Biodiversity

Species Profile and Threats Database


For information to assist proponents in referral, environmental assessments and compliance issues, refer to the Policy Statements and Guidelines (where available), the Conservation Advice (where available) or the Listing Advice (where available).
 
In addition, proponents and land managers should refer to the Recovery Plan (where available) or the Conservation Advice (where available) for recovery, mitigation and conservation information.

EPBC Act Listing Status Listed as Critically Endangered as Pezoporus flaviventris
Listing and Conservation Advices Commonwealth Conservation Advice for Pezoporus wallicus flaviventris (western ground parrot) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2013ch) [Conservation Advice].
 
Commonwealth Listing Advice on Pezoporus wallicus flaviventris (western ground parrot) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2013ck) [Listing Advice].
 
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan required, a high level of adaptive management is required. A recovery plan for threatened birds of the Western Australian south coast, which includes the western ground parrot, is currently in preparation by the Western Australian government (26/04/2013).
 
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans
Other EPBC Act Plans Fitzgerald Biosphere Recovery Plan: A Landscape Approach to Threatened Species and Ecological Communities Recovery and Biodiversity Conservation (Western Australia Department of Environment and Conservation (WA DEC), 2012) [Recovery Plan] as Pezoporus flaviventris.
 
Threat Abatement Plan for Reduction in Impacts of Tramp Ants on Biodiversity in Australia and its Territories (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006p) [Threat Abatement Plan].
 
Threat Abatement Plan for Predation by the European Red Fox (Environment Australia (EA), 1999a) [Threat Abatement Plan].
 
Threat Abatement Plan for Predation by Feral Cats (Environment Australia (EA), 1999b) [Threat Abatement Plan].
 
Policy Statements and Guidelines Survey Guidelines for Australia's Threatened Birds. EPBC Act survey guidelines 6.2 (Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), 2010l) [Admin Guideline].
 
Federal Register of
    Legislative Instruments
Declaration under s178, s181, and s183 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 - List of threatened species, List of threatened ecological communities and List of threatening processes (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000) [Legislative Instrument] as Pezoporus wallicus flaviventris.
 
List of Migratory Species (13/07/2000) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000b) [Legislative Instrument] as Pezoporus wallicus flaviventris.
 
Amendment to the list of threatened species under section 178 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (135) (14/08/2012) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2012s) [Legislative Instrument] as Pezoporus flaviventris.
 
List of Migratory Species - Amendment to the list of migratory species under section 209 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (26/11/2013) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2013af) [Legislative Instrument] as Pezoporus wallicus flaviventris.
 
Amendment to the list of threatened species under section 178 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (144) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2013i) [Legislative Instrument] as Pezoporus flaviventris.
 
State Government
    Documents and Websites
WA:South Coast Threatened Birds Recovery Plan 2009-2018 (Department of Environment and Conservation, 2009v) [State Recovery Plan].
WA:Interim Recovery Plan No. 6. Western Ground Parrot Interim Recovery Plan 1996 to 1999 (Western Australia Department of Environment and Conservation (WA DEC), 1997) [State Recovery Plan].
State Listing Status
WA: Listed as Critically Endangered (Wildlife Conservation Act 1950 (Western Australia): September 2013 list) as Pezoporus flaviventris
Non-statutory Listing Status
NGO: Listed as Critically Endangered (The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2010)
Scientific name Pezoporus flaviventris [84650]
Family Psittacidae:Psittaciformes:Aves:Chordata:Animalia
Species author (North, 1911)
Infraspecies author  
Reference Murphy, S.A., Joseph, L., Burbidge, A.H. & Austin, J. 2010. A cryptic and critically endangered species revealed by mitochondrial DNA analyses: the Western Ground Parrot. Conservation Genetics DOI: 10.1007/s10592-010-0161-1
Other names Pezoporus wallicus flaviventris [26024]
Distribution map Species Distribution Map

This is an indicative distribution map of the present distribution of the species based on best available knowledge. See map caveat for more information.

Illustrations Google Images

Scientific name: Pezoporus flaviventris

Common name: Western Ground Parrot

Other names: Ground Parrot (western), Swamp Parrot

Murphy et al. (2011) conducted mitochondrial DNA analyses to ascertain the taxonomy of Pezoperus wallicus. They found that the two former subspecies, the Western Ground Parrot, Pezoperus wallicus flaviventris, and the Eastern Ground Parrot, Pezoperus wallicus wallicus, were separated by a relatively large genetic distance (4.4-5.1%), estimated from cytochrome b sequences, and should, therefore, be considered separate species. The Western Ground Parrot is now conventionally accepted as Pezoporus flaviventris, a distinct species of ground parrot (AFD 2012).

The Western Ground Parrot is a medium-sized, slender parrot about 30 cm in length and 84-110 g in weight (Burbidge et al. 1989; Higgins 1999; Johnstone & Storr 1998) with short, rounded wings (Gilfillan et al. 2009), 135-145 mm in length (Burbidge et al. 1989), and a long, strongly graduated tail comprising of narrow, pointy feathers (Forshaw cited in Gilfillan et al. 2009). Adults of both sexes are bright green with a diagnostic red or orange-red band across the forehead, a brown-grey to dark grey bill, pale yellow or light brown irides, a yellow belly, black streaks on the head and neck, black blotches and streaks on the breast, strongly mottled black and yellow colouration on the remainder of the body, wings and tail (Gilfillan et al. 2009), except for cream to flesh-pink or brownish-grey legs and feet (Higgins 1999; Johnstone & Storr 1998; Newbey 2007 pers. comm.).

Newly-fledged juveniles are mottled brownish-grey with a pink bill, dark-brown to grey-brown irides and a small amount of green colouration (Higgins 1999; Newbey 2007 pers. comm.). Older juveniles are similar to the adults but are a duller, yellow-olive on the head, neck and underparts, and more yellow on the underbody. Older juveniles are most easily distinguished from the adults by the absence of the red or orange-red band on the forehead, and the thicker and bolder black markings on the head and neck (Higgins 1999).

Current distribution

The distribution of the Western Ground Parrot is endemic to near-coastal regions of south-western Western Australia (WA), which are highly fragmented habitats (Burbidge et al. 1997; Murphy et al. 2011; Schodde & Mason 1997). In 2008, the species was found to occur in two regions: Fitzgerald River National Park (NP) and Cape Arid NP, and was last recorded in the south-western parts of Nuytsland Nature Reserve (NR) in 2006 (Gilfillan et al. 2009).

Historical distribution

Historical records suggest that the Western Ground Parrot may have occurred on the coastal plains from the Dongara-Watheroo area (Gilfillan et al. 2009; Watkins 1985), south-east of Geraldton, to Perth, and from Augusta-Flinders Bay to Israelite Bay, approximately 200 km east of Esperance (Ashby 1921b; Ford 1969; Watkins 1985). The species was last recorded on the coastal plain north of Perth at the end of the 19th century and west of Albany in 1983 (Watkins 1985; Garnett et al. 2011; Gilfillan et al. 2009).

The extent of occurrence and area of occupancy of the Western Ground Parrot have declined since European settlement of the region (Ashby 1921b; Baggs 1953; Ford 1969; Salvadori 1891; Serventy & Whittell 1976; Watkins 1985; Whitlock 1914; Whittell 1952).

Extent of occurrence

In 2000, the extent of occurrence, including the occurrence of the species in the Mount Manypeaks-Waychinicup area, Fitzgerald River NP and Cape Arid NP, was estimated at 1000 km2 (Garnett & Crowley 2000). This figure may well over estimate the current extent of occurrence as the species has not been observed in the Mount Manypeaks-Waychinicup area since 2003 and could be locally extinct (Barth & Chemello 2007; Newbey 2003a, 2003b; Newbey et al. 2006).

Area of occupancy

In 2002, the area of occupancy was estimated to be 14 km2 based on the occurrence of the species in the Mount Manypeaks-Waychinicup area, Fitzgerald River NP and Cape Arid NP (Burbidge 2002 pers. comm.). The population in the Mount Manypeaks-Waychinicup area could now be extinct (Barth & Chemello 2007; Newbey 2003a, 2003b; Newbey et al. 2006), but the estimates of 14 km2 are still considered to be applicable because the species is now known to occur in the western region of Nuytsland NR (Newbey 2007 pers. comm.). 

The Western Ground Parrot has been surveyed intensively in recent years. Surveys were conducted:

  • throughout the historical range of the subspecies in 1984 and 1985 (Watkins 1985);
  • in the Mount Manypeaks-Waychinicup area in 1998 and in each year from 2001-2006 (Barth & Chemello 2007; McNee 1999; Newbey 2003a, 2003b; Newbey et al. 2006);
  • at one site in Fitzgerald River NP in 1996, 1998, 2000 and 2004 (Burbidge 1999; Burbidge et al. 2007);
  • in Cape Arid NP and at nearby locations in 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2003, 2005 and 2006 (McNee 2000; McNee & Newbey 2003; Newbey et al. 2006);
  • in 2007-2009 at all sites where the species was known to occur in 1990 (Barrett and Berryman cited in Gilfillan et al. 2009);
  • at Jurien following two unconfirmed reports of the species in the area, however no birds were detected (Gilfillan et al. 2009; Newbey 2007 pers. comm.); and
  • at some additional locations where there have been recent sightings, but these surveys have failed to confirm the existence of any new permanent or semi-permanent populations (Burbidge & Comer 2003; Gilfillan et al. 2007).

Although many surveys have been conducted, it is probably not possible to collect accurate data on the distribution and population size. This is because the two most effective techniques to survey for the Western Ground Parrot, one of which is based on the flushing of birds, and the other of which is based on listening for calls, have an inherent degree of inaccuracy which may vary depending on the density of birds and conditions for listening (Cale & Burbidge 1993; Gilfillan et al. 2007; Watkins & Burbidge 1992).

The total population of the Western Ground Parrot declined from approximately 380 in 1990 to fewer than 200 birds in 2004-2005, and then to between 78 and 110 birds by 2009. Considerable surveys conducted in 2007-2008 suggested that further rapid decline in the Western Ground Parrot population is occurring (Barrett and Berryman cited in Gilfillan et al. 2009).

In 2009, the species was known to occur in two geographically separate subpopulations, a small subpopulation in Fitzgerald River NP and the other, estimated at 100 individuals, occurred in Cape Arid NP and Nuytsland NR (Burbidge and Blyth cited in Murphy et al. 2011; Gilfillan et al. 2009). A third, subpopulation was present in the Mount Manypeaks-Waychinicup area in the early to late 1990s (Burbidge et al. 1997; Gilfillan et al. 2009; McNee 1999), but has not been recorded since 2004 (Barth & Chemello 2007; Newbey et al. 2006).

Fitzgerald River National Park

The subpopulation in Fitzgerald River NP was estimated at 303 birds in 1990 (Watkins & Burbidge 1992). A monitoring program at one site within this park recorded a threefold increase in the frequency of calls from 1996 to 2000. The average number of calls heard per listening session in the park increased to about 60 in 1998-2000 after the commencement of a broadscale fox-baiting program in 1998 (Comer et al. cited in Garnett et al. 2011). However, in 2004 the frequency of calls had decreased to less than a tenth of the frequency recorded in 2000 (Burbidge 1999; Burbidge et al. 2007). Following these listening surveys, the estimate of population size was revised to less than 83 birds (Gilfillan et al. 2007). The number of calls heard per listening session decreased to 4 in 2004-2006 and 0-2 in 2008-2010 (Comer et al. cited in Garnett et al. 2011). This decline may have been caused, at least in part, by a major fire in 1994, which may have eliminated as many as 40 birds (Burbidge et al. 1997), and by a second major fire in 1997-1998, in which about 40 to 50% of the habitat, deemed suitable for the Western Ground Parrot, was burnt (Burbidge et al. 2007).

