Australian night parrot killed by feral cat


This video from Australia says about itself:

3 July 2013

Thought to be extinct: Queensland bird enthusiast presents first photos of the elusive night parrot.

From the Birds Alive Newsletter, March 2015:

Feral cats versus Night Parrots

The latest twist in the rather secret story of the Night Parrot (Pezoporus occidentalis) is that a cat-killed individual has been found in an area of arid spinifex country SW of Winton, in W Queensland, close to where John Young photographed the species for the first time in May 2013.

Apparently, according to Queensland government sources, professional marksmen have been employed by a private conservation company to patrol the area at night with spotlights, shooting feral cats (Felis catus) on sight. The programme is funded by mining company Fortescue Metals, whose involvement dates back to the reported discovery of Night Parrots in a mineral exploration area in Western Australia in 2005. However, government agencies have been kept in the dark concerning the whereabouts of Night Parrots in Queensland, and the sites where the species occur are on a privately leased grazing property.

Feral cats have long been implicated in the decline of this once widespread species: in 1892, it was reported that ‘numerous’ parrots were killed by cats near Alice Springs. Some observers have noted increases in feral cat populations in recent years in parts of inland Australia. The region around Winton where the parrots occur has been drought-afflicted for several years.

Endangered Puerto Rican parrots released into the wild


This video says about itself:

19 March 2014

Get to know the Puerto Rican Parrot with Mr. Wizard.

From La Prensa in Puerto Rico:

15 Endangered Puerto Rican parrots released into the wild

22 January 2015

San Juan, Jan 22 (EFE). Fifteen Puerto Rican parrots were released into the wild to strengthen the critically endangered species, the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, or DRNA, said.

The release of the birds, also known as Puerto Rican amazons, in the Rio Abajo State Forest “is a crucial step in the program to restore this species,” DRNA Secretary Carmen Guerrero said.

“Each time we release birds, with the intention of increasing the number of parrots living in the wild, we advance step by step toward a not-so-distant future when the bird the Tainos (Puerto Rico‘s early inhabitants) called the iguaca may be taken off the list of species in danger of extinction,” she said.

The DRNA is in the process of preparing an additional 200 Puerto Rican to be released into the wild.

The most recent census found the number or Puerto Rican parrots living free in the Rio Abajo State Forest ranges between 50 and 100, with another group in the El Yunque National Park on the island’s northeastern coast.

The program to restore the species is led by DRNA, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the United States Forest Service.

Birds being trained for life in the wild must spend at least one year in cages large enough to allow flight. They are fed with fruits they will find in the wilderness and taught to recognize their natural predators.

Two Puerto Rican parrots were born in the wild last year in the Rio Abajo, an landmark achievement for the program.

Authorities estimate that Puerto Rico was home to more than 1 million Puerto Rican parrots in the 19th century. By the 1950s, their numbers had fallen to barely 200.

In 1968, the species was included in the U.S. federal endangered species list and the restoration program began in 1973 with a first center in El Yunque for reproduction in captivity.

A second center for reproduction in captivity was established in Rio Abajo in 1993.

The first release of a batch of Puerto Rican parrots took place in 2000 in El Yunque, followed in 2006 by a release in Rio Abajo.

Ring-necked parakeets in Rotterdam, video


This video is about ring-necked parakeets in Rotterdam city in the Netherlands.

Stefan Timmermans made the video.

Parakeet, jackdaws, wood pigeon feeding in garden


This video is about an escapee Australian ringneck parakeet, jackdaws, and a wood pigeon feeding in a garden.

C. van Leeuwen from the Netherlands made this video.

Australia’s crimson rosella parrots, beauty and disease


This video says about itself:

This morning’s delegation of Crimson Rosellas (Platycercus elegans) at Banksia Cottage, one of the Bunjaree Cottages near Wentworth Falls in the Blue Mountains, 100km west of Sydney, Australia.

From Wildlife Extra:

Colours of the Crimson Rosella parrot reveal a deadly secret

The crimson rosella parrot are [sic] immune to Beak and Feather Disease

The vibrant colours of Australia’s Crimson Rosella parrot might not in fact be quite as they seem. The colours covering its feathers could be the result of a virus that is known to kill other species.

A research team from Deakin’s Centre for Integrative Ecology (CIE) and School of Medicine carried out an eight-year study of the Crimson Rosella and subspecies across New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia.

The Beak and Feather Disease Virus that the Crimson Rosella carry around so proudly in the colour of their feathers is surprisingly deadly in other parrot species. As such, the Australian Government have listed the Beak and Feather Disease Virus as a key threat to biodiversity under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. Justin Eastwood, Deakin CIE PhD student who worked on the project, explains: “The virus is only found in parrots; it’s no danger to humans, but the danger it presents to parrots seems to vary from species to species and it can be pretty nasty.”

The results, which were published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA journal, could have important implications for managing disease in Australia’s unique wildlife. Project author and CIE researcher Dr Mathew Berg explains, “Our research results are not only good news for Crimson Rosellas, but we now have a good model species with which to study the disease, which is extremely important if we are to minimise its impact on the world’s parrot population.”

The research team aim to better understanding how disease and wildlife interact and co-evolve, and will be working with Zoos Victoria, the Geelong Centre for Emerging Infectious Disease, Charles Sturt University and Biosecurity Victoria to investigate disease ecology and conservation in Australian parrots.

See also here.

Parrots ‘teach’ tool use to others


This video says about itself:

Cockatoos learn to make and use a tool

2 September 2014

After a lone Goffin cockatoo figured out how to make and use a simple tool, others have learned the same trick by watching him.

