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 Vulnerable
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan required, included on the Commenced List (1/11/2009).
 
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans National Recovery Plan for the Superb Parrot Polytelis swainsonii (Baker-Gabb, D., 2011) [Recovery Plan].
 
Other EPBC Act Plans Threat Abatement Plan for Beak and Feather Disease Affecting Endangered Psittacine Species (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2005q) [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].
 
State Government
    Documents and Websites
ACT:Superb Parrot (Polytelis swainsonii): A Vulnerable species. Action Plan No. 17 (ACT Government, 1999c) [Information Sheet].
ACT:Woodlands for Wildlife: ACT Lowland Woodland Conservation Strategy (ACT Government, 2004) [State Action Plan].
ACT:Threatened Species and Communities of the ACT. Superb Parrot (Polytelis swainsonii). A vulnerable species (Australian Capital Territory Department of Territory and Municipal Services (ACT TAMS), 2005b) [Information Sheet].
NSW:New South Wales Murray Biodiversity Management Plan (Murray Catchment Management Authority (Murray CMA), 2012) [State Action Plan].
NSW:Trees with Hollows. North east NSW. Natural Resource Management Advisory Series: Note 1 (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2004g) [Information Sheet].
NSW:Superb parrot - profile (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2005jm) [Internet].
VIC:Flora and Fauna Guarantee Action Statement 33-Superb Parrot Polytelis swainsonii (Weber, R. & L. Ahern, 2003) [State Action Plan].
State Listing Status
ACT: Listed as Vulnerable (Nature Conservation Act 1980 (Australian Capital Territory): 2013 list)
NSW: Listed as Vulnerable (Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (New South Wales): December 2013 list)
VIC: Listed as Threatened (Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 (Victoria): February 2014 list)
Non-statutory Listing Status
IUCN: Listed as Least Concern (Global Status: IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: 2013.1 list)
VIC: Listed as Endangered (Advisory List of Threatened Vertebrate Fauna in Victoria: 2013 list)
Scientific name Polytelis swainsonii [738]
Family Psittacidae:Psittaciformes:Aves:Chordata:Animalia
Species author (Desmarest,1826)
Infraspecies author  
Reference  
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: Polytelis swainsonii

Common name: Superb Parrot

Other names: Barraband Parrot, Scarlet-breasted Parrot, Barraband Parakeet, Barraband, Green Leek (Higgins 1999).

The Superb Parrot is considered to be a conventionally accepted species (Christidis & Boles 1994; Higgins 1999). It does not show any geographic variation within its range (Higgins 1999).

The Superb Parrot is a medium-sized (length: 40 cm; weight: 130–160 g) parrot with bright green plumage and a long tail. The males and females are dimorphic. Males are generally bright green, though slightly paler and yellowish below, with a blueish wash on the crown and nape, a bright-yellow face and bright red band across the throat, slightly darker green tail, and a blue leading edge to the upperwing. The bill is brownish red, the eyes red; and the legs and feet are grey. Females are paler than males, being generally dull green with a blueish-green wash to the face, grading to greyish green on the upper throat, a pale pinkish patch on the lower throat, and a dull yellow-green underbody with pink-red thighs. The bill is brownish red, the eyes crimson and the legs and feet grey. Juveniles are generally similar to adult females except without any blueish wash to the face or pink wash to the throat (Higgins 1999).

The species is usually seen in small flocks, and occasionally larger ones of up to 60 or more birds. When females are incubating, flocks may be comprised only of males (Davey & Purchase 2004; Frith & Calaby 1953; Keartland 1903; Schrader 1980; Webster & Ahern 1992).

The Superb Parrot occurs only in south-eastern Australia. The Superb Parrot is found in NSW and northern Victoria, where it occurs on the inland slopes of the Great Divide and on adjacent plains, especially along the major river-systems; vagrants have also been recorded in southern Queensland.

In NSW, it mostly occurs west of the Great Divide, where it mainly inhabits the Riverina, the South-west Slope and Southern Tableland Regions: west to Mathoura, Boorooban, Goolgowi, and east to Canberra, Yass and Cowra. Its range extends north to around Narrabri and Wee Waa in the North-west Plain Region, from a line joining Coonabarabran and Narrabri, and extending at least as far west as Tottenham and Quambone, with occasional records even further west.

In Victoria, the Superb Parrot is confined to the north of the State, with records mainly around Barmah State Forest/State Park, with occasional records near Strathmerton, in the Killawarra State Forest and near Mooroopna. The species has recently been recorded in southern Queensland near Eulo and also between Warwick and Goondiwindi.