Cape Arid National Park-Nuytsland Nature Reserve

The subpopulation in Cape Arid NP was estimated to contain 75 birds at a single site in 1990 (Watkins & Burbidge 1992). No further records were obtained from Cape Arid NP until a survey, in May 2003, found the species at the original site and at one additional site in the park, and at one site in adjacent Nuytsland NR (McNee & Newbey 2003). The subpopulation in Cape Arid NP-Nuytsland NR was estimated at 52 or more birds in 2004 but, following additional surveys in 2006, this estimate was revised to 90 birds (Gilfillan et al. 2007).

Mount Manypeaks-Waychinicup

It is possible that a third, geographically separate subpopulation could persist in the Mount Manypeaks-Waychinicup area. An estimated 29 or more birds were present in the Mount Manypeaks-Waychinicup area in 1998 (Burbidge et al. 2007, McNee 1999), but numbers declined markedly in the ensuing few years (Newbey 2003a). Only four birds were recorded in the area during a survey in 2003 (Newbey 2003b) and, during many listening sessions conducted in 2005 to 2008, no birds were recorded in this area (Barth & Chemello 2007; Gilfillan et al. 2009; Newbey et al. 2006).

Unconfirmed sightings

There has been one confirmed record and a number of unconfirmed reports of the Western Ground Parrot at other locations on the south-west coast in recent years, including a carcass recovered from near the Kalgan River in 1994; reliable but unconfirmed reports from the Lowlands area, west of Albany, in 1999, and Lake Shaster NR, east of Fitzgerald River NP; and two unconfirmed reports near Jurien, north of Perth, in 2001 and 2003 (Burbidge & Comer 2003; McNee 2000; Gilfillan et al. 2007).

Important populations

All extant populations are considered important for the long-term survival and recovery of the species.

Potential for inter-specific hydribridisation

No cross-breeding has been recorded between the Western Ground Parrot and Eastern Ground Parrot, or between the Western Ground Parrot and any other species. The Western Ground Parrot is unlikely to cross-breed in the wild because it does not come into contact with the Eastern Ground Parrot or the closely-related Night Parrot, Pezoporus occidentalis, within its normal distribution (Higgins 1999; Leeton et al. 1994; Schodde & Mason 1997).

In recent years, confirmed records of the Western Ground Parrot have only been obtained within Fitzgerald River NP, Cape Arid NP and Nuytsland NR (Gilfillan et al. 2007; Newbey et al. 2006; Newbey 2007 pers. comm.). It is also possible that a small subpopulation could persist in Waychinicup NP.

The Western Ground Parrot inhabits low, dry or swampy, near-coastal heathlands on sandplains and uplands in areas that receive 400-500 mm of rainfall annually (the species formerly inhabited areas that received up to 1,300 mm of rainfall annually) (Ashby 1921b; Baggs 1953; Burbidge et al. 1989, 1997; Ford 1963b; Garstone 1977; Gilfillan et al. 2007; McNee 1999, 2000; Newbey et al. 1983, 2006; Watkins & Burbidge 1992; Whitlock 1914). The vegetation in such heathlands consists of moderately dense, low shrubs (usually not more than 0.5-1.0 m tall) and often with an open understorey of low sedges, including Mesomelaena species, that are usually less than 0.5 m tall. The vegetation usually includes scattered clumps of emergent, stunted (DEWHA 2010l) low-mallee (Eucalyptus species), and sometimes taller shrubs, or occasionally with some scattered tussock-grasses (Burbidge et al. 1989; DEWHA 2010l; Gilfillan et al. 2007; McNee 1999; Newbey et al. 1983, 2006; Watkins 1985; Whitlock 1914; Whittell 1952). The vegetation is floristically diverse, and often includes shrubs in the genera Agonis, Allocasuarina, Andersonia, Banksia, Conostylis, Dryandra, Hakea, Hibbertia, Leptospermum, Leucopogon and Platysace, as well as sedges in the genera Caustis, Gahnia, Lepidospermum, Mesomelaena, Restio and Schoenus (Burbidge et al. 1989; Gilfillan et al. 2007; McNee 1999, 2000; Newbey 2007 pers. comm.; Newbey et al. 1983). Historically, the Western Ground Parrot has also occurred on Xanthorrhoea flats (Higgins 1999).

The Western Ground Parrot is usually recorded in areas of vegetation that have remained unburnt for five or more years, however, the species has been observed foraging in vegetation burnt as little as two or three years earlier. Recently burnt habitat is likely to be unsuitable for breeding and, potentially, only used for foraging where it is located adjacent to older, unburnt vegetation where a dense cover of sedges is present (Burbidge 2003; Burbidge et al. 1989; Gilfillan et al. 2007; Newbey 2007 pers. comm.). In Fitzgerald River NP, the species continues to occur in vegetation that has remained unburnt for 40-45 years. Its presence in long unburnt vegetation suggests that there is no upper age limit at which vegetation becomes unsuitable, at least within the range of vegetation ages that are currently occupied (Burbidge et al. 1989, 2007; Gilfillan et al. 2007; Newbey et al. 2006; Watkins 1985).

Associations with other listed threatened species

In Fitzgerald River NP, the Western Ground Parrot occurs in areas that are also frequented by the Western Bristlebird (Dasyornis longirostris) (Newbey 2007 pers. comm.), which is listed as Vulnerable under the EPBC Act 1999.