From New Scientist about this:

Zoologger: Cockatoos learn to make and use a tool

03 September 2014 by Michael Marshall

Species: Cacatua goffiniana
Habitat: forests and farmland of a few small islands in Indonesia, problem solving like pros

“Drat, I’ve dropped my nut. It’s fallen out of my cage and I can’t reach it through the bars. What to do, what to do…

“Ooh, what’s Figaro up to? He’s got the same problem… He’s got a piece of wood and he’s breaking off a strip from it, oh and now he’s using it to pull the nut back into reach. I’ve got to try that… Right, got the strip, now to rake that nut in. Yes… Yes… Got it!”

This is a train of thought that most humans could pull off fairly easily, but the majority of animals couldn’t even attempt it. Not so the Goffin cockatoo, a popular pet bird that is proving to be surprisingly quick-thinking. After a lone Goffin cockatoo figured out how to make and use a simple tool, others have learned the same trick by watching him.

Give me my nut!

Goffin cockatoos are very intelligent. Last year it emerged that they can do sequential problem-solving: that is, complete a challenge in which a number of tasks have to be carried out in the right order.

The cockatoos were able to unpick a lock that had three elements. Only once the first element had been opened could the second one be opened, and only after that could they open the third. Five birds managed this with guidance or practice, but one pulled it off unassistedMovie Camera (PLoS One, doi.org/m5q).

Then there are the tools. In 2012, Alice Auersperg at the University of Vienna in Austria and her colleagues saw a captive male Goffin cockatoo called Figaro use a stick to try and retrieve a pebble that had fallen out of his cage. He didn’t succeed, but it suggested he knew how to use the stick as a tool.

So they presented him with a nut that was just out of reach beyond the bars of his cage and a large piece of wood. Figaro bit a large splinter out of the wood and used it to rake in the nut. He did this repeatedly (Current Biology, doi.org/vfr).

Do what I do

Now other Goffin cockatoos have picked up the trick, showing that they can learn from each other. Auersperg’s team allowed six cockatoos to watch Figaro use his splinter, while another six were shown control demonstrations in which either the tool or the food were made to move in a Figaro-like way using magnets.

Of the six birds that saw Figaro at work, three could then pick up and use a splinter to retrieve a nut – and two of these even worked out to make a splinter themselves by chewing one off a larger chunk of wood. None of the control birds managed to retrieve the nut.

The successful birds didn’t imitate Figaro’s technique, however. Instead of the raking motion he used, they used a sideways flick. This suggests they understood that the tool could be used to obtain the nut, and then used trial-and-error to figure out how.

Curiously, the three birds that learned how to use the tools were all males, and those that didn’t figure it out, even after watching Figaro many times, were all female. Given the small sample size that could just be a coincidence, but Auersperg says it could reflect a real difference. “I think the males are probably better at problem-solving,” she says. “They have to supply the females at the nest,” giving them an extra incentive to wise up.

It’s not clear why the cockatoos are so innovative, says Auersperg, but it may be because they live on small islands. “They are in a special situation with unpredictable resources,” she says, and that may have forced them to get smart. So far there are no reports of cockatoos making or using tools in the wild, but Auersperg says they haven’t been studied much. “Whether they use tools or not in the wild is the big question,” she says.

Journal reference: Proceedings of the Royal Society B, DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2014.0972

See also here.

Brazilian endangered parakeet new discovery


This video from Brazil, in Portuguese with English subtitles, is called Grey breasted parakeet Conservation Project – AQUASIS.

From BirdLife:

New population of Critically Endangered Parakeet Found in north-east Brazil

By Martin Fowlie, Tue, 12/08/2014 – 09:29

A team of young conservationists in Ceará state, north-east Brazil, has discovered a small population of five Grey-breasted Parakeet Pyrrhura griseipectus. Less than 200 of these parakeets are known to survive in the wild – all in Ceará state. These rare birds are listed as Critically Endangered by BirdLife on the IUCN Red List and face immediate threats such as trafficking for the pet trade and habitat destruction. The newly discovered birds represent the third remnant population of 15 populations which were previously known to exist – the other two existing in Serra do Baturité and Quixadá.

The team, employed by Brazilian NGO Aquasis, was granted a Conservation Leadership Programme (CLP) Future Conservationist Awardin 2012. CLP funding allowed the team to conduct several research expeditions with the aim of finding new populations and improving knowledge about the parakeet’s range.

“Last year, as part of our CLP-funded project we found clues suggesting the presence of this species in an isolated mountain, and it was only in March that we were able to confirm and document the finding”, said Fabio Nunes, project leader. “This discovery could be a new hope to add to the existing conservation efforts led by Aquasis and its partners.

Usually, the Grey-breasted Parakeet lives in tropical forests, nesting inside tree hollows. Yet on this occasion, the five individuals were found in a nest located in a small cavity on top of a rocky mountain, above dry vegetation known locally as Caatinga.

The discovery of new populations is excellent news, but the Grey-breasted Parakeet faces an uphill struggle. Having been left in isolation for so long, the genetic make-up of the new  population may be different enough to suggest that uniting populations may be problematic and risky.

The team is now writing a scientific paper to emphasise the importance of this discovery for the survival of the Grey-breasted Parakeet. Future conservation efforts will focus on environmental education, and direct species and habitat conservation activities led by Aquasis and supported by CLP, BirdLife International and other donors.

Aquasis are also the BirdLife Species Guardian for Araripe Manakin and have been supported by Species Champion Sir David Attenborough through the BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme.

The Conservation Leadership Programme (CLP) is a partnership between BirdLife InternationalFauna & Flora InternationalConservation International, the Wildlife Conservation Society and BP

All is well, until the last word of this press release: BP. BP, the oil corporation notorious for killing birds and other wildlife by its pollution, uses this laudable program for greenwashing.