2021 marks a significant milestone for the Saving Our Superb Parrot project. Over the past three years Greening Australia, its partners and private landholders have enhanced or restored 1,040 hectares of land to bolster Superb Parrot habitat by direct seeding over 100 kilos of native seed and planting 40,000 new trees and shrubs. For landowners, the revegetation has established windbreaks, shade and shelter for livestock and will attract more bird life to the farm.
Where was the work done?
In the Riverina, the largest population of Superb Parrots breed along the Murrumbidgee River from Wagga Wagga west to Carrathool, with the majority of known nest sites located in the River Red Gums of the Murrumbidgee Valley National Park. Breeding birds forage in woodlands up to 10 km from the nesting sites, and after breeding, the parents and fledglings move further afield (up to 30 km or more). This post-fledging period is thought to be a critical time for the survival of newly independent young birds, who disperse over a wide area but lack experience in finding and making use of foraging locations. Native shrubs such as wattles, hop bush and senna produce abundant seed which Superb Parrots feed on during late spring and summer. Re-establishing these plants at scale was one of the key goals of the project.
Monitoring of the tubestock and direct seeding shows an average of 73% survival for hand planted trees and shrubs, and roughly 41 seedlings per 100 metres of direct seeding – which over 580 km of seeding is a lot of new shrubs across the parrots’ range!
In 2019 and 2020 the Superb Day Out annual census was held in Murrumbidgee Valley National Park and surrounds. The annual bird count helps to understand the size and composition of the population and activity around nesting sites. Each November, approximately 20 volunteers (a diverse mix of locals, researchers, and members of field naturalist or bird groups) meet in Darlington Point, before setting out to pre-determined locations along the River. The surveys consist of sitting in a fixed location for 1-2 hours, and recording all the Superb Parrots present in the area.
Parrot numbers were similar between the two years, with an average of 9.4 birds/hour across all sites in 2019, and 11.6 birds/hour in 2020. Surveys of all our revegetation sites in 2020 yielded similar results, with an average of 10.5 birds/hour. Hopefully the future for this charismatic little green and gold bird is looking brighter thanks to the collective hard work of many individuals.
Funding and partners
This project was funded by the NSW Government’s Saving Our Species Program, Officeworks and the NSW Environmental Trust. Greening Australia would also like to acknowledge the support from partners at NSW DPIE, Coleambally Irrigation, Murrumbidgee Landcare, Crown Lands, Riverina Local Land Services, private landowners and countless volunteers who contributed their time.
More information and get involved
If you would like to get involved and have areas on your farm you would like to revegetate for livestock or wildlife, please register your interest with Greening Australia.
More information on the project is available here.
This article was written by Graham Fifield and Lucy Wenger, from Greening Australia. You can contact Lucy at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 0439 030 059.