Western Ground Parrot

The Western Ground Parrot (Pezoporus wallicus flaviventris) is considered the fourth rarest parrot of mainland Australia; and is federallylisted as endangered.This species is only found in localities.

The greatest risk to the existence of this species of ground parrot is the loss of habitat caused by the cultivation of large coastal areas. Predation by foxes and cats is also taking a toll on this species.

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    Western Ground Parrot
    Western Ground Parrot

    Distribution / Range

    They occur in the extreme southeast of Queensland to southwest Australia, Tasmania and some off-shore islands.

    They are found in the coastal areas of western south-western Australia from Perth north to Geraldton and along the South Coast east to Israelite Bay.

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      Some local seasonal migrations may occur, probably dependant on availability of food.

      Their preferred habitat includes the marshy coastal plain without trees, reed beds with low bushes, restricted to button grass areas.

      This species may depend on naturally occurring fires allowing new growth and renewed settlement by the Ground Parrot – however, inappropriate fire events, such as high fire frequency or fire exclusion can adversely affect the survival of some native species, including the Ground Parrots.

      This solitary, shy and mostly silent parrot is perfectly camouflaged by its plumage. If disturbed it runs away rather than fly; then lands again a short distance away. Its flight is characterized by loud, whirring wingbeats and erratic with short gliding phases.

      Western Ground Parrot

      Threats

      • Fires: Humans have impacted on Ground Parrots through clearing or changing their habitat. Too-frequent fire regimes caused a general decline in the population and a fragmentation of their habitats. However fire exclusion can also adversely affect the survival of some native species, including the Ground Parrots, as natural wild fires are important to maintain natural ecosystems.
      • Habitat Destruction / Loss: Historical loss and fragmentation of habitat through clearing for agriculture and residential developments. Dieback of dwarf-shrub habitats from Phytophthora fungus may also be a potential threat.
      • Predation by foxes and cats is also a threat.
      • Avian Diseases: Psittacine Circoviral Disease (PCD)

      Diet / Feeding:

      Western Ground Parrots eat the seeds of various grasses, especially button grass (Mesomelaena sphaerocephala).

      Ground Parrots usually feed on the ground, eating seeds of sedges, grasses, herbaceous plants and shrubs. Although the Ground Parrot is an opportunistic feeder the bulk of its diet probably comprises species from the Restionaceae family.

      Western Ground Parrot

      Calls / Vocalization:

      This species is mostly quiet and silent in flight. It has a distinctive call – given at dawn and dusk – that consists of a series of piercing whistles, rising in steps, with each note flowing on almost unbroken, but abruptly higher than the preceding note. The variable high-pitched call is audible for some distance, and is answered by neighboring members of species.

      Description

      The Ground Parrot is distinctive, bright grass-green, long-tailed, ground-dwelling parrot with an average length of 30 cm or 12 inches (from beak to tip of tail).

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        The western subspecies is similar to the nominate form featured above, but the feathers of abdomen and under tail-coverts are pale yellow with indistinct black barring.

        The coloration of the two Pezoporus species and the Kakapo is similar – yellowish-green with darker barring, somewhat reminiscent of the head and back of the wild-type budgerigar. This is not an indication of a true relationship, however, but either adaptation to a particular lifestyle or a feature retained from ancestral parrots; probably the latter as barred plumage is found all over the family, from the tiny tiger parrots to female cockatiels.

        Males and females look alike.

        Immatures look like adults, but have a slightly duller plumage. They lack the orange-red band to the forehead that can be seen in the adult. The head, nape, upper back and breast are green, each feather with distinct black shaft markings. The tail is shorter and their irises are brown.

        Breeding

        The breeding period stretches from September to January (one record in March). This parrot constructs a nest consisting of an excavation in soil, lined with fine twigs, leaves, fern and grass. The nest is usually well hidden under small bushes or tussock hanging over nest.

        The female incubates the eggs and broods the young. During this time of incubation and brooding, the female is fed by the male, who also feeds the young when they hatch.

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          The average clutch consists of 3 to 4 eggs and the incubation period is believed to be 21 days. The chicks are well camouflaged with thick greyish-black down. They remain in the nest for two to three weeks and the young are fed about three times a day.

          Taxonomy

          Genus: Scientific: Pezoporus … English: Ground Parrots … Dutch: Grondpapegaaien … German: Erdsittiche … French: Pezoport terrestre

          Species: Scientific: Pezoporus wallicus flaviventris … English: Western Ground Parrot … Dutch: Westelijke Grondpapegaai … German: Westlicher Erdsittich … French: Pezoport terrestre à ventre jaune … CITES I … Protected Species

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