No specific information is available on the age of sexual maturity or life expectancy in the Western Ground Parrot (Garnett & Crowley 2000), however, average life history parameters for this species are likely to be similar to the mean values of other genera in Psittacidae. For example, the Eastern Ground Parrot (Pezoporus wallicus) is believed to reach sexual maturity at two or three years of age (Courtney 1997; McFarland 1991a), and is evidently capable of surviving to at least eight or nine years of age (Australian Bird and Bat Banding Scheme 1995; McFarland 1991a). Similarly, a generation time of 9.7 years for the Western Ground Parrot is derived from an average age at first breeding of 2 years, and a maximum longevity of 17.8 years (Birdlife International 2011 cited in Garnett et al. 2011).

The breeding behaviour of the Western Ground Parrot is not well known. The few records that are available indicate that the species breeds between July and December (Burbidge et al. 1989; Gilfillan et al. 2007; Whitlock 1914). The species nests on the ground in the shelter of thorny shrubs, with the eggs laid in a shallow hollow that is excavated by the adults and sparsely lined with dry grass (Whitlock 1914). The only clutch that has been recorded consisted of three pure-white eggs (Whitlock 1914). There is also a record of another nest with a brood of two nestlings (Whitlock 1914).

Records of clutches of one to seven eggs in the Eastern Ground Parrot (Brown 1980b; McFarland 1988, 1991b) suggest that smaller and larger clutches may be laid by the Western Ground Parrot. No information is available on the duration of the incubation, nesting or post-fledging periods, the role of the parents during these periods, or breeding success.

The Western Ground Parrot feeds on fruit, leaves, buds and flowers. It has been observed foraging in plants species, such as Andersonia parvifolia, Caustis dioica, Prickly Conostylis (Conostylis deplexa), Cryptandra sp., Prickly Bitter-pea (Daviesia decurrens), D. pachyphylla, D. teretifolia, Dryandra tenuifolia, Goodenia caerulea, Grevillea oligantha, G. tripartita, Kerosene bush (Hakea trifurcata), Hibbertia gracilipes, H. lineata, H. recurvifolia, Nodding Coneflower (Isopogon teretifolius), Jacksonia intricata, Lepidosperma angustatum, L. brunonianum, Leptospermum maxwelii/oligandrum, Curry Flower (Lysinema ciliatum), Mesomelaena stygia, Fox-tail Mulga Grass (Neurachne alopecuroidea), Pseudanthus virgatus, Pultenaea sp., Restio sphacelatus, Stachystemon polyandrus and Synaphea polymorpha (Burbidge et al. 1989; Newbey et al. 1983). From the presence of foraging signs, it is inferred that the species also takes food items from Beaufortia schauri (Newbey 2007 pers. comm.).

The Western Ground Parrot takes food items from low plants. The species collects its food whilst standing on the ground or whilst perched in a food plant (Newbey 2007 pers. comm.). The birds move between food plants on foot, feeding only for a short time at each plant visited. The species chews leaves (Newbey et al. 1983), severs plant stems with its bill and sometimes holds food items in one foot whilst feeding (Newbey 2007 pers. comm.). Its foraging behaviour is otherwise undescribed, but it is likely to be similar to that of the Eastern Ground Parrot, which takes seeds and fruits from the ground and low plants, scratches and probes the soil, and perches in shrubs to feed on flowers (Fletcher 1908; Forshaw & Cooper 2002; Gosper 1995; Meredith et al. 1984).

The Western Ground Parrot becomes active 60-45 minutes before sunrise, at which time it may fly more than 500 m from roosting sites to foraging sites. It forages in the early to late morning and late afternoon, with radio-tracked movements of 25 m per hour and 27 m per hour recorded at these times respectively in one study near Fitzgerald River NP. It appears to rest from the late morning to late afternoon, with radio-tracked movements of only 12 m per hour recorded during this time period in the Fitzgerald River NP study. The results of this study indicate that the Western Ground Parrot usually travels less than 400 m throughout the course of the day while it forages. It leaves its foraging sites and returns to its roosting sites in the evening (Burbidge et al. 1989).

The Western Ground Parrot appears to have a good ability to disperse, being able to travel across tracts of unsuitable habitat and stretches of water (Burbidge 2002 pers. comm.) and to cover substantial distances in flight, as evidenced by the recovery of a dead, immature bird approximately 40 km from the nearest known population (Gilfillan et al. 2007). However, the potential for the species to move larger distances, as recorded in studies of the Eastern Ground Parrot, is not well known. The Eastern Ground Parrot is mainly sedentary but there is evidence of some seasonal movement, including dispersal by young birds, over distances of up to 220 km (Bryant 1991b; Emison et al. 1987; McFarland 1989, 1991a; Meredith & Isles 1980; Meredith et al. 1984). While little information is available on seasonal movements of the Western Ground Parrot, a 75% reduction in the number of birds flushed from October-November to January-February near Fitzgerald River NP, and radio-tracked movements of 2-3 km by young birds in December at the same location, suggest that some post-breeding dispersal probably occurs (Burbidge et al. 1989).

The home range of individuals of the species has not been accurately determined (Burbidge et al. 1989), however these are probably highly overlapping (DEWHA 2010l). One study of radio-tracked birds near Fitzgerald River NP found that individual birds moved over an area of at least several hectares, and that one individual utilised an area of approximately 40 ha (Burbidge et al. 1989).

Western Ground Parrots are generally solitary (DEWHA 2010l; Gilfillan et al. 2009), however they have occasionally been observed in pairs or small groups (Baggs 1953; DEWHA 2010l; Mattingley 1918; Whitlock 1914). It is unknown as to whether the species establishes or defends territories (Gilfillan et al. 2009), as the Eastern Ground Parrot has been known to do (McFarland 1991b).