The breeding range of the Superb Parrot is divided into three main areas: the first, along the Murray and Edward Rivers; the second, along the Murrumbidgee River; and the third, in a triangle bounded by Molong, Yass and Young (Barrett et al. 2003; Birds Australia n.d.; Christie 2004; Davidson & Chambers 1991; Higgins 1999; Webster 1988; Webster & Ahern 1992).

The extent of occurrence of the Superb Parrot is estimated, with high reliability, to be 81 000 km² (Garnett & Crowley 2000).

The area of occupancy of the Superb Parrot is estimated at 1000 km². However, this estimate is considered to be of low reliability (Garnett & Crowley 2000).

The breeding range of the Superb Parrot is restricted to three distinct and geographically separate locations (Barrett et al. 2003; Birds Australia n.d.; Christie 2004; Davidson & Chambers 1991; Higgins 1999; Webster 1988; Webster & Ahern 1992).

The Superb Parrot is a popular cage bird, and is widely kept in captivity (Harman 1962; Lendon 1979; Low 1980). There have been no known reintroductions into the wild.

The Superb Parrot has been well studied. There have been regular surveys conducted during the breeding season which have determined the number of nests or potential nests present in several areas, as well as the habitat requirements of the species (Christie 2004; Davey & Purchase 2004; Davidson & Chambers 1991; Webster 1988, 1991, 1991b, 1997, 1998, 1999a, 2001b, 2003c; Webster & Ahern 1992). There have also been studies on the effects of timber harvesting and foraging requirements (Leslie 2005), and a bioclimatic analysis of the requirements of the species (Manning et al. 2005).

It has been estimated that the total breeding population of Superb Parrots consists of about 6500 birds. However, this estimate is considered to be of low reliability (Garnett & Crowley 2000).

It was formerly considered that there were two separate populations of the Superb Parrot, one in southern NSW and northern Victoria, and the other further north in NSW (Forshaw & Cooper 1969, 1981), but it is now apparent that only a single population exists (Forshaw & Cooper 2002; Garnett & Crowley 2000; Higgins 1999; Webster & Ahern 1992).

The population of the Superb Parrot is said to be in decline, though estimates of population numbers are of low reliability (Garnett & Crowley 2000). In some areas the population is considered stable, although in others the populations are thought to have fluctuated during the 20th century (Webster & Ahern 1992). The range, and thus the population size, of the Superb Parrot has contracted in Victoria (Webster & Ahern 1992): the species formerly occurred, at least occasionally, as far south as Bacchus Marsh, Melton and Keilor, north-west of Melbourne, in the 19th and early 20th centuries (Batey 1907; Keartland 1903). However, by the 1930s it was only occasionally recorded around Wangaratta (Miller 1933) and around Mooroopna by the 1950s (Bedggood 1958). The breeding range has also contracted; for example, in northern Victoria it formerly bred as far east as Rutherglen, and was recorded breeding near Mooroopna until the late 1950s (Bedggood 1958; McEvey 1965). It also bred in the ACT until the late 1960s, although few breeding pairs have been recorded since then (Davey 1997; Taylor & COG 1992).

The population has undergone extreme fluctuations throughout the 20th century (Webster & Ahern 1988). Some of these have been in response to human-induced factors; for example, the population declined greatly in the 1920s when poisoned grain was laid out to kill crop raiders such as Galahs (Eolophus roseicapillus) and Rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) (Egger 1911; Le Souëf 1921, 1923, 1924). It is unclear whether other fluctuations have been in response to natural phenomena, such as good and bad seasons, or other unknown factors (Webster & Ahern 1992).

The key breeding populations occur in the Riverina and South-west Slope Regions of NSW, and spill over from there into northern Victoria; most breeding records emanate from these areas (Barrett et al. 2003; Blakers et al. 1984; Higgins 1999; Webster & Ahern 1992). The Superb Parrot also occurs further north, in the Central-west Slope and North-west Plain Regions, but these individuals possibly emanate from breeding areas further south, and coincide with part of the population vacating these southern areas (Webster 1988; Webster & Ahern 1992).

The generation time of the Superb Parrot is estimated, with low reliability, at five years (Garnett & Crowley 2000).

Cross-breeding with other species has not been recorded in the wild.

The species has been recorded in the following reserves: Canberra Nature Reserve, Goobang National Park, Gundabooka National Park, Ingalba Nature Reserve, Mundoonen Nature Reserve, Nangar National Park, Narrandera Nature Reserve, Pucawan Nature Reserve, River Murray Reserve, Charcoal Tank Nature Reserve, Warrumbungle National Park and Weddin Mountains National Park. In addition, the Millewa, Cuba and Gulpa Island State Forests in southern NSW and the Barmah State Forest in northern Victoria are key strongholds of the species, but do not have formal reserve status. (Birds Australia n.d.; Bye 1990; Davidson & Chambers 1991; Higgins 1999; Leslie 2005; Webster 1988, 1991b, 1993a, 1997, 1999a, 2001b, 2003c; Webster & Ahern 1992).

