Scientists campaign to save the swift parrot

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Scientists need help to protect the swift parrot.
SCIENTISTS from the Australian National University (ANU) have launched a new crowdfunding campaign to help protect the critically endangered swift parrot from sugar gliders.

New research predicts swift parrots will flock to Tasmania after their migration in the coming weeks to nest on the state’s east coast, which is this year’s richest food location, but is also a hotspot for predatory sugar gliders.

Dr Dejan Stojanovic from the ANU Fenner School of Environment and Society says nesting attempts in some parts of the east coast have not produced a single nestling swift parrot since monitoring began because of the severity of sugar glider predation.

In a bid to protect the swift parrot, ANU and the National Environmental Science Program have joined forces to ask the public to help fund nest boxes.

“If we don’t act immediately, the expected mortality rates in unprotected nest boxes could erase the gains we made last year when swift parrots nested on a predator free island,” Dr Stojanovic says.

In 2015 the public donated $75,000 to the “ANU Difficult Birds Research Group” crowdfunding campaign to trial the deployment of nest boxes as a recovery tool for swift parrots.

Now, the team has developed and tested a prototype device to protect parrots that nest in boxes from sugar gliders. The device, a mechanical door that can be fitted to nest boxes, closes the nest box entrance at sunset, protecting the sleeping parrots from nocturnal sugar gliders. The door opens again at sunrise.

“Our prototype worked well, and the parrots didn’t mind the machinery,” he says.

“Now that we’ve worked out how to lock the front door on our nest boxes to keep the parrots safe, we need help from the public to raise money to build and deploy these devices on nest boxes in places where the parrots are at risk of being eaten.”

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