Distinctiveness

The Elegant Parrot, Neophema elegans, and Rock Parrot, N. petrophila, occur in the same habitats as the Western Ground Parrot and are superficially similar in appearance. However, neither of these species are likely to be confused with the Western Ground Parrot by an experienced observer (DEWHA 2010l; Higgins et al. 1999).

Detectability

The Western Ground Parrot is difficult to observe because it is generally shy and elusive in nature, inhabits dense low-heath, in which it usually remains near or under cover, and is well camouflaged by its plumage. Birds often retreat on foot from an observer before they can be sighted (DEWHA 2010l; Newbey 2007 pers. comm.).

The Western Ground Parrot is most conspicuous before sunrise or after sunset, when engaged in its distinctive flying or calling behaviour (DEWHA 2010l; Watkins 1985). The species occasionally calls at other times during the day (Higgins 1999) and may call less frequently when flocking at low densities (DEWHA 2010l). The species' distinctive call is a series of high-pitched whistling notes and an occassional buzzing call, which has been recorded in Fitzgerald River NP (Gilfillan et al. 2009). Calling generally occurs 60-20 minutes before sunrise and 20-60 minutes after sunset (Gilfillan et al. 2009). The species' calls may be audible to a distance of approximately 400 m in calm conditions (DEWHA 2010l; Watkins 1985).

Recommended Methods

It is recommended that surveys for the Western Ground Parrot be conducted just before sunrise and/or just after dusk (DEWHA 2010l), when the birds call most frequently (Watkins 1985; Burbidge et al. 1989), and in calm conditions, to maximize the chance that calls will be heard (Burbidge et al. 2007). The recommended method to survey this species is to conduct transect-point surveys or, if multiple observers are available, point surveys, in suitable habitat (DEWHA 2010l). For point surveys, it is recommended that observers be spaced about 400 m apart in fixed locations because it can be difficult for observers to detect the species' calls while moving through vegetation. Broadcast surveys (the playback of recorded calls to solicit a response from the target bird) also may be useful, especially if conducted before or during the breeding seaso,n and in overcast conditions. However, the species' response to such surveys can be unpredictable (DEWHA 2010l).

Survey Effort Guide

Methods

Hours

Days

Point surveys*

12

4

Broadcast surveys*

6

3

* For areas of less than 50 ha: most effective before dawn or after dusk (DEWHA 2010l)

 

The historical decline of the Western Ground Parrot is thought to have been mainly due to (Abbott 2000; Burbidge et al. 1997; Garnett 1993; Garnett & Crowley 2000; Watkins & Burbidge 1992):

  • the loss of habitat caused by the clearance of heathland for agricultural purposes 
  • the loss or degradation of suitable habitat by wildfire, which is thought to have been exacerbated by the modification of vegetation and the fire ecology of the landscape since European settlement of the region, and
  • predation by the introduced European Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) and the Feral Cat (Felis catus).

All recent, confirmed records of the Western Ground Parrot have been obtained on Crown land and within conservation reserves (Burbidge et al. 1997; Gilfillan et al. 2007; Newbey et al. 2006; Newbey 2007 pers. comm.). Whilst the species appears to be confined to habitats in protected areas or on Crown land, where vegetation clearing is unlikely, the loss or degradation of habitat due to intense or frequent wildfires (i.e. less than a five year inter-fire interval), and the predation of the species by Foxes and Feral Cats, continue to be major threats to the species (Garnett & Crowley 2000; Gilfillan et al. 2007).

Wildfire

The Western Ground Parrot inhabits dry heathland communities with a post-fire age of five or more years (Burbidge 2003; Burbidge et al. 1989, 2007; Gilfillan et al. 2007). Therefore, the species is likely to be adversely affected by wildfires burning at intervals of less than six years.

Extensive wildfires, in the early 1980s and in the spring of 2002, burnt most of the suitable habitat for the Western Ground Parrot in Cape Arid NP (Gilfillan et al. 2007; Watkins & Burbidge 1992). A series of wildfires in December 1989 burnt about 123,000 ha of native vegetation and possibly destroyed one third of the subpopulation of the Western Ground Parrot in Fitzgerald River NP (McCaw et al. 1992; Watkins & Burbidge 1992). Again, in Fitzgerald River NP, a single wildfire in December 1997 burnt about 60 000 ha of native vegetation and is estimated to have affected 40-50% of the subpopulation there (Burbidge 1998). 

Catastrophic threat

The total population of the species is critically low (potentially as low as 78-110 individuals based on 2009 estimates) and currently occurs in two or three small, geographically isolated populations (Berryman and Burbidge cited in Murphy et al. 2011; Gilfillan et al. 2009; McNee & Newbey 2003; Newbey et al. 2006). Therefore, one intense and extensive wildfire, particularly in Cape Arid NP where up to 90% or more of the total population curently occurs, could potentially eliminate a large proportion of the total population and suitable habitat of the species (Burbidge 2003; Gilfillan et al. 2007; Newbey 2007 pers. comm.), if not result in the extinction of the species in the wild.

Introduced animals

The terrestrial nature of the Western Ground Parrot, and the openness of its habitat, render the species vulnerable to predation by Foxes and Feral Cats (Burbidge et al. 1997; Edwards 1924; Gilfillan et al. 2007; Mattingley 1918). Both of these species are known to prey on the Eastern Ground Parrot (Jordan 1989; Mattingley 1918). Whilst there are no documented cases of predation by either the European Red Fox and the Feral Cat on the Western Ground Parrot, the Fox is suspected to prey on and is, thus, considered a threat to the Western Ground Parrot (Gilfillan et al. 2007). In addition, the Feral Cat has been recorded in high densities in the Mount Manypeaks-Waychinicup area and at sites where the Western Ground Parrot has recently declined in Fitzgerald River NP (Gilfillan et al. 2007).

