Swift parrot given a fighting chance of survival

Conservation biologist Dr Dejan Stojanovic spends every spring and summer looking for the critically endangered Swift parrot in Tasmanian forests, as KATE PRESTT reports.

It’s no ordinary day job if you hike into a forest carrying ropes, motion-activated cameras, as well as a slingshot and harness.

“I use these tools to climb to Swift parrot nests so I can monitor their survival,” Stojanovic says.

“Sitting at the top of enormous forest trees, soaking up views of the Southern Ocean, forests and snow-capped mountains is pretty special – I’d never take an office job.”

He is part of a dedicated team of ANU researchers led by Professor Rob Heinsohn who are working to save the iconic hollow nesting bird which is at risk of extinction from deforestation and predation.

In 2015, groundbreaking research by the team found these tiny green birds could be extinct in as little as 16 years due to the threat of sugar gliders, introduced into Tasmania in the 1800s and now the main predator of Swift parrots.   

"Our research predicted the swift parrot population would halve every four years with a possible decline of 94.7 per cent over 16 years,” Stojanovic says.