Bridie Smith -Apr 10, 2012
Endangered … eastern regent parrots ''commute'' between mallee vegetation, where they feed, and red gums, where they breed. Photo: Chris Field
THREATENED parrots that are extremely particular about the real estate they call home have had a recovery program approved for them, as three states combine with the federal government to stall their sliding numbers.
The eastern regent parrot, which numbers just 1500 breeding pairs in the wild, lives in the lower Murray-Darling region of South Australia, NSW and Victoria. The brightly coloured parrot flies between its riverine home and the mallee woodlands, up to 15 kilometres away, where it feeds.
The co-author of the five-year national recovery plan, Victor Hurley, said the species' specific habitat requirements were part of the reason its numbers had declined so much. In NSW, where it is listed as endangered, there are just 600 breeding pairs.
''They like to feed on mallee vegetation but breed in red gums, so they have this funny kind of commuter lifestyle where they keep on going backwards and forwards,'' he said.
Mr Hurley, a Department of Sustainability and Environment biodiversity officer, said that during the spring breeding season some birds travelled the route up to five times a day.
Vital for these frequent flyers are corridors of vegetation, which make them less vulnerable to predators. Often, the fly-ways used are roads with trees along their edges.
Mr Hurley said the recovery plan, effectively a road map for recovering the species, would allow the department to go to councils with a nationally registered document highlighting the importance of roadside habitat to the species.
First drafted in 2004, the plan devised by Victoria, NSW, South Australia and supported by the federal government identifies three critical habitat requirements for the species: the large river red gums, mallee woodlands and tree corridors between the two habitats.
Studies have shown the parrots' breeding range has declined significantly in the past century due to land clearing.
Mr Hurley said the recovery plan represented a national approach to a species which was blind to state borders. This encouraged the states to share information and funding.