The Superb Parrot mainly inhabits forests and woodlands dominated by eucalypts, especially River Red Gums (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) and box eucalypts such as Yellow Box (Eucalyptus melliodora) or Grey Box (E. microcarpa). The species also seasonally occurs in box-pine (Callitris) and Boree (Acacia pendula) woodlands (Webster 1998).

The Superb Parrot uses a number of habitats for different activities. Superb Parrots breed in either River Red Gum forests and woodlands or box woodlands (Webster 1998). In the Riverina Region of NSW and adjacent areas of Victoria, the Superb Parrot usually breeds in forests dominated by large mature River Red Gums, typically close to watercourses, though nests are also occasionally located in Blakely's Red Gum (E. blakelyi), Grey Box (E. microcarpa), Red Box (E. polyanthemos) and Inland Red Box (E. intertexta) (Webster 1988). In the South-west Slope Region of NSW, Superb Parrots breed in box-gum forests and woodlands dominated by River Red Gum, Blakely's Red Gum, Apple Box (E. bridgesiana), Grey Box, White Box (E. albens) and Red Box (Webster 1998).

There is a positive correlation between the locations of Superb Parrot nest sites and the occurrence of extensive tracts of suitable foraging habitat (Webster 1988). In the Murray-Riverina, nest sites are usually located no further than 10 km from foraging habitat, and in the South-west Slope Region, breeding and foraging habitats may coincide at some sites, and are no further than 10 km away at other sites (Webster 1988, 1998).

In the Riverina Region of NSW and adjacent areas of Victoria, the Superb Parrot forages in box eucalypt woodland, particularly that dominated by Yellow Box or Grey Box, and occasionally Black Box (E. largiflorens). In the South-west Slope Region, the species forages in box-gum woodlands dominated by White Box, Yellow Box and Blakely's Red Gum, and also in crops of wheat (Triticum aestivum) or oats (Avena sativa) (Webster 1988). Outside the breeding season, some Superb Parrots forage in scattered Boree woodlands or box-pine woodlands between the Murrumbidgee and Murray Rivers (Webster 1998).

Because the Superb Parrots often use different habitats for different activities, the timing of their occurrence in each habitat may vary with the time of year. Between mid-January and early April, Superb Parrots do not use the River Red Gum breeding habitats on the Edward and Murrumbidgee Rivers, and their whereabouts at this time is unknown (Webster 1988). Between April and August, they inhabit forests and woodlands dominated by River Red Gum, box-gum, White Cypress Pine (Callitris glaucophylla) and Boree (Webster 1998).

The Superb Parrot inhabits listed threatened habitats such as grassy Yellow Box-Red Gum woodlands listed as Endangered under the Nature Conservation Act 1980 (ACT Government 1999c) and White Box-Yellow Box-Blakely's Red Gum Grassy Woodland and Derived Native Grassland listed as Critically Endangered under the EPBC Act (NSW NPWS 2002c). These habitats are also home to several other threatened species of birds, including the Bush Stone-curlew (Burhinus grallarius), Swift Parrot (Lathamus discolor), Brown Treecreeper (Climacteris picumnus), Painted Honeyeater (Grantiella picta), Regent Honeyeater (Xanthomyza Phrygia) and Hooded Robin (Melanodryas cucullata) (ACT Government 1999c; Tzaros 2005a). Some threatened mammals such as the Squirrel Glider (Petaurus norfolcensis) and Brush-tailed Phascogale (Phascogale tapoatafa), also inhabit similar hollows in large trees (Gibbons & Lindenmayer 2002).

There is no information on the age of sexual maturity of wild Superb Parrots, but captive birds usually first breed successfully when two to three years old; breeding attempts made before this age are usually unsuccessful (Low 1980). There is no published information on the life expectancy of the Superb Parrot, but anecdotal information suggests that some individuals may live for 25 years or more (Webster & Ahern 1992). There is no published information on causes of natural mortality such as predation, but there are a number of raptors which regularly kill parrots that occur in the areas inhabited by the Superb Parrot (Marchant & Higgins 1993). Various goannas, such as the Lace Monitor (Varanus varius), are major predators of nestlings (Cogger 1983), and are likely to eat Superb Parrot eggs or nestlings in their nest hollows.

