Swift parrot saved: critically endangered bird blown off course recovers

A swift parrot blown way off course has been rescued and released. Swift parrots are migratory birds who…

A swift parrot blown way off course has been rescued and released.

Swift parrots are migratory birds who breed solely in Tasmania. They then travel to Australia for the fall and winter. The species has been designated as critically endangered: there are only a meager 2000 wild birds remaining.

They also happen to be very small, so a big wind blowing them off course could mean big trouble for the tiny birds.

One of these little birds had his trip to Australia interrupted by a strong wind. Luckily, he completed his askew journey and was spotted by a local far from his target destination—on the tiny Lord Howe Island.

Jack Shick

Where did the local find the little fellow? In a chicken coop, skinny and exhausