Environment Concern: Save Trees to Save Parrots

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The most beautiful and celebrated parrots, the South African Cape parrots are becoming the endangered species like many other creatures. Their numbers are reducing so fast that scientists concern in future they’ll be just stories, once lived on this earthen world. The Cape Gold parrots enlightened many forests, specially “Yellowwood” forests are dying without proper food or proper reproduction. The human society is flourishing at alarming rate influencing normal habitat of many creatures along with birds. Scientists say, we need to save trees to save these parrots.

According to the explorers only 800 to 1000 parrots are left on that forest regions and the left ones are not healthy enough. The Cape parrots really struggle to survive.

National Geographic Emerging Explorer Steve Boyes is trying to pull the Cape parrot back from the brink of oblivion.

Boyes has a plan to restore the endemic yellowwood forests that once flourished across a wide swath of the southern tip of Africa, giving the parrots and other species that depend on the trees a chance to rebound. The plan involves many local communities that also stand to benefit from the return of the forests. It’s a strategy in which villagers, parrots, and yellowwood trees share a healthy ecosystem for the benefit of all. He is even organizing “naming” ceremony of baby parrots to attract children and teens that they try to save the parrots. Boyes himself learns village customs to cooperate villagers with him. He thinks, birds have great role on our ecosystem and we must not ignore them. Losing birds is truly an environmental concern we have to cope up with.

They want those forests back, especially as they watched them being torn apart during the years of apartheid by companies exploiting them and not sharing the proceeds with the local communities. The older people have stories and traditions about their forests. Some are concerned to save the parrots.

The Cape parrot is the only parrot endemic to South Africa. It is the most beautiful parrot in South Africa. It’s green and gold, the colors of South Africa’s national athletic teams. We need a national sports team to adopt the Cape parrot as its mascot, like rugby has the springbok. It’s as simple as that in conservation; if people care about it, good things will start happening. And finally we’ll be able to restore and save trees along with parrots.

Cape parrots have survived the destruction of their ecosystem even while many other species of the ancient yellowwood forests have disappeared. An ancient bird that has survived all that’s happened must be very special. Of course we must try to save them.

We must take it a plus point that beak and feather infections among the birds are coming down. If they get a bit care from all, the decreasing concern should be prevented. We have already lost many species, we don’t want to lose such colorful chirpy friends.

We need support, financial and otherwise, to reestablish the forests. Only NGO is doing this. The government is not doing this. We all need to join hands to restore our trees and parrots.

We have to bring these forests back, and with them the parrots and other animals that depend on the trees. It is really a dream is to see flocks of a thousand parrots or more flying over reestablished forests. So we must save trees to save parrots, most chirpy, colored friends ever!!

Source:

Jayeeta Shamsul
http://guardianlv.com/2013/06/environment-concern-save-trees-to-save-parrots/

Flocks of native Australian birds face extinction

BIRDS of a feather no longer necessarily flock together.

The orange-bellied parrot is one of the world's most endangered birds. Picture: Jane Ollerenshaw Source: Leader

The orange-bellied parrot is one of the world’s most endangered birds. Picture: Jane Ollerenshaw Source: Leader

The King Island and Kangaroo Island emus are extinct as is the vinous-tinted thrush.

Australia has 828 bird species, 45 per cent of which are found nowhere else.

Our isolation has helped the proliferation of unusual birds, from tiny honeyeaters to the flightless emu that stands at almost 2m.

Add to that a diverse range of waterbirds, seabirds, open woodlands and forest dwellers, colourful cockatoos and budgies, enchanting cassowaries, black swans, fairy penguins, kookaburras, lyrebirds and currawongs, plus 55 species of parrots, and we have an eclectic mix.

But, sadly, 23 of our bird species are extinct.

Even our state bird emblem, the helmeted honeyeater, is critically endangered, as are five others, while 44 are endangered, and 61 are vulnerable.

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Melbourne Zoo is breeding the regent honeyeaters while Healesville Sanctuary has captive breeding programs for the helmeted honeyeater and the orange-bellied parrot.

Dr Melanie Lancaster, assistant curator of threatened species at Healesville Sanctuary, says it has been fighting extinction of both species for a long time – since 1989 for the Helmeted Honeyeater and 1994, for the orange-bellied parrot.

