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Palms host pesky parrots

STAFF REPORTER

Perth people with palm trees on their properties are being urged to look out for nesting rainbow lorikeets, one of southwest Australia’s most destructive pest bird species.

Department of Environment and Conservation spokesman Mark Blythman said multiple pairs of rainbow lorikeets were known to nest behind old leaf bases of palm trees during the breeding season.

A maintained palm.

“By simply cutting away any old leaf bases, leaving just the trunk to the crown, breeding habitat can be removed,” Mr Blythman said.

“This is an effective, non-lethal action that people can take to help limit the impact that rainbow lorikeets are having on our native wildlife and to fruit growers.”

Rainbow lorikeets occur naturally along the east coast of Australia, and there is also a distinct red-collared form that is native to the Kimberley region of Western Australia.

A population of rainbow lorikeets derived from aviary escapees was first recorded in central Perth and the western suburbs in the 1960s.

The lorikeets have continued to breed, escape and be released from aviaries.

An unmaintained palm.

Since their establishment around Perth, the colourful but pesky species has increased in number and continues to spread, covering an estimated 175sqkm in 2006.

“Rainbow lorikeets are listed as a declared pest in southern parts of the state due to the extreme threat they pose to the environment, as they compete with wildlife for habitat and food, damage vegetation and pose a disease risk,” Mr Blythman said.

“They also damage stone fruit and grape crops and pose a bird strike risk to aeroplanes as there is a significant rainbow lorikeet roost site at Perth Airport.

Mr Blythman said that the government and private landholders had dramatically reduced the population of rainbow lorikeets in the Swan Valley and the Perth Hills where they impaired fruit production.

Since 2006, more than 34,000 lorikeets have been culled in the Perth metropolitan area, including close to 17,000 birds in the Swan Valley alone.

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