With iconic species like the green parrot and morepork owl, Norfolk Island is home to a fascinating array of birds.
The island’s isolation means that many of these birds aren’t found anywhere else in the world.
The Society ran a bird survey across the island group in 2005, the first time since 1978 that the birds have been monitored methodically for their presence and distribution. Visiting volunteer bird watchers and professionals came to the Island from Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United Kingdom to assist.
A provisional Bird List indicating extinct, endemic and native species has been compiled and is available free of charge.
Red-fronted Parakeet (“Green Parrot”) Cyanoramphus cookii ENDEMIC
In 1789 Philip Gidley King R.N. referred to the ‘destructive plagues’ of ‘parroquets’ which ruined the early settlers’ crops.
From this early record of abundance, the population declined to a low of fewer than 15 breeding pairs in the early 1980s. The Black Rat or Ship rat, Rattus rattus, believed to have been introduced during WWII, is a prime suspect. They were by then almost entirely restricted to the National Park, with only seasonal sorties outside the Park to raid their favourite of all the fruits, peaches.
At that time the (then) Australian National Parks & Wildlife Service launched a captive breeding program, and a parallel program of protecting the birds and their nest sites in the wild; the nest protection program proved to be the more successful strategy. Green Parrot numbers climbed to a possible 250 birds in the early 2000s, largely due to regular programs of cat control and rat baiting throughout the National Park, enhancing their chances of survival.
The importance of these activities was proven when, after the predator control measures eased (and for periods ceased) in the early 2010s, the Green Parrot numbers plummeted again to fewer than 20 breeding pairs. An urgent, concerted intervention by Parks Australia supported by local, Australian and international NGOs has produced excellent results, with over 400 birds now estimated, with pairs, individuals and groups being seen in all parts of the island.
Adult birds are a rich forest green, lighter green below, with a red crown, a red dot behind the eye, and a rich blue leading edge to the wing. The beak is light blue, gradually darkening towards the tip which is black. The eye is orange/red. Juveniles are similar to adults but their beak is pinkish and their eyes are brown. Sexes are alike, but the male is larger. Length 30cm.