It is possible that a reduction in numbers of Foxes in Fitzgerald River NP, following the introduction of a baiting program in 1996, could have allowed Feral Cats and other potential predators, such as monitor lizards (Varanus species) and the Chuditch (Dasyurus geoffroii), to increase in numbers and, consequently, predatory incidences (Newbey 2007 pers. comm.).

Potential threats

Potential threats to the Western Ground Parrot include (Gilfillan et al. 2007):

  • the degradation of habitat resulting from Phytophthora cinnamomi dieback of heathland vegetation (Burbidge et al. 1997; Gilfillan et al. 2007; Whelan 2003)
  • the degradation of habitat resulting from domestic and feral hard-hoofed mammals (Gilfillan et al. 2007)
  • the degradation of habitat resulting from changes in the hydrology of the landscape (Gilfillan et al. 2007)
  • the degradation of habitat resulting from weed invasion, including Long-leafed Wattle (Acacia longifolia), Coastal Tea Tree (Leptospermum laevigatum) and Blue Broom (Psoralea pinnata) (Gilfillan et al. 2007), and
  • potential lethal interactions with the introduced Red Imported Fire Ant (Solenopsis invicta) (DEH 2006p).

The following recovery actions have been implemented to aid the recovery of the Western Ground Parrot:

  • Two recovery plans (Burbidge et al. 1997; Gilfillan et al. 2007) and a research plan (Cale & Burbidge 1993) have been developed for the Western Ground Parrot.
  • An additional 100,000 ha of land was added to Fitzgerald River NP in 1988 to conserve the most intensively studied population of the Western Ground Parrot (Burbidge et al. 1997).
  • A management plan has been formulated for Fitzgerald River NP. The plan contains general prescriptions for the management of fire, Phytophthora dieback disease and the Fox that are designed to benefit the Western Ground Parrot (Burbidge et al. 1997; Moore et al. 1992).
  • Interim management guidelines were formulated for Waychinicup NP and Cape Arid NP that are consistent with the requirements of the Western Ground Parrot (Burbidge et al. 1997).
  • Threat abatement plans have been formulated to mitigate the impacts of the Fox, the Feral Cat and the Red Imported Fire Ant on endemic fauna in Australia (EA 1999a, 1999b, 2001m).
  • A threat abatement plan has been formulated to mitigate the impacts of Phytophthora dieback disease on endemic flora in Australia (DEH 2006p).
  • A management plan is being developed for Cape Arid NP and other conservation reserves in the coastal region around Esperance. As part of this process, a document has been prepared which outlines management issues in the region (WA DEC 2007).
  • Measures have been implemented to contain the spread of Phytophthora dieback disease in Fitzgerald River NP (Newbey 2007 pers. comm.).
  • Baiting for the Fox has been conducted in Waychinicup NP, Fitzgerald NP, Cape Arid NP and Nuytsland NR (Burbidge et al. 1997).
  • Eight mature individuals of the Western Ground Parrot have been taken into captivity to trial captive-breeding techniques as part of a program which was identified as a potential mechanism in the recovery process (Burbidge 1999; Burbidge et al. 1997; Comer et al. cited in Garnett et al. 2011).

There have been a number of surveys for the Western Ground Parrot (Burbidge et al. 2007; McNee 1999, 2000; McNee & Newbey 2003; Newbey 2003a, 2003b; Newbey et al. 2006; Watkins 1985), but there has been only one completed major study on the ecology and behaviour of the subspecies (Burbidge et al. 1989).

A second, major study, including ongoing surveys in historical and potential locations, monitoring of known populations and research on the calling behaviour, foraging behaviour, diet and resting behaviour was  conducted by the Western Australian Department of Environment and Conservation, and the results presented to the South Coast Threatened Birds Recovery Team (Gilfillan et al. 2009; Newbey 2007 pers. comm.).

Management documents relevant to the Western Ground Parrot can be found at the start of the profile.

The following table lists known and perceived threats to this species. Threats are based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) threat classification version 1.1.

Threat Class Threatening Species References
Agriculture and Aquaculture:Agriculture and Aquaculture:Land clearing, habitat fragmentation and/or habitat degradation The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2000 (Garnett, S.T. & G.M. Crowley, 2000) [Cwlth Action Plan].
Biological Resource Use:Hunting and Collecting Terrestrial Animals:Harvesting for recreational purposes Pezoporus wallicus flaviventrisin Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006sz) [Internet].
Ecosystem/Community Stresses:Indirect Ecosystem Effects:Loss and/or fragmentation of habitat and/or subpopulations Pezoporus wallicus flaviventrisin Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006sz) [Internet].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or predation Vulpes vulpes (Red Fox, Fox) Western Ground Parrot interim recovery plan 1996 to 1999. Interim Recovery Plan No. 6 (Burbidge, A.H., J. Blyth, A. Danks, K. Gillen & B. Newbey, 1997) [State Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or predation Felis catus (Cat, House Cat, Domestic Cat) Western Ground Parrot interim recovery plan 1996 to 1999. Interim Recovery Plan No. 6 (Burbidge, A.H., J. Blyth, A. Danks, K. Gillen & B. Newbey, 1997) [State Recovery Plan].
Pezoporus wallicus flaviventrisin Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006sz) [Internet].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Problematic Native Species:Psittacine Circoviral Disease Commonwealth Listing Advice on Psittacine Circoviral (beak and feather ) Disease affecting endangered psittacine species (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2001v) [Listing Advice].
Natural System Modifications:Fire and Fire Suppression:Inappropriate and/or changed fire regimes (frequency, timing, intensity) Pezoporus wallicus flaviventrisin Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006sz) [Internet].
Residential and Commercial Development:Residential and Commercial Development:Habitat modification (clearance and degradation) due to urban development Pezoporus wallicus flaviventrisin Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006sz) [Internet].