The Superb Parrot breeds between September and January (Forshaw & Cooper 2002; North 1901–1914; Webster 1988). Between four and six white eggs are laid on a bed of decayed wood in a hollow branch or a hole in the trunk of a large tree, usually a eucalypt, especially in River Red Gums and Blakely's Red Gum, but also other species including Yellow Box, Grey Box, Apple Box, White Box, Inland Red Box and Red Box (Christie 2004; Davey 1997; Frith & Calaby 1953; Higgins 1999; Leslie 2005; Manning et al. 2004; Webster 1988, 1998). Nest sites are always within 10 km of areas of suitable foraging habitat, and in the South-west Slope Region, breeding and foraging habitats may coincide (Webster 1988). Nest trees are usually near a watercourse (in the Riverina, rivers were, on average, 25.8 m away), and may be living and healthy, or dead trees (Webster 1988, 1998). In the South-west Slope Regions the majority of nests (70%) were made in Blakely's Red Gums that were either dead or were affected by dieback (Manning et al. 2004). The mean height of nest hollows in the Riverina Region was 17.4 m; 9.7 m in the South-west Slopes Region of NSW; and 23.9 m in northern Victoria (Webster 1988; Webster & Ahern 1992). Incubation of the eggs is by the female only. During the incubation period, the male feeds the female by regurgitation two or three times each day, either at the nest or in a nearby tree (Forshaw & Cooper 1981; Webster & Ahern 1992). In captivity, the incubation period lasts 22 days (West 1957).

The Superb Parrot forages on many different species of plants, most of which occur in woodlands dominated by gum and box eucalypts, and, in some areas, in woodlands dominated by Boree, native pine, Callitris, or box-native pine associations (Higgins 1999; Webster 1988). When foraging on the ground, Superb Parrots often eat the seeds of plants such as the native Ringed Wallaby-grass (Danthonia caespitosa), barley-grasses (Critesion), as well as cereal crops including wheat, oats and canola (Brassica napus); and spilt grain (Christie 2004; Webster 1988; Webster & Ahern 1992). They also eat the seed-pods of many understorey species of wattles such as Gold-dust Wattle (Acacia acinacea), Silver Wattle (A. dealbata) and Deane's Wattle (A. deanei) and cultivated Cootamundra Wattle (A. baileyana) (Christie 2004; Webster 1988, 1991). When foraging in the forest canopy, Superb Parrots eat the flowers and fruits of eucalypts, especially in spring and summer (Christie 2004; Frith & Calaby 1953; Webster 1988), the berries of mistletoe, such as Box Mistletoe (Amyema miquelii) and Grey Mistletoe (A. quandang) (Webster 1998), and, in winter, lerps from the foliage of eucalypts (Webster 1998).

The Superb Parrot feeds mainly on the ground (Frith & Calaby 1953), with one study recording that of all foraging observations, 55% were of Parrots foraging on the ground (Webster 1988). Superb Parrots will also forage on spilt grain along roadsides, resulting in large numbers of collisions with vehicles (Klapste 1977; Taylor & COG 1992; Vestjens 1973; Webster & Ahern 1992). Early in the 20th century, many Superb Parrots were killed by eating poisoned seeds intended for the control of other ground-feeding fauna, mainly rabbits and Galahs (Egger 1911; Le Souëf 1921, 1923, 1924).

At least part of the population of the Superb Parrot undertakes regular seasonal movements, vacating the breeding area after the conclusion of the breeding season, and then returning in spring, while others remain in the breeding areas throughout the year (Blakers et al. 1984; Webster 1988; Webster & Ahern 1992). Superb Parrots occur throughout the year in the Riverina, but are seldom observed in the South-west Slope Region or northern Victoria during winter, when they appear to disperse to the eucalypt-pine woodlands of west-central and north-central NSW (Webster 1988, 1998). The exact relationship between breeding and non-breeding ranges is unclear, as there is no strong evidence to differentiate dispersal from migration in this species (Higgins 1999).

The species has been described variously as resident (Schrader 1980), dispersive (Webster 1988; Webster & Ahern 1992), migratory (Schrader 1980; Taylor & COG 1992), partly migratory (Hoskin 1991; Higgins 1999; Morris et al. 1981), nomadic (Sharrock 1981) or partly nomadic (Hoskin 1991). The movements of Superb Parrots may be determined by factors such as the flowering of eucalypts, ripening of grain or periods of drought (Chisholm 1938; Miller 1933; Schrader 1980; Simson 1954; Webster 1988; Webster & Ahern 1992).