“With successful captive breeding we hope to be able to boost the population in the wild,” Dr Lancaster says.

REGENT HONEYEATER

The soft, metallic chiming call of the regent honeyeater (Anthochaera phrygia) is now a rare sound.

It once rang out along the eastern coast of Australia, from Brisbane to Adelaide.

They live in dry box-ironbark eucalypt woodlands and forests, and favour the most fertile areas along river valleys and flats. They feed on the nectar of flowering eucalypts, as well as some invertebrates and lerps.

The highly mobile regent honeyeaters began to decline in 1940s and are no longer found in southwest Victoria. They are probably extinct in South Australia due to habitat destruction.

Melbourne Zoo is breeding regent honeyeaters to help with the recovery of this species.

HELMETED HONEYEATER

This is our state emblem and yet there are less than 70 left of this songbird with black, yellow and olive plumage.

Otherwise known as Lichenostomus melanops cassidix, they are unmissable.

Their crowning glory are beautiful, bright yellow caps of yellow feathers.

They love damp, swampy forests and have suffered during the recent drought.

Dr Lancaster says the small population is still struggling to grow, so Healesville supplements it annually with birds bred there.

“This year we have 14 recruits ready to be released in spring,” he says.

“Helmeted honeyeaters rely on a dense shrub and sedge understory, and are threatened by the die-back of eucalypt and paperbark trees in their stream-side habitat.”

ORANGE-BELLIED PARROT

Neophema chrysogaster, or the orange-bellied parrot, is one of the world’s most endangered birds with only around 30 individuals remaining in the wild.

As the species teeters on the brink of extinction, there’s an insurance policy in the offing. A further 160-170 birds are part of a captive breeding program at Healesville Sanctuary, Adelaide Zoo and Taroona in Tasmania.

Dr Lancaster says despite being small, and weighing only 45-50g, these parrots make an incredible journey across Bass Strait, between southwest Tasmania and the Victorian and South Australian coasts, each year.

They spend winter on the mainland and return to Tasmania to breed.

The captive population is an extremely valuable backstop against complete extinction.

One of only three migratory parrot species in the world, it’s at risk of extinction in the next 3-5 years unless urgent action is taken.

This year, Healesville Sanctuary has bred another 31 birds to add to the tally.

Source: heraldsun.com.au

Rescuing South Africa’s Endangered Cape Parrot

“One more bird saved from disease… One more place to call home… With less than 1,000 adult Cape parrots left in the wild, Dr Steve Boyes has to make conservation count. From rehabilitating parrots with a devastating disease to building nest sites in their increasingly degraded natural habitat, he puts his heart and soul into an otherwise scientific enterprise. These colorful parrots are one of the world’s most endangered species, but Boyes hopes they can bounce back with the help of a team of scientists and volunteers.”
© National Geographic Missions Media


As with most wild parrots, the story of the Cape parrot of South Africa, is a tale of people and parrot over many generations… We have been fascinated by parrots, their colors, characters and voices. for thousands of years. A longtime ago in prehistory the ancestors of today’s Cape parrot Poicephalus robustus specialized their behavior and physiology to depend almost entirely on Outeniqua yellowwood trees for sustenance and nest cavities.

They did this because for millions of years there were vast yellowwood forests covering the southern and eastern coastlines of South Africa all the way into Mozambican and Malawian highlands. Back then the parrots thrived in a forest paradise free of undue threat. Their only long-term concern was the slow grind of climate change, which saw these mighty forests slowly retreat to form important forest refugia in the high mountains and sheltered escarpments of South Africa.

Forest specialists like the Cape parrot and Samango monkey had done this many, many times before in their evolutionary passage to the present day. They had weathered ice ages and cataclysms in these refugia, but had never witnessed the destructive capabilities of the first European foresters and woodcutters. They had seen disasters like fires and tornados wipe out whole forests, but these events were not the norm and did not continue unabated for centuries.

Starting about 350 years ago, our Cape parrot witnessed the complete devastation of South Africa’s indigenous forests to build the Cape Colony, the Union of South Africa, and finally the Republic.

Breath-taking cathedral built by Trappist monks out of yellowwood (Left). This thousand year old yellowwood tree called the “Big Tree” is one of only four remaining yellowwoods this size… (Steve Boyes)

Breath-taking cathedral built by Trappist monks out of yellowwood (Left). This thousand year old yellowwood tree called the “Big Tree” is one of only four remaining yellowwoods this size… (Steve Boyes)

Cape parrots would have had yellowwood fruits available to them all year round and these forests were once scattered with massive dead yellowwood snags that stood for centuries as Cape parrot nesting sites. The forests that these parrots flocked over are long gone and can now only be imagined from readings of old travel journals and research notes. Today the indigenous forest these parrots once relied on cannot support them and the parrots have learnt to feed on plums from Japan, cherries from Mexico, pecan nuts from the USA, acorns from England, Jacaranda pods from South America, and seringa fruits from India. None of these food items are good for parrots – too much fat and sugar… The “catch-22″ is that without these food resources we would have no Cape parrots.

Southern African Bird Atlas Project 2 (SABAP2) data for the endemic Cape Parrot (Poicephalus robustus) in South Africa (http://sabap2.adu.org.za/spp_select.php)

Southern African Bird Atlas Project 2 (SABAP2) data for the endemic Cape Parrot (Poicephalus robustus) in South Africa (http://sabap2.adu.org.za/spp_select.php)

Cape parrot flying low over a wild plum tree. Africa’s most endangered parrot like never before… (Rodnick Biljon)

Cape parrot flying low over a wild plum tree. Africa’s most endangered parrot like never before… (Rodnick Biljon)

After the major population collapse in the 1970s and 80s due to removal of nesting sites and persecution by pecan farmers, the small founding population have reinvented themselves and behave more like a population of feral parrots released into unknown habitat. Parrots are clever and resourceful, and Cape parrots have collectively managed to find a way to exist in what remains of their indigenous habitat.

They have food for up to 10 months of the year, falling short between January and March when Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD) takes over strips many of the parrots of all their feathers just before winter. There is no doubt that the Cape parrot needs intervention and assistance. The Wild Bird Trust’s Cape Parrot Project works hard everyday to solve problems and mitigate threats to Cape parrots.

We plant thousands of yellowwood trees, erect hundreds of nest boxes, help the parrots find suitable feeding sites, maintain safe drinking sites, lead the development of a vaccine for PBFD, and get local communities involved as the custodians of South Africa’s yellowwood forests. Please help us by donating via the World Parrot Trust. Go to: http://www.parrots.org/capes

Who’s a clever boy then? Why cockatoos are no bird brains

Who’s a clever boy then? Cockatoos display as much self-discipline as a child of four when it comes to making “economic” decisions that will benefit them in the future.

The ability to anticipate a delayed gain is considered mentally challenging Photo: Alamy

The ability to anticipate a delayed gain is considered mentally challenging Photo: Alamy

Researchers found that the Goffin’s cockatoo can resist the temptation of eating food immediately in order to receive a better reward later.

This mirrored a famous experiment in the US 40 years ago when nursery school children were put in a room and given a marshmallow, biscuit or pretzel stick. They could either eat it right away or wait 15 minutes and get an extra treat.

Tracking them over time those with the ability to wait got better grades, were healthier, enjoyed greater professional success and proved better at staying in relationships – even decades after they took the test. They were, in short, better at life.

The ability to anticipate a delayed gain is considered mentally challenging since it requires not just the capacity to control a direct impulse but also to assess the gain’s beneficial value against the cost of having to wait and the reliability of the trader.

Psychologists say that such aptitude could be considered signs of economic decision-making and are rarely found outside humans.

Just a few, typically large-brained animals, have been found able to refuse an immediate snack for a bigger one for more than a minute. But the Indonesian cockatoo, which made headlines last year by spontaneously making and using “tools” to reach food, has now managed it, the Royal Society journal Biology Letters reports.

Isabelle Laumer, of the University of Vienna, said: “The animals were allowed to pick up an initial food item and given the opportunity to return it directly into the experimenter’s hand after an increasing time delay.

“If the initial food item had not been nibbled by this time, the bird received another reward of an even higher preferred food type or of a larger quantity than the initial food in exchange.

