The Orange-bellied Parrot Tasmanian Program is committed to the protection, monitoring and management of the Orange-bellied Parrot (OBP) in Tasmania. As part of the Tasmanian State Government, we provide an authoritative and up-to-date source of information on the status of the OBP in Tasmania.
Working together with the National Recovery Team and volunteers, the OBP Tasmanian Program undertakes a range of activities to assist with the survival of the species in the wild.
About the program
The cornerstone of population recovery efforts has been
the release of captive-bred birds to supplement the wild population and
boost breeding and fledging success in the wild. The Tasmanian Government committed $2.5 million to deliver a fit-for-purpose captive breeding facility at Five Mile Beach, which officially opened in July 2019. The facility allows for birds to be bred to add to the captive insurance population and for release into the wild. This new facility enabled the Program to double its captive breeding capacity to 48 breeding pairs.
As a result of the increased breeding capacity at the Department of Natural Resources and Environment Tasmania's (NRE Tas) new facility, the program has been able to increase the number of captive-bred releases into the wild. The numbers of adult-bred birds released in the spring has grown from an average of 22 birds over 2013 – 2017, to 44 released in 2018 and 49 in 2019. Additionally, up to 55 Juveniles are planned for release in February 2020, potentially taking the total captive-bred releases during the 2019-2020 season to over 100 birds.
Wild releases in Tasmania currently fall into three categories:
Adult Spring Release at Melaleuca: this supplementation increases the number of breeding pairs at Melaleuca (the only breeding site for OBPs) and balances the sex ratio, which prevents extinction in the wild.
Adult Spring Release at New Harbour: this reintroduction aims to increase the size and extent of the Tasmanian breeding population and trial methods of release at more locations, to allow us to build towards a release strategy that can minimise the risks associated with a single breeding site.
Juvenile Release: The aim of the juvenile release is to determine whether age affects migration success in captive-released birds. This stems from the idea that the younger the release bird the less habituated it is to life in captivity, the more adaptable it is and the more capacity it has to learn wild behaviours from the wild birds at Melaleuca prior to its migration north.
Before the release of captive-bred birds to the wild, veterinarians screen birds for disease and pathogens. All wild nestlings are also tested for beak and feather disease virus to monitor the prevalence and impact of this virus on the wild population.
NRE Tas undertakes close monitoring of the wild population and captive-bred releases in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA), by providing artificial nest boxes and supplementary food, mitigating threats, releasing captive-bred birds and implementing a Parks and Wildlife Service led ecological burn program to improve the OBP foraging habit for future breeding seasons.
There is still a long way to go, but the Tasmanian Government is committed to supporting the complex and innovative efforts to save the Orange-bellied Parrot.
Supplementary food is provided to Orange-bellied Parrots at their breeding ground. Photo: NRE Tas