Ecologists capture rare image of critically endangered parrot

By Australian Geographic 7 December 2020
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The western ground parrot is rarely seen, so, when images such as this emerge, ecologists become hopeful for the species.

It’s difficult to find hope in the year 2020, but ecologists are jumping for joy after a camera trap managed to snap an image of the elusive western ground parrot. 

Occupying the coastal heath of southwest Western Australia, the bright green western ground parrot is considered to be one of the world’s rarest birds, with less than 150 individuals left in the wild. 

Scientists first sounded the alarm back in 2011, when the bird was found to be genetically distinct from its eastern cousin, and in very small numbers due to predation from feral animals, including cats and foxes. 

In 2013, ecologists with the Western Australian Government set up camera traps at Nuytsland Nature Reserve and Cape Arid National Park near Esperance. However, recordings of the bird are few and far between

“This parrot just happened to walk in front of the camera and trigger it, which is very exciting,” ecologist Sarah Comer told the ABC.

“People always love to see photos, and camera traps give us so many insights into what species are out in these remote areas.

“Having an image of the western ground parrot is just another way that we can show people that these birds actually do exist and they’re not just a figment of our imagination.”

Sarah says the recording is a good sign. “We’ve been quite relieved to find several areas that have good numbers of parrots in recent months.

“The one that’s in this image on the camera trap is actually in an area that was burnt in 2002. There are a few refuges within those larger fire scars that the birds are able to use, which is fantastic.”