National recovery plan for the Golden-shouldered Parrot (Psephotus chrysopterygius) 2003-2007

Recovery Plan
Dr Stephen Garnett and Dr Gabriel Crowley
Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, Brisbane

Summary

Species

The golden-shouldered parrot Psephotus chrysopterygius Gould 1858 is a small granivore closely related to the extinct paradise parrot P. pulcherrimus (Gould, 1845), and more-distantly-related to the secure hooded parrot P. dissimilis Collett, 1898 (Christidis and Norman 1996).

Species status

Listed as endangered under Schedule 2 of the Nature Conservation (Wildlife) Regulation 1994, and the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). Fits the criteria of endangered under IUCN Red List categories (IUCN SSC 2001) Category B1a,b(i)(ii)(iii)(iv) (extent of occurrence Garnett and Crowley, 2000). Listed under Appendix I of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

The species is restricted to far north Queensland. The population is fewer than 2000 individuals and, though it declined in parts of its range between 1992 and 1998, this contraction may now have stabilised.

Distribution summary

The golden-shouldered parrot is restricted to two populations in central Cape York Peninsula. The range of the Morehead population, in the headwaters of the Morehead River catchment, is currently about 1380 km2, but is still contracting, at least along its eastern boundary for which detailed distributional data is available. The Staaten population, primarily on Staaten River National Park, is contained in an area of about 300 km2. The historical distribution was more extensive, covering most of Cape York Peninsula (McLennan 1923; Thomson 1935; Weaver 1982; Garnett and Crowley 1997, 1999).

Threat summary

The golden-shouldered parrot occurs in tropical savanna woodland, nests in termite mounds and feeds on a range of annual and perennial grasses. A shortage of food occurs annually in the early wet season and this can be made worse by a lack of burning and intense cattle and pig grazing. Altered fire patterns and grazing have also resulted in an increase in the density of woody shrubs which, it is thought, increases the vulnerability of the parrots to predators.

Objectives

Overall objectives

  1. Improve the conservation status of the golden-shouldered parrot from endangered to vulnerable.
  2. Develop and implement land management strategies that restore grassland and grassy woodlands to the benefit of dependent fauna and in sympathy with co-existing land values.
  3. Assist recolonization of known former golden-shouldered parrot habitat.
  4. Operate the recovery program efficiently, cost-effectively, and with high levels of community participation.

Specific objectives during the life of the current recovery plan

  1. Manage habitat for golden-shouldered parrots at a landscape scale.
  2. Maintain parrot population at receding edge of distribution.
  3. Determine population trends.
  4. Determine and manage impacts of pied butcherbirds on nest success
  5. Determine and manage impacts of change in vegetation structure on black-faced woodswallows.
  6. Assess and minimize adverse impacts of cattle and pigs on food plants and termite mounds.
  7. Increase the number of wild populations of golden-shouldered parrots.
  8. Downlist species from endangered to vulnerable.
  9. Support recovery process.

Performance criteria

C.1.1: Management plans on relevant National Parks on Cape York Peninsula include specific actions for maintaining structure of grasslands and grassy woodlands.
C.1.2: Management of grasslands and grassy woodlands on designated National Parks is consistent with guidelines.
C.1.3: Property plans on at least two pastoral properties include specific actions for conservation of golden-shouldered parrots.
C.1.4: Management on designated pastoral properties for golden-shouldered parrots compliant with property plans.
C.2.1: Parrots attending at least one wet season feeding station on eastern edge of distribution.
C.3.1: Population trends are quantified.
C.4.1: Pied butcherbird project plan approved.
C.4.2: Influence of pied butcherbird predation on nest productivity quantified and recommendations incorporated into parrot management.
C.5.1: Relationship between nesting success of black-faced woodswallows and vegetation structure quantified, management implications determined and recommendations incorporated into parrot management.
C.6.1: Levels of cattle and pig damage on cockatoo grass and termite mounds are quantified.
C.6.2: Interim guidelines for cattle stocking rates and pig control measures are provided.
C.6.3: Recommended guidelines for cattle stocking rates and pig control measures are incorporated into management plans.
C.7.1: Management of reintroduction trial area complies with strategy for management of golden-shouldered parrot habitat on National Parks.
C.7.2: Nursery stocks of cockatoo grass are adequate to supply re-vegetation requirements.
C.7.3: Reintroduction trial area contains healthy population of seeding cockatoo grass.
C.7.4: A captive breeding program to provide golden-shouldered parrots for reintroduction is operating within IUCN guidelines.
C.8.1: Submission made to Threatened Species Scientific Committee to reclassify golden-shouldered parrot as vulnerable Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cwlth).
C.8.2: Submission made to reclassify golden-shouldered parrot as vulnerable under Schedule 3 of the Nature Conservation (Wildlife) Regulation 1994.
C.9.1: Continued functioning of a recovery team to direct the recovery process, a major review and a new recovery plan.

