K’gari ground parrot program has ears on the ground

Issued: 6 Jul 2021

The Department of Environment and Science has set seven acoustic recorders in fire affected areas on K’gari (Fraser Island) to monitor populations of the threatened ground parrot.

Ranger in Charge Linda Behrendorff said the acoustic recorders have been deployed for the ground parrot’s breeding season, and to monitor the recovery of other species in fire affected areas.

“K’gari is home to more than 350 bird species, with many of them migratory. The ground parrot is one of the least sighted birds on the island,” Ms Behrendorff said.

“As its name suggests, it is a ground-dwelling bird that lives among coastal sedges, constructing nests at ground level and laying three to four eggs during breeding season.

“This project has been conducted throughout the Great Sandy National Park since 2017 and aims to assess the ground parrot presence in fen and heath areas, especially after fire events.

“So far on K’gari, the recorders have successfully captured the presence of ground parrots in the northern fire affected areas including Wathumba and Moon Point swamp areas.

“This is a great outcome for the species, and shows just how well the island’s wildlife, along with the flora, is adapted to fire.

“Rangers will be moving the acoustic recorders after August to new locations to hopefully identify the range of the ground parrots.

“Ground parrots are renowned for vocalising in the period just after dusk and just prior to dawn, so the acoustic recorders are programmed to record for one hour just prior sunset and sunrise.

“The ground parrots have a range of calls that vary significantly in the number of notes, total duration and frequency, and regional variation is well documented.

“Our experts will listen to the recordings and estimate the population size and their range across the island.”

Ms Behrendorff said under previous monitoring projects, acoustic recorders were deployed at five sites in heath and sedgelands on K'gari, Great Sandy National Park and areas known to support ground parrot populations.

“Deployments ranged from 61-73 days, encompassed a range of climatic conditions and generated 349 sunset and 345 sunrise recordings,” she said.

“Not only did the acoustic recorders capture the ground parrot calls, various recordings of other vulnerable or near threatened species were also collected including those of the glossy black-cockatoo, the wallum froglet, Cooloola sedgefrog, the wallum rocketfrog and the wallum sedgefrog.

“We’re expecting the acoustic recorders to capture the sounds of other birds and frogs during this deployment, and we can compare the results of this project with the outcomes of the 2017 project.

“This project is a part of the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service ongoing study of fire-impacted areas on the island.”

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Find more information about birds on K’gari (PDF, 151.2KB) .