captive-bred orange-bellied parrots migrate from Victoria to Tasmania (s

Subject: captive-bred orange-bellied parrots migrate from Victoria to Tasmania (some details)
Date: Fri, 12 Nov 2004 12:20:16 +1100

Many of you will already have heard the great news that at some of the captive-bred Orange-bellied Parrots we released at Point Wilson in Victoria on 5 August have been seen in their natural breeding habitat in Tasmania, but here are some more details.  

Three birds have been reported (from the six we released), at Birch's Inlet in south-west Tasmania.  Initially we were cautious and said "at least two" had been seen, but are now confident that three birds were correctly identified.  This is the first confirmation that captive-bred OBP will successfully migrate south across Bass Strait after a mainland release.  These birds had never been to Tasmania before (they were bred in Victoria).  (Successful migrations both ways across Bass Strait have been confirmed for captive-bred birds released in Tasmania.)

The birds were seen by volunteer observers at Birch's Inlet, south of Strahan, and identified by individual letters on their red colour bands.  The two birds are the two that vanished a day after their initial release, and we have always been hoping that they would turn up somewhere, especially in Tasmania.  One was seen at Birch's Inlet on 23 and 27 October and the other on 3 November. The third bird  is the one that moved to the North Spit and spent several weeks there before it was last seen on 29 September.  It was then seen at Birch's Inlet on 27 October.  Many observers watched it while it was at the Spit, sometimes alone and sometimes with one other captive-bred bird and up to four wild-bred birds.

The observers at Birch's Inlet were Kevin Mason, Peter Hier and Fred Bohner, co-ordinated by Mark Holdsworth of DPIWE in Tasmania.  

The mainland release (only the second ever done) was a joint effort by staff of DSE and Healesville Sanctuary, on behalf of the OBP Recovery Team.   Parks Victoria and Melbourne Water provided great support as land managers.  We are very excited that the birds have made their own way successfully across Bass Strait, and joined wild birds in suitable breeding habitat.   We wait with interest for further information about whether these birds remain at Birch's Inlet or move further south to join the larger wild population at Melaleuca.

Birch's Inlet was a traditional breeding area, but it ceased to be used in the late 1970s or early 1980s, and has been restored through release of captive-bred birds at the site in the breeding season over several years.  It's great to know that captive-bred birds can find their own way there from wintering sites in Victoria!

Thank you all for your help: this is a significant step forward, and we hope to hear more of these birds over the summer, and back here next winter.  Cheers, Richard.

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