Australia Endangered superb parrots dying in 'catastrophic' strikes on NSW road

05:40  12 january  2018
05:40  12 january  2018 Source:   ABC News

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Superb parrot chicks are hatched inside gum tree hollows.© ABC News/Craig Allen Superb parrot chicks are hatched inside gum tree hollows. Environmentalists are concerned motorists are hitting and killing flocks of highly endangered parrots feeding around a New South Wales road.

Ecologist Saan Ecker estimated more than 100 superb parrots had been found dead on a road off Barton Highway, near the town of Murrumbateman, in recent days.

Yesterday she saw dozens of the dead birds surrounded by live ones, and said several motorists had alerted Wildcare of similar sightings in the area.

"It was quite a catastrophic sight," Dr Ecker said.

"For every dead body was one or two live birds sitting between each and [they] are getting hit [by cars] as well."

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"Obviously it is normal for birds to become roadkill but not to this huge scale."

Dr Ecker said superb parrots' tendency to mourn the death of their own by gathering around the bodies, combined with their camouflage and motorists' carelessness had proven a recipe for disaster.

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"They've been there consistently for three days or so," she said.

"I've never [previously] seen one before in the 12 or so years I've been here."

"These birds are so ignorant to traffic that you literally have to drive five or 10 kilometres per hour not to hit them, and they just look like leaves when you come across them."

She urged drivers to be cautious, remove any dead birds from the road and report injured ones to Wildcare on 02 6299 1966.

The parrots are being struck because they blend in with the roadside grass.© ABC News/Supplied: Saan Ecker The parrots are being struck because they blend in with the roadside grass. "I know that Wildcare have been getting calls and are receiving the injured ones to hopefully release them back into the flock," Dr Ecker said.

"As humans, in rushing to get to work, we forget we really need to take into consideration these other species, especially one that is heading to extinction."

"To see these birds is such a delight, and the fact it is being marred by our lack of attention is a message we all need to hear. We have a responsibility to help protect them."

Superb parrots seasonally migrate over inland eastern Australia before settling in southern areas, including the ACT, to breed and nest.

In recent months they have been flocking to the region in larger numbers, but ecologists believe this signals a larger movement than usual, rather than a recovery of the species.

The ACT Government is exploring ways to save and protect the parrots, which have been forced to compete with more aggressive birds for nesting hollows because 95 per cent of their woodland habitat has been cleared.

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