Abbott, I. (2000). Impact of agricultural development and changed fire regimes on species composition of the avifauna in the Denmark region of south-west Western Australia, 1899-1999. CALMScience. 3:279-308.

Ashby, E. (1921b). Notes on birds observed in Western Australia, from Perth northwards to Geraldton. Emu. 20:130-137.

Australian Bird and Bat Banding Scheme (1995). Recovery round-up. Corella. 19:34-36.

Australian Faunal Directory (AFD) (2012). Australian Faunal Directory. [Online]. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/abrs/online-resources/fauna/afd/home.

Baggs, J.W. (1953). Re-discovery of the Ground Parrot at the Bow River. Western Australian Naturalist. 3:198.

Barth, M. & D. Chemello (2007). The Western Ground Parrot in Waychinicup National Park: they may be gone?. Friends of the Western Ground Parrot. 25:2-3.

Brown, P.B. (1980b). The Status of Parrot Species in Western Tasmania. Tasmanian Bird Report. 9:4--12.

Bryant, S.L. (1991b). The Ground Parrot Pezoporus wallicus, in Tasmania: Distribution, Density and Conservation Status. Scientific Report 91/1. Park, Wildlife and Heritage, Tasmania.

Burbidge, A.H. (1998). Possible effects of recent fires on Western Ground Parrots. Eclectus. 4:15--16.

Burbidge, A.H. (1999). Western Ground Parrot interim recovery plan. Eclectus. 6:23--26.

Burbidge, A.H. (2002). Personal communication. Department of Environment and Conservation, Western Australia.

Burbidge, A.H. (2003). Birds and fire in the Mediterranean climate of south-west Western Australia. In: Abbot, I., & N. Burrows, eds. Fire in Ecosystems of South-west Western Australia: Impacts and Management. Page(s) 321-347. Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, The Netherlands.

Burbidge, A.H. & S. Comer (2003). A Brief Summary of the Vertebrate Fauna of the Lake Shaster Area, With Emphasis on the Ground Parrot. Unpublished report to the South Coast Threatened Birds Recovery Team.

Burbidge, A.H., D. Watkins & S. McNee (1989). Conservation of the Ground Parrot in Western Australia. Project 118.

Burbidge, A.H., J. Blyth, A. Danks, K. Gillen & B. Newbey (1997). Western Ground Parrot interim recovery plan 1996 to 1999. Interim Recovery Plan No. 6. WA Dept Conservation & Land Management, Como.

Burbidge, A.H., J. Rolfe, S. McNee, B. Newbey & M. Williams (2007). Monitoring population change in the cryptic and threatened Western Ground Parrot in relation to fire. Emu. 107:79-88.

Cale, P.G. & A.H. Burbidge (1993). Research plan for the Western Ground Parrot, Western Whipbird and Western Bristlebird. Australian National Parks & Wildlife Service.

Courtney, J. (1997). Age-related colour changes and behaviour in the Ground Parrot Pezoporus wallicus. Australian Bird Watcher. 17:185-191.

Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH) (2006p). Threat Abatement Plan for Reduction in Impacts of Tramp Ants on Biodiversity in Australia and its Territories. [Online]. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/tap/trampants.html.

Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA) (2010l). Survey Guidelines for Australia's Threatened Birds. EPBC Act survey guidelines 6.2. [Online]. Canberra, ACT: DEWHA. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/epbc/publications/threatened-birds.html.

Edwards, H.V. (1924). Notes on the ground parrot. Emu . 24:35-37.

Emison,W.B., C.M. Beardsell, F.I. Norman, R.H. Loyn & S.C. Bennett (1987). Atlas of Victorian Birds. Melbourne: Department of Conservation (Forest & Lands) & Royal Australian Ornithological Union.

Environment Australia (EA) (1999a). Threat Abatement Plan for Predation by the European Red Fox. [Online]. Biodiversity Group, Environment Australia. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/tap/foxes08.html.

Environment Australia (EA) (1999b). Threat Abatement Plan for Predation by Feral Cats. [Online]. Biodiversity Group, Environment Australia. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/tap/cats08.html.

Environment Australia (EA) (2001m). Threat Abatement Plan for Dieback Caused by the Root-rot Fungus Phytophthora cinnamomi. [Online]. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/tap/phytophthora.html.

Fletcher, J.A. (1908). Bird notes from Cleveland, Tasmania. Emu. 9:79-83.

Ford, J. (1963b). Branch report, Western Australia. Emu. 63:90-92.

Ford, J. (1969). Distribution and taxonomic notes on some parrots from Western Australia. South Australian Ornithologist. 25:99-106.

Forshaw, J.M. & W.T. Cooper (2002). Australian Parrots, 3rd edition. Robina, Queensland: Alexander Editions.

Garnett, S., J. Szabo & G. Dutson (2011). The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2010. CSIRO Publishing.

Garnett, S.T., ed. (1993). Threatened and Extinct Birds of Australia. Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union Report 82 2nd (corrected) Edition. Melbourne: Royal Australian Ornithology Union and Canberra: Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Garnett, S.T. & G.M. Crowley (2000). The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2000. [Online]. Canberra, ACT: Environment Australia and Birds Australia. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/action/birds2000/index.html.

Garstone, R. (1977). Observation of a Ground Parrot in the Cape Arid National Park. Western Australian Naturalist. 13:206.

Gilfillan, S., S. Comer, A. Burbidge, J. Blyth, A. Danks & J. Newell (2009). South Coast Threatened Birds Recovery Plan 2009-2018. Western Australian Department of Environment and Conservation.

Gilfillan, S., S. Comer, A.H. Burbidge, J. Blyth & A. Danks (2007). South Coast Threatened Birds Recovery Plan Western Ground Parrot Pezoporus wallicus flaviventris, Western Bristlebird Dasyornis longirostris, Noisy Scrub-bird or Tjimiluk Atrichornis clamosus, Western Whipbird (Western Heath Subspecies) Psophodes nigrogul. Western Australian Department of Environment and Conservation, Perth.

