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. Since 2018, between 24 and 36 captive-bred adults have been released at Melaleuca each Spring, and up to 50 captive-bred juveniles have been released each Summer.
Wild releases in Tasmania currently fall into two 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 of returned birds.
Juvenile Release: The aim of the juvenile release is to increase the speed of the OBP population recovery. This stems from the idea that the younger the bird, the less habituated it is to life in captivity, and the more capacity it has to learn wild behaviours from the wild birds at Melaleuca prior to its migration north. Captive bred juvenile birds have a lower migration return rate than wild
but significantly higher that captive bred adults.
Before the release of captive-bred birds to the wild, veterinarians assess physical condition and screen birds for diseases, parasites and pathogens.
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 working with the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service to implement an ecological burn program to improve OBP foraging habit for future breeding seasons.
Additional projects are underway with funding provided through the Australian Government's Regional Land Partnerships Program. These include:
Expanding nest box availability into suitable OBP nesting habitat surrounding Melaleuca.
Examining the impact of fire on OBP food plant availability and making recommendations regarding future burning activities.
Identifing a new location within the OBP breeding range suitable as a second potential reintroduction site.
Renovating aging OBP infrastructure at Melaleuca including the release aviaries and feed tables.
There is still a long way to go, but the Tasmanian Government is committed to supporting the complex and innovative efforts to save the OBP.
Supplementary food is provided to OBPs at their breeding ground. Photo: NRE Tas