Summary of Actions

A.1.1.1: Advise National Park management regarding fire management of grasslands and grassy woodlands.
A.1.2.1: Implement and assess adherence to grassland and grassy woodland management guidelines on designated National Parks.
A.1.3.1: Participate in property planning on Cape York Peninsula.
A.1.4.1: Implement and assess adherence to golden-shouldered parrot habitat management guidelines on designated pastoral properties.

A.2.1.1: Provide seed for parrots during wet season at one or more feeding stations on north-eastern edge of distribution.

A.3.1.1: Sequentially monitor populations at selected sites once every five years.

A.4.1.1: Develop research plan to determine effects of pied butcherbird predation.
A.4.1.2: Obtain ethics approval for pied butcherbird research plan.
A.4.2.1: Undertake quantitative study of pied butcherbird predation on golden-shouldered parrot nests.
A.4.2.2: Determine management implications of pied butcherbird research for golden-shouldered parrots.
A.4.2.3: Incorporate pied butcherbird recommendations into parrot management guidelines.

A.5.1.1: Complete research into the relationship between vegetation structure and fecundity of black-faced woodswallows.
A.5.1.2: Determine management implications of black-faced woodswallow research for golden-shouldered parrots.
A.5.1.3: Incorporate black-faced woodswallow recommendations into parrot management guidelines.

A.6.1.1: Monitor and assess cattle and pig impacts on cockatoo grass and termite mounds.
A.6.2.1: Develop and implement management strategies to minimize cattle impacts on cockatoo grass and termite mounds in golden-shouldered parrot habitat if this is determined to be necessary in A.6.1.1.
A.6.2.2: Develop and implement management strategies for the control of pigs in golden-shouldered parrot habitat if this is determined to be necessary in A.6.1.1.
A.6.3.1: Advise National Park managers regarding appropriate levels of pig control.

A.7.1.1: Restore and maintain grassland structure of reintroduction trial area using appropriate fire regime, in co-operation with leaseholders and traditional owners.
A.7.2.1: Establish and maintain nursery stocks of cockatoo grass for re-establishing in reintroduction trial area.
A.7.3.1: Establish and maintain cockatoo grass in reintroduction trial area.
A.7.4.1 Prepare a full justification for reintroduction against appropriate IUCN guidelines.
A.7.4.2 Consult with aviculturists about aviary design and the best means of building up stock for release.
A.7.4.3 Negotiate with potential donors to construct aviaries, and construct aviaries at appropriate sites.
A.7.4.4 Capture an appropriate number of wild parrots of an appropriate age class for captive breeding.
A.7.4.5 Initiate captive breeding program.

A.8.1.1: If appropriate on basis of A.3.1.1 write submission to Threatened Species Scientific Committee to reclassify golden-shouldered parrot as vulnerable under Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cwlth).
A.8.2.1: If appropriate on basis of A.3.1.1 write submission to reclassify golden-shouldered parrot as vulnerable under Schedule 3 of the Nature Conservation (Wildlife) Regulation 1994.

A.9.1.1: Manage the recovery process through a recovery team.
A.9.1.2: Consult with interested parties and keep them informed of progress.
A.9.1.3: Support non-government stakeholder attendance at meetings.
A.9.1.4: Conduct a major review of the recovery process.
A.9.1.5: Rewrite the recovery plan at the end of five years.