Gosper, D.G. (1995). Notes on the activities of Ground Parrots in northern New South Wales. Australian Birds. 28:57-64.

Higgins, P.J., ed. (1999). Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds Volume 4: Parrots to Dollarbird. Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

Johnstone, R.E. & G.M. Storr (1998). Handbook of Western Australian Birds. Vol. 1: Non-passerines (Emu to Dollarbird). Perth, Western Australia: West Australian Museum.

Jordan, R. (1989). The Ground Parrot. Out of the frying pan into the fire. Geo. 11:82-87.

Leeton, P.R.J., L. Christidis, M. Westerman & W.E. Boles (1994). Molecular phylogenetic relationships of the Night Parrot (Geopsittacus occidentalis) and the Ground Parrot (Pezoporus wallicus). Auk. 111:833-843.

Mattingley, A.H.E. (1918). The Ground Parrot (Pezoporus formosus). Emu. 17:216-218.

McCaw, L., T. Maher & K. Gillen (1992). Wildfires in the Fitzgerald River National Park, Western Australia, December 1989. Technical Report 26. Western Australian Department of Conservation and Land Management, Perth.

McFarland, D.C. (1988). Geographical variation in the clutch size and breeding season of the Ground Parrot Pezoporus wallicus. Australian Bird Watcher. 12:247-250.

McFarland, D.C. (1989). The Ground Parrot Pezoporus wallicus wallicus (Kerr) in Queensland: Habitat, Biology and Conservation. Queensland Department of Environment and Conservation, Queensland.

McFarland, D.C. (1991a). Flush behaviour, catchability and morphometrics of the Ground Parrot Pezoporus wallicus in south-eastern Queensland. Corella. 15:143-149.

McFarland, D.C. (1991b). The biology of the Ground Parrot, Pezoporus wallicus, in Queensland. II. Spacing, calling and breeding behaviour. Wildlife Research. 18:185-197.

McNee, S. (2000). Implementing the Western Ground Parrot Interim Recovery Plan. Search for the Western Ground Parrot in Cape Arid National Park and nearby areas June 1999 to June 2000. Western Australian Bird Notes.

McNee, S. & B. Newbey (2003). Search for the Western Ground Parrot in Cape Arid National Park and Nearby Areas May 2003. Unpublished report to the South Coast Threatened Birds Recovery Team.

McNee, S.A. (1999). Report on Western Ground Parrot Survey at Waychinicup and Manypeaks April to October 1998. Supplement to Western Australia Bird Notes. Sup.. 3.

Meredith, C.W. & A.C. Isles (1980). A Study of the Ground Parrot (Pezoporus wallicus) in Victoria. Ministry of Conservation Environmental Studies Division, Victo.

Meredith, C.W., A.M. Gilmore & A.C. Isles (1984). The Ground Parrot in south-eastern Australia: a fire adapted species?. Australian Journal of Ecology. 9:367-380.

Moore, S., M. Cavana, K. Gillen, C. Hart, S. Hopper, K. Orr & W. Schmidt (1992). Fitzgerald River National Park Management Plan 1991-2001. Perth: Department of Conservation and Land Management.

Murphy, S., L. Joseph, A. Burbidge & J. Austin (2011). A cryptic and critically endangered species revealed by mitochondrial DNA analyses – the Western Ground Parrot. Conservation Genetics. 12:595-600.

Newbey, B. (2003a). Western Ground Parrot project. Western Australian Naturalist. 105:12.

Newbey, B. (2003b). Western Ground Parrots: bad news. Western Australian Bird Notes. 106:9.

Newbey, B. (May 2007). Personal communication.

Newbey, B., D. Chemello, S. McNee & M. Barth (2006). Search for the Western Ground Parrot in Nuytsland Nature Reserve and Cape Arid National Park 2005-2006. Unpublished report to Birds Australia Western Australia, Perth.

Newbey, K., B. Newbey & K. Bradby (1983). Notes on the Swamp Parrot. Western Australian Naturalist. 15:145-146.

Salvadori, T. (1891). Catalogue of Birds in the British Museum. In: Catalogure of the Psittaci (Parrots). 20. British Museum, London.

Schodde, R. & I.J. Mason (1997). Aves (Columbidae to Coracidae). In: Houston, W.W.K. & A. Wells, eds. Zoological Catologue of Australia. 37.2. Melbourne: CSIRO Publishing.

Serventy, D.L. & H.M. Whittell (1976). Birds of Western Australia. Perth: University of Western Australia Press.

Watkins, D. (1985). Report of the RAOU Ground Parrot Survey in Western Australia. RAOU Report. 15. Melbourne, Vic: Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union.

Watkins, D. & A.H. Burbidge (1992). Conservation of the Ground Parrot in Western Australia. RAOU Report Series. 83:46--49.

Western Australian Department of Environment and Conservation (WA DEC) (2007). Management Plan for Esperance Coastal Reserves Issues Paper. Department of Environment and Conservation, Perth.

Whelan, J.K. (2003). The Impact of Phytophthora cinnamomi on the Abundance and Mycophagous Diet of the Bush Rat (Rattus fuscipes). Hons. Thesis. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

Whitlock, F.L. (1914). Notes on the Spotless Crake and Western Ground Parrot. Emu. 13:202--205.

Whittell, H.M. (1952). The visit of Sydney William Jackson to Western Australia in 1912 in search of the Noisy Scrub-bird. Western Australian Naturalist. 3:73-80.

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Citation: Department of the Environment (2014). Pezoporus flaviventris in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Mon, 28 Jul 2014 15:22:33 +1000.