When making local foraging movements, Superb Parrots usually move along wooded corridors, seldom crossing extensive open areas (Webster 1988; Webster & Ahern 1992).
There is little data on the home ranges and territories of the Superb Parrot, but they are known not to defend large territories around the nest, defending only the hollow itself and its immediate vicinity against competitors, both interspecific and intraspecific (Leslie 2005). The species sometimes nests in small colonies, comprising up to nine pairs (Webster 1988), and up to four nests have been recorded in the same tree (Keartland 1903; North 1901–1914; Higgins 1999; Leslie 2005). If two nests are 200 m apart or further, they are considered to be in different colonies (Webster & Ahern 1992). Details of home ranges of the Superb Parrot away from breeding sites are unknown, but some males are known to forage up to 9 km away from their nest-sites (Webster 1997).

Distinctiveness
The Superb Parrot is distinctive, and, with reasonable views, is not usually confused with other species. However, when flying birds are seen only in silhouette they could potentially be confused with the Cockatiel (Nymphicus hollandicus) (Higgins 1999). The Superb Parrot call is distinctive (Higgins 1999).

Detectability
The Superb Parrot is generally active and conspicuous, although it is often quiet during the heat of the day, and can be difficult to detect when feeding quietly in the canopy (Higgins 1999). The call is loud and penetrating, and the species is often heard before it is seen (Higgins 1999).

Recommended Methods
The Superb Parrot can be surveyed using area searches or transect surveys of suitable habitat, preferably in the early to mid-morning and evening. Vehicle-based transects are appropriate in areas where most habitat is restricted to roadside remnants. It can be detected by sight, usually while in flight, or by its distinctive call (Manning et al. 2004).

Habitat Clearing and Degradation
The most significant threat to the Superb Parrot is widespread clearing, degradation and fragmentation of box woodland throughout the species' range, especially breeding and foraging habitats, and corridors of vegetation used for regular movements (Webster 1988). The specific combination of nesting and foraging habitat required by this species means that degradation or destruction of either habitat renders the area unsuitable for breeding. Along the Murray River between Tocumwal and Yarrawonga, box woodland (the key foraging habitat for the Superb Parrot) has been cleared from areas within 10 km of breeding sites in River Red Gum forests, and nesting no longer occurs in this area. Further removal of box woodland is likely to result in a reduction in the number of breeding sites, and increased fragmentation of the species' breeding range (Webster 1998). In the South-west Slope Region, clearing of box woodland has been extensive, and suitable habitat for the Superb Parrot now exists only in wooded roadside reserves, travelling stock routes and camping reserves, and other small remnant patches of woodland, many of which are on freehold land (Christie 2004; Webster 1998). It is notable that, in the South-west Slope Region and around Goolgowi, the foraging habitat also serves as breeding habitat (Webster 1998). Although box woodlands within the breeding range are not generally regarded as valuable for sawlogs, they are extensively harvested for fencing timber and firewood (ACT Government 1999c; Christie 2004; Webster 1998).

In addition to breeding and foraging habitat, the Superb Parrot is threatened by clearing of wooded corridors that the species relies on when moving locally to find food, and when moving between breeding and non-breeding habitats (Christie 2004; Garnett & Crowley 2000; Webster 1988; Webster & Ahern 1992). The expansion of urban areas of Canberra has also resulted in the clearing of large tracts of forest and woodland, formerly suitable for breeding (ACT Government 1999c; Davey 1997; Taylor & COG 1992).

The felling of nest trees in both the Riverina and South-west Slope Regions is another major threat to the Superb Parrot. Hardwood timber harvesting of River Red Gum forests reduces the number of older trees, thus slowing the process of development of suitable nest hollows. Between 1890 and 1970, many large River Red Gums which may have been nest trees were felled, and many others were ring-barked (Webster 1998).

Fire may also cause the degradation of breeding and foraging habitats (ACT Government 1999c; Webster & Ahern 1992).

Grazing
Grazing by stock can reduce the amount of food available to Superb Parrots, especially at critical times (ACT Government 1999c; Webster 1998). For example, in Gulpa Island State Forest, the fruit of the Dwarf Cherry (Exocarpos strictus) provides an important source of food for Superb Parrot fledglings. During dry years, grass-cover within the forest is patchy, so that Dwarf Cherry shrubs are grazed heavily by stock, which may, in turn, influence the survival of Parrot fledgelings (Webster 1998). Grazing may also cause repeated disturbance to Parrots during foraging on the ground (Webster 1998).

Hydrological Changes
The exploitation and regulation of water in watercourses throughout the range of the Superb Parrot directly affects the health of both the breeding and foraging habitats. Intensification of irrigation within the Murrumbidgee and Murray River valleys is resulting in the decline of remnant woodlands through rising water tables, placing remnant stands of trees under stress (Porteners 1993). This loss of trees is especially important in areas used as feeding sites during both the breeding and non-breeding seasons.

