to refuel along their routes,” says lead author Dr Claire Runge of Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED) and the University of Queensland (UQ).

“A typical migratory bird relies on many different geographic locations throughout its annual cycle for food, rest and breeding. So even if we protect most of their breeding grounds, it’s still not enough – threats somewhere else can affect the entire population,” she says. “The chain can be broken at any link.”

Remarkable journeys

Co-author Dr James Watson of CEED and UQ explains that these birds undertake remarkable journeys navigating across land and sea to find refuge as the seasons change, from endurance flights exceeding 10,000 kilometres by Bar-tailed Godwits to the annual relay of Arctic Terns, which fly the equivalent of the distance to the moon and back three times during their lives.

Other examples include the Sooty Shearwater which flies 64,000 kilometres from the Falkland Islands/Islas Malvinas to the Arctic, and the tiny Blackpoll Warbler, which flies for three days non-stop across open-ocean from eastern Canada to South America.

Inadequate protection

The CEED study found that of 1,451 migratory bird species, 1,324 had inadequate protection for at least one part of their migration pathway. Eighteen species had no protection in their breeding areas and two species had no protection at all along their whole route.

For migratory bird species listed as threatened on the IUCN Red List by BirdLife International, less than three per cent have sufficient protected areas. “For example, the Red-spectacled Amazon—a migratory parrot of Brazil—is threatened by habitat loss,” says Dr Stuart Butchart, Head of Science at BirdLife International and a co-author of the study. “And yet less than four per cent of its range is protected, and almost none of its seasonal breeding areas in southern Brazil are covered.”

IBAs need more protection

The team also examined over 8,200 Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas that have been identified as internationally important locations for migratory bird populations. They found that just 22 per cent are completely protected, and 41 per cent only partially overlap with protected areas.

“Establishing new reserves to protect the unprotected sites – and more effectively managing all protected areas for migratory species – is critical to ensure the survival of these iconic species,” Dr Butchart adds.

Joined up conservation needed for migratory species

Co-author Associate Professor Richard Fuller of CEED says the results highlight an urgent need to coordinate protected area designation along the birds’ full migration route: “For instance, Germany has protected areas for over 98 per cent of the migratory species that pass its borders, but fewer than 13 per cent of its species are adequately protected across their global range.

“It isn’t just a case of wealthy nations losing their migratory birds to a lack of protection in poorer nations. Many Central American countries, for example, meet the targets for more than 75 per cent of their migratory species, but these same species have less protected area coverage in Canada and USA.”

While protected areas are usually designated by each country, collaborative international partnerships and inter-governmental coordination as well as action are crucial to safeguard the world’s migratory birds.

“It won’t matter what we do in Australia or in Europe if these birds are losing their habitat somewhere else – they will still perish. We need to work together far more effectively round the world if we want our migratory birds to survive into the future,” Dr Fuller says.

More information:

The study “Protected areas and global conservation of migratory birds” by Claire Runge, James Watson, Stuart Butchart, Jeffrey Hanson, Hugh Possingham and Richard Fuller is published in Science.

The study was led by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED).