Birds throughout the world are facing an extinction crisis. Of the 9,000 known species, as many as 1,000 are considered to be nearing extinction, largely because of habitat destruction and the impact of introduced predators has had a profound impact on both native animals and birds, some have gone forever and some are hanging on by the smallest of margins. Once a species disappears, it is gone forever
We have about one third of the parrot species of the world. Of the fifty five present at the start of European settlement, one, the Paradise parrot, has become extinct and the Night Parrot long believed to be, is probably hanging on in the central arid regions. Several expeditions have failed to find it in recent years, but 2 years ago the body of one was found beside a road in Western QLD, prompting a famous comment that the easiest way to locate them might be to look in the radiators of Mac trucks
Politicians and introduced livestock can threaten extinctions. The Orange Bellied Parrot migrates annually across Bass Strait from Tasmania to small areas in South Australia and Victoria and in 1989 was estimated to have a total population of only 180 birds. Following the fire at the Westernport chemical complex, attempts were made to move it to one of the main habitats of these birds. The then Premier of Victoria, Jeff Kennet, was reported to have been furious that the move was prevented on environmental grounds because of what he described as a "bunch of jumped up budgies"
Up on Cape Yorke cattle and changed burning practices have altered the habitat and threatened the Golden Shouldered Parrot which nests in termite mounds, by encouraging the growth of trees near the mounds. This enables Butcher Birds to take the parrot fledglings as they emerge from the nest. Several families of cattlemen are now cooperating with the CSIRO to reverse this trend, with promising results
Land clearing removes nest sites, food and cover and is still going on in a major and ecologically unjustifiable way. Large scale cropping and forestry, especially where there is heavy reliance on insecticides is devastating to birds. Having said this, some species have been favoured by cropping and livestock production as there are now more Galahs and Corellas in the wheat belt that ever and incidentally more kangaroos for the same reason
You can make a difference. Plant native plants to encourage birds. Support organizations that work to protect natural areas, birds and other wildlife species. Locally we have WIRES and Sydney Metropolitan Wildlife Service and others, on a larger scale I commend the World Parrot Trust