Nature conservation

Threatened species

Eastern Ground Parrot - profile

Indicative distribution


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Key:
known
predicted
The areas shown in pink and/purple are the sub-regions where the species or community is known or predicted to occur. They may not occur thoughout the sub-region but may be restricted to certain areas. ( click here to see geographic restrictions). The information presented in this map is only indicative and may contain errors and omissions.
Scientific name: Pezoporus wallicus wallicus
Conservation status in NSW: Vulnerable
Commonwealth status: Not listed
Profile last updated: 20 May 2014

Description

The Ground Parrot is a stunningly beautiful bird. It is a distinctive, bright grass-green, long-tailed, ground-dwelling parrot of the coastal and sub-coastal heaths, reaching 30 cm long. The green upperparts are heavily mottled with yellow and black, and the greenish-yellow underparts are barred brown. Sexes are alike. The forehead of individuals older than three or four months is orange-red. This species has a distinctive call, given at dawn and dusk, that consists of a series of piercing, resonating whistles, rising in steps, with each note flowing on almost unbroken, but abruptly higher than the preceding note. The species is rarely seen unless flushed, although birds can be seen fluttering low over heath at dusk.

Distribution

There are three recognised subspecies of the Ground Parrot in Australia, though the subspecies in Tasmania (leachii) is not always recognised. Recently, the possibility that the western subspecies (flaviventris) may be a separate species has been raised. The eastern subspecies (wallicus) inhabits south-eastern Australia from southern Queensland through NSW to western Victoria. It formerly occurred in South Australia, but was last recorded in 1945. In NSW populations have declined and contracted to islands of coastal or subcoastal heathland and sedgeland habitats. The species is found in small numbers on the north coast (Broadwater, Bundjalung, Yuraygir NPs) and Myall Lakes on the central coast. The largest populations occur on the NSW south coast, particularly Barren Grounds NR, Budderoo NP, the Jervis Bay area and Nadgee NR. Small numbers are recorded at Morton and Ben Boyd NP and other areas on the south coast. Estimated population size is about 2000 birds.

Habitat and ecology

  • The Ground Parrot occurs in high rainfall coastal and near coastal low heathlands and sedgelands, generally below one metre in height and very dense (up to 90% projected foliage cover). These habitats provide a high abundance and diversity of food, adequate cover and suitable roosting and nesting opportunities for the Ground Parrot, which spends most of its time on or near the ground. When flushed, birds fly strongly and rapidly for up to several hundred metres, at a metre or less above the ground.
  • The coastal and subcoastal heathland and sedgeland habitats of the Ground Parrot are particularly fire-prone. Ground Parrots can re-colonise burnt habitat after 1-2 years and reach maximum densities after 15-20 years without fire. Therefore, it is recommended that habitat be protected from extensive and intense fires.
  • Home ranges of adult birds is typically 10 ha and overlapping with other birds, while juveniles have a significantly larger home range. There is no evidence of regular long-distance dispersal or migration events.
  • Ground Parrots feed mostly on seeds from a large range of plant species, which varies seasonally. An individual bird may consume in the order of 8000 seeds per day from as many as 60 plant species. Other plant material and invertebrates may be ingested.
  • Ground Parrots breed from September to December. Breeding is thought to be triggered by increasing seed availability in spring. 2-7 eggs are laid in a shallow bowl of fine sticks and grass, well hidden under overhanging tall, coarse grass, sedge or low, heathy shrubs. The nest is usually screened from above and sides, often with a tunnel in the surrounding dense plants. The female incubates the eggs for 21-24 days and on average a pair successfully fledges 2 young per season.
  • Whilst the dense structure of Ground Parrot habitat makes it difficult for predators to hunt, birds are taken frequently in open habitats such as tracks, roads and fire breaks.

Regional distribution and habitat

Click on a region below to view detailed distribution, habitat and vegetation information.


Threats

Recovery strategies

Activities to assist this species

Information sources

CMA CMA sub-region Known or predicted Geographic restrictions region
Hawkesbury-NepeanSydney Cataract Predicted None
Northern RiversClarence Lowlands Known within 15 km of coast
Northern RiversMacleay Hastings Known
Northern RiversYuraygir Known None
Southern RiversBateman Known None
Southern RiversBungonia Known None
Southern RiversEast Gippsland Lowlands (Part A) Known None
Southern RiversEast Gippsland Lowlands (Part C) Known None
Southern RiversEttrema Known None
Southern RiversIllawarra Known None
Southern RiversJervis Known None
Southern RiversMoss Vale Known None
Southern RiversSouth East Coastal Plains Known None
Southern RiversSouth East Coastal Ranges (Part C) Known None
Sydney MetroPittwater (Part B) Known None
Sydney MetroSydney Cataract Known None