“Although we picked pecan nuts as the initial reward which were highly liked by the birds and would under normal circumstances be consumed straightaway, we found all fourteen of the birds waited for food of higher quality, such as a cashew nut, for up to 80 seconds.”

Dr Alice Auersperg, the study’s co-author, said the Goffins acted “astonishingly like economic agents”, trading off between immediate and future benefits.

She said: “While human infants or primates can hold the initial food in their hands, one should also consider the birds were able to wait although they had to hold the food in their beaks, directly against their taste organs while waiting.

“Imagine placing a cookie directly into a toddler’s mouth and telling him or her they will only receive a piece of chocolate if the cookie is not nibbled for over a minute.”

Another of the researchers, Professor Thomas Bugnyar, has carried out similar studies on ravens and crows.

He added: “Until recently, birds were considered to lack any self-control. When we found corvids could wait for delayed food, we speculated which socio-ecological conditions could favour the evolution of such skills.

“To test our ideas we needed clever birds that are distantly related to corvids. Parrots were the obvious choice and the results on Goffins show we are on the right track.”

sources: telegraph.co.uk

Do Hand-Reared or Parent-Reared Parrots Make Better Pets?

baudin's_feeding_7days2Hand-reared” refers to chicks that are pulled from the nest soon after hatching and fed by hand until fledged. Such birds have long been considered to be the gold standard in parrot pet. However, behavioral problems that are sometimes exhibited by hand-reared individuals have led some to question the value of this technique.

It is important to realize that parrots are intelligent, adaptable animals, and individuals develop distinct personalities. This clouds the issue of hand vs. parent rearing, as experiences later in life can affect a parrot’s behavior, for better or worse, regardless of rearing technique.

Hand-Reared Parrots
As a general rule, hand-reared birds make ideal pets, being calmer around people and easier to tame than those raised by their parents.

Many actively seek out human companionship and, indeed, may prefer people to their own species. They tend to be less stressed by changes in their environments and novel objects or animals, and are more easily taught to perform tricks and imitate words.

The Down Side of Hand-Reared Parrots
The very traits mentioned above sometimes “backfire” and negatively impact both parrot and owner.

Hand-reared parrots of either sex may see humans as both potential mates and competitors. During the breeding season, and sometimes year-round, such birds can be very aggressive towards “mates” that do not respond appropriately (“appropriately” in parrot terms, that is!) and people who are viewed as competing for their “mate’s” attention. This problem arises in many hand-reared animals…for example, I have been attacked by a “tame” Sambar buck (an elk-sized Asian deer) and offered mouse snacks by an amorous Great Horned Owl!

Also, such parrots are often poor breeders, failing to choose proper nesting sites or to feed their chicks appropriately.

Three-week-old-African-grey-parrot-chick-being-hand-reared-

hand-reared birds make ideal pets, being calmer and easier to tame than those raised by their parents

Physically moving about can also be problematic for hand-reared parrots. While equipped with instincts, young parrots also learn a great deal from their parents. Activities such as climbing, manipulating food, flying and landing can be very challenging for those that have not had the benefit of parental training.

Co-Parenting
“Co-parenting” is a technique wherein parrots are fed and cared for by their parents but are handled by human caretakers on a daily basis as well. In many ways it is an ideal compromise between hand and parent-rearing. Fifteen to thirty minutes of handling daily, beginning when the chicks are 4-5 weeks old, has been shown to produce relatively tame birds.

Interestingly, some co-parented birds seem to be even less fearful of new objects and environmental changes than are hand-reared birds. Co-parented parrots learn important physical skills from their parents and are often in better health and weight than those that are hand-reared (raising parrot chicks on formula is fraught with difficulties).

Co-Parenting Problems
Defensive behavior by parrot parents is a major co-parenting problem. Even long-term, affectionate pets may violently defend their nests against intrusion. In addition to the danger of severe bites, daily removal of the chicks can greatly stress the adults, leading to illnesses caused by weakened immune systems. Stressed parents may also attack their chicks, often fatally.

Important Note: Parrot sellers sometimes claim that un-weaned parrot chicks (those still requiring hand-feeding) mature into the ultimate parrot pets. However, feeding parrot chicks is a difficult task, with health problems and early fatalities being routine even in zoos. Unless you are an expert, be sure to purchase only hand-raised parrots that are weaned and feeding on their own.