Watching the inspiring documentary Remote and Rugged will give viewers the opportunity to see it on film for the first time. For those of you curious to find out more about Western Australia’s rarest bird, we have been asked to provide some additional information.
Known to Noongar people as Kyloring, this secretive bird lives in heathland and forages amongst dense vegetation taking to flight only when flushed or flying between roosts and feeding areas.
The only time the bird announces its presence is during a brief period before sunrise and after sunset. Its call, which has been likened to the whistle of a boiling kettle, is generally not heard during the day, making the birds extremely difficult to locate.
With an estimated 110 individuals surviving in the wild, this ground-dwelling parrot is only a heartbeat away from extinction. There are only two known populations left, one in Fitzgerald River National Park, the other in Cape Arid National Park.
A third population, which as recently as a decade ago was found in Waychinicup National Park east of Albany, is presumed to have become extinct. Intensive seaches carried out in the area during recent years have failed to locate the parrots.
Approximately 90 per cent of all western ground parrots are now found in Cape Arid National Park, a highly fire-prone part of our region. It is scary to think that a single, out-of-control wildfire has the potential to wipe out the bulk of this population pushing the species ever closer towards extinction.
To protect those remaining populations, Department of Parks and Wildlife staff’s efforts are being directed at keeping their habitat secure from wildfires, a huge task given the size and remoteness of the national parks. Whilst fox-baiting has been successful, baiting for feral cats is still experimental, but recent results look promising.
In 2010 a small number of birds were captured from the wild to determine whether it was possible to maintain the species in a captive environment.
This project proved to be successful with one pair even attempting, albeit unsuccessfully, to breed. Presently, efforts are under way to set up a dedicated captive breeding project. However, funding is urgently needed to get this program off the ground.
– Anne Bondin, secretary, Friends of the Western Ground Parrot.