In addition, highly regulated waterflows in the Edward River threaten trees used for nesting by the Superb Parrot. River Red Gums can only withstand continuous flooding for about three years before they begin to show signs of stress, and the continuous high flows in the Edward River do not allow the forest to dry out, leading to a significant decline in the health of nest trees (Webster 1998).

Competition for nest sites
Competition for nest hollows may become a limiting factor for the species (ACT Government 1999c; Christie 2004; Webster 1998). Introduced species such as Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris), Common Myna (Acridotheres tristis) and Honey Bees (Apis mellifera) are competitors for nest hollows (ACT Government 1999c; Christie 2004), and native competitors, such as the Galah (Eolophus roseicapilla), Long-billed Corella (Cacatua tenuirostris) and Little Corella (C. sanguinea) have greatly increased their populations in recent years (Webster 1998), leading to increased competition for a declining number of nest hollows. The availability of food, however, is considered a more important factor in some areas in limiting the size of the population of the Superb Parrot (Leslie 2005).

Poisoning
Superb Parrots are also adversely affected by insecticides sprayed onto crops to control insect pests (ACT Government 1999c; Webster & Ahern 1992). Early in the 20th century great numbers were killed by poisoned grain intended for the eradication of Galahs and rabbits (Egger 1911; Le Souëf 1921, 1923, 1924). They are also said to have destroyed crops of early settlers (White 1912) and may have been shot while doing so (Higgins 1999).

Other
Other factors affecting the survival of Superb Parrots in the wild include: trapping of Superb Parrots, and the removal of their eggs or chicks from nests (Taylor & COG 1992; Webster 1998; Webster & Ahern 1992); disturbance from recreational activities (Webster & Ahern 1992); and being killed by collisions with vehicles while foraging on roads, especially during harvesting season, when Superb Parrots congregate on roadsides to feed on spilt grain (Garnett & Crowley 2000; Klapste 1977; Taylor & COG 1992; Vestjens 1973; Webster & Ahern 1992). These factors, however, have a much less severe affect on the population than habitat loss (ACT Government 1999c; Garnett & Crowley 2000; Webster 1998).

Beak and Feather Disease
The wild population of the Superb Parrot may also be subject to disease. Beak and Feather Disease is an infectious affliction suffered by parrots, caused by the Beak and Feather Disease circovirus. This common disease apparently originated in Australia. It is capable of causing very high death rates in nestlings, and the potential effects of the disease on parrot populations vary from inconsequential to devastating, depending on environmental conditions, and the general health and immunity of the parrots. Lesions suggesting Beak and Feather Disease virus have been identified in Superb Parrots. It can be introduced to threatened populations of parrots via the movements of common species carrying the disease (DEH 2005q).

The Superb Parrot is potentially vulnerable to the effects of droughts (Webster & Ahern 1992).

The main biological characteristic of the Superb Parrot which threatens its survival is its special requirement for specific breeding habitat (River Red Gum forests) and specific foraging habitat (box woodland) to be located no more than 10 km from each other. The species' survival has been threatened by the clearance of both habitats (Garnett & Crowley 2000).

Garnett & Crowley (2000) recommend protection from clearing of remaining woodland areas regularly used throughout the species' range, in order to protect Superb Parrot habitat. They suggest all sites on public land that are known to be used by Superb Parrots for breeding or foraging, or forming regular routes for seasonal movements should be placed under secure conservation management, especially those on timber reserves, transport corridors and local government land. On freehold land within the species' range, Garnett & Crowley (2000) recommend incentives be used where appropriate, to promote nature conservation through habitat regeneration, revegetation, grazing management and remnant connectivity. These authors also suggest that the removal of firewood from woodlands used by Superb Parrots be controlled.

The Department of the Environment and Heritage has developed a Threat Abatement Plan for Beak and Feather Disease (DEH 2005q) which aims to:

  • Ensure that Beak and Feather Disease does not increase the likelihood of extinction or escalate the threatened status of parrots.
  • Minimise the chance of Beak and Feather Disease becoming a key threatening process for other species of parrots.

The following Government grants have been awarded for conservation projects benefiting the Superb Parrot:

Murringo and East Young Landcare Group (NSW) received $10 200 of funding through the Threatened Species Network Community Grants in 2000–01, part of which was for the creation of a corridor to link two important blocks of habitat for this species.

Birds Australia (NSW) received $13 333 of funding through the Threatened Species Network Community Grants in 2004–05, part of which was for the restoration of woodland habitat in the Cowra region for the Superb Parrot.

