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Media Release
The Hon Dr Sharman Stone MP
Federal Member for Murray
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister
for the Environment and Heritage

16 September 1999


Tasmanians living in or near areas inhabited by the endangered Swift Parrot are being asked to take simple steps to make their homes and backyards bird-safe during the forthcoming breeding season.

More than 30 Swift Parrots are killed or injured in Tasmania each summer after flying into windows, wire mesh fences and other man-made structures.

Speaking in Hobart today, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Sharman Stone, MP, said public support could ultimately mean the difference between the Swift Parrot surviving or becoming extinct.

Dr Stone said the remaining 1,000 breeding pairs of the Swift Parrot were returning to Tasmania later than usual this year, so people still had time to reduce bird hazards around the home.

"As unlikely as it sounds, collisions with man-made objects like windows, chain-link fences, powerlines and vehicles, pose a major threat to the Swift Parrot."

"Loss of Blue Gum habitat, the Swift Parrot's main source of food and shelter, through land clearing is also a major concern. Blue Gums remain under threat from unregulated clearing on private land for agriculture, cropping or woodchipping," Dr Stone said.

Around 80% of the Swift Parrots preferred Blue Gum habitat is located on private land.

As part of a three-year Natural Heritage Trust project to conserve the endangered species, a brochure outlining ways people can prevent birds from colliding with windows and other objects will shortly be released.

"The brochure will include information about first aid for birds which are stunned or injured after collisions, and I would urge anyone living along the birds' flight path to obtain a copy," Dr Stone said.

The simple tips to make homes bird-safe include:
  • draw curtains or blinds, or place pot plants, mobiles or wind chimes in front of windows;
  • cover the outside of windows with netting, leaving a space so that if a bird hits the netting its impact is cushioned;
  • tie strips of material or ribbons along chain-link fences, or cover with shade cloth; and
  • when designing a building, ensure windows are not on opposite sides of a room, forming an inviting flight path.

The $350,000 project to conserve the Swift Parrot involves the Federal, Tasmanian, Victorian and New South Wales governments, Birds Australia, the World Wide Fund for Nature, Greening Australia and a host of volunteer groups, including 20 Tasmanian Schools.

"Without the dedication of volunteers, such as school students and the general public, and the cooperation of a range of community-based and government organisations, we would not be able to protect this species," Dr Stone said.

Apart from reducing hazards for the birds, the project's emphasis is on revegetation and management of the birds' fragmented habitat, the rehabilitation of injured birds and regular surveys of bird numbers.

Dr Stone today visited Mount Nelson Primary School to view the students' contribution, including how they have improved the visibility of tennis court nets by attaching streamers, and their effort to increase birds' habitat by planting Blue Gums.

"The students at Mount Nelson Primary School have set a wonderful example for schools around Australia by showing what can be done when a school community adopts a threatened species and takes practical action to help its recovery," Dr Stone said.

The Swift Parrot is highly migratory, spending the winter months in woodlands and forests from south-east Queensland to Victoria, and breeding during the summer months in Tasmania.

The birds feed on the nectar of the Tasmanian Blue Gum and Swamp Gum during the breeding season. Blue Gums take 12 years to mature and begin flowering, but Swift Parrots only regularly feed from trees over 30 years old.

The Swift Parrot Recovery project is funded through the Federal Government's $1.5 billion Natural Heritage Trust's Endangered Species Program, and is being coordinated by the Tasmanian Government.

For further information please contact:
Nicole Johnston (Dr Stone's office) 0419 219 415
Penny Anderson (Principal, Mount Nelson Primary) 03 6223 2879

Commonwealth of Australia