The NSW Wildlife Information and Rescue Service received $6000 of funding through the Threatened Species Network Community Grants in 2000–01, part of which was for the protection and enhancement of Superb Parrot habitat by modifying management of stock routes.

The Gundaroo Common Trust (NSW) received $900 of funding through the Threatened Species Network Community Grants in 2000–01, part of which was for educating the local community about the threatened Superb Parrot through the erection of signs, management of sites through grass slashing, and annual on-site stakeholder liaison.

A number of mitigation measures have been developed for the conservation of the Superb Parrot (ACT Government 1999c; Christie 2004; Davey & Purchase 2004; Webster & Ahern 1992). Recommended strategies to combat threats to the species include:

  • Prevent further clearance or inappropriate alteration of box woodlands within the breeding range of the Superb Parrot, especially within 10 kilometres of known breeding colonies
  • Remove stock grazing from box woodland within 10 kilometres of known breeding colonies
  • Exclude logging, firewood harvesting and silvicultural treatments of box or riverine forests which contain Superb Parrot nesting trees
  • Retain dead standing trees, including single trees in paddocks, as breeding habitat
  • Retain trees in wooded corridors along roadsides, lanes and fencelines beside cereal crops or areas of native grasses
  • Protect Superb Parrot nest sites form levels of human recreational activities which may disrupt normal breeding behaviour
  • Protect nesting sites from unplanned fires; ensure that planned burning does not occur within 100 metres of known Superb Parrot nest trees; and ensure that fuel reduction near nest trees be conducted by slashing rather than by burning
  • Prohibit planned burning in major foraging areas, especially within 10 kilometres of nest sites
  • Prohibit planned burning within the species' breeding range during the breeding season
  • Prevent illegal trapping and the illegal collection of eggs and young Superb Parrots
  • Minimise the spillage of grain during road-based transport to minimize the chances of traffic-based fatalities
  • Protect nest sites from use by introduced fauna by target-specific methods of removal or eradication
  • Regularly inspect nest sites.

There have been a number of studies conducted on the Superb Parrot. Historically, summaries or reviews of the species or summaries of their ecology and occurrence in certain areas throughout the species' range have been published. Such studies include Keartland (1903), Frith & Calaby (1953), Kaveney (1979) and Schrader (1980). Recent studies (including results of surveys of the species conducted during the breeding season) include Webster (1988, 1991, 1991b, 1993a, 1999a, 2001b, 2003c), Bye (1990), Webster & Ahern (1992), Davidson & Chambers (1991), Christie (2004), Davey (1997), Davey & Purchase (2004) and Leslie (2005). Studies of the species' landscape and habitat requirements, including bioclimatic analysis for the species, have also been published (Manning et al. 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007).

The Action Plan for Australian Birds (Garnett & Crowley 2000) and the New South Wales Superb Parrot Polytelis swainsonii Draft Recovery Plan Background Document (Webster 1998) provide guides to threat abatement and management strategies for the Superb Parrot. Other documents, which provide details of the ecology of the species, the results of surveys or recommendations for management of the species include ACT Government (1999c), Christie (2004), Davey & Purchase (2004), Leslie (2005), Webster (1988), and Webster & Ahern (1992).

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 National Recovery Plan for the Superb Parrot Polytelis swainsonii (Baker-Gabb, D., 2011) [Recovery Plan].
Polytelis swainsonii in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006ru) [Internet].
The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2000 (Garnett, S.T. & G.M. Crowley, 2000) [Cwlth Action Plan].
Commonwealth Listing Advice on Land clearance (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2001w) [Listing Advice].
Agriculture and Aquaculture:Livestock Farming and Grazing:Grazing natural vegetation and associated habitat changes Polytelis swainsonii in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006ru) [Internet].
Agriculture and Aquaculture:Livestock Farming and Grazing:Grazing pressures and associated habitat changes National Recovery Plan for the Superb Parrot Polytelis swainsonii (Baker-Gabb, D., 2011) [Recovery Plan].
Biological Resource Use:Hunting and Collecting Terrestrial Animals:Harvesting for commercial purposes National Recovery Plan for the Superb Parrot Polytelis swainsonii (Baker-Gabb, D., 2011) [Recovery Plan].
Biological Resource Use:Hunting and Collecting Terrestrial Animals:Harvesting for recreational purposes National Recovery Plan for the Superb Parrot Polytelis swainsonii (Baker-Gabb, D., 2011) [Recovery Plan].
Biological Resource Use:Hunting and Collecting Terrestrial Animals:Illegal hunting/harvesting and collection National Recovery Plan for the Superb Parrot Polytelis swainsonii (Baker-Gabb, D., 2011) [Recovery Plan].
Polytelis swainsonii in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006ru) [Internet].
Biological Resource Use:Hunting and Collecting Terrestrial Animals:illegal control National Recovery Plan for the Superb Parrot Polytelis swainsonii (Baker-Gabb, D., 2011) [Recovery Plan].
Biological Resource Use:Logging and Wood Harvesting:Habitat disturbance due to foresty activities Polytelis swainsonii in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006ru) [Internet].
Biological Resource Use:Logging and Wood Harvesting:Habitat loss, modification and degradation due to firewood collection National Recovery Plan for the Superb Parrot Polytelis swainsonii (Baker-Gabb, D., 2011) [Recovery Plan].
Biological Resource Use:Logging and Wood Harvesting:Habitat loss, modification and degradation due to timber harvesting National Recovery Plan for the Superb Parrot Polytelis swainsonii (Baker-Gabb, D., 2011) [Recovery Plan].
Polytelis swainsonii in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006ru) [Internet].
Climate Change and Severe Weather:Habitat Shifting and Alteration:Habitat loss, modification and/or degradation National Recovery Plan for the Superb Parrot Polytelis swainsonii (Baker-Gabb, D., 2011) [Recovery Plan].
Climate Change and Severe Weather:Habitat Shifting and Alteration:Habitat modification, destruction and alteration due to changes in land use patterns National Recovery Plan for the Superb Parrot Polytelis swainsonii (Baker-Gabb, D., 2011) [Recovery Plan].
Ecosystem/Community Stresses:Indirect Ecosystem Effects:Loss and/or fragmentation of habitat and/or subpopulations National Recovery Plan for the Superb Parrot Polytelis swainsonii (Baker-Gabb, D., 2011) [Recovery Plan].
Polytelis swainsonii in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006ru) [Internet].
Ecosystem/Community Stresses:Indirect Ecosystem Effects:Restricted geographical distribution (area of occupancy and extent of occurrence) National Recovery Plan for the Superb Parrot Polytelis swainsonii (Baker-Gabb, D., 2011) [Recovery Plan].
Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Human induced disturbance due to unspecified activities Northern Rivers Regional Biodiversity Management Plan (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2010p) [State Recovery Plan].
Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Human Intrusions and Disturbance:inappropriate conservation measures National Recovery Plan for the Superb Parrot Polytelis swainsonii (Baker-Gabb, D., 2011) [Recovery Plan].
Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Recreational Activities:Soil disturbance and/or trampling due to bushwalking National Recovery Plan for the Superb Parrot Polytelis swainsonii (Baker-Gabb, D., 2011) [Recovery Plan].
Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Recreational Activities:camping National Recovery Plan for the Superb Parrot Polytelis swainsonii (Baker-Gabb, D., 2011) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation Apis mellifera (Honey Bee, Apiary Bee) National Recovery Plan for the Superb Parrot Polytelis swainsonii (Baker-Gabb, D., 2011) [Recovery Plan].
The threat posed by pest animals to biodiversity in New South Wales (Coutts-Smith, A.J., P.S. Mahon, M. Letnic & P.O. Downey, 2007) [Management Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Predation, competition, habitat degradation and/or spread of pathogens by introduced species Northern Rivers Regional Biodiversity Management Plan (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2010p) [State Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Presence of pathogens and resulting disease Northern Rivers Regional Biodiversity Management Plan (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2010p) [State Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:pest animal control Polytelis swainsonii in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006ru) [Internet].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Problematic Native Species:Competition and/or predation by birds National Recovery Plan for the Superb Parrot Polytelis swainsonii (Baker-Gabb, D., 2011) [Recovery Plan].
Polytelis swainsonii in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006ru) [Internet].
Natural System Modifications:Dams and Water Management/Use:Alteration of hydrological regimes and water quality Polytelis swainsonii in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006ru) [Internet].
Natural System Modifications:Dams and Water Management/Use:Changes to habitat hydrology National Recovery Plan for the Superb Parrot Polytelis swainsonii (Baker-Gabb, D., 2011) [Recovery Plan].
Natural System Modifications:Dams and Water Management/Use:Land practices leading to an increase in soil salinity Polytelis swainsonii in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006ru) [Internet].
Transportation and Service Corridors:Roads and Railroads:Vehicle related mortality National Recovery Plan for the Superb Parrot Polytelis swainsonii (Baker-Gabb, D., 2011) [Recovery Plan].
Polytelis swainsonii in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006ru) [Internet].

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Citation: Department of the Environment (2014). Polytelis swainsonii in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Wed, 20 Aug 2014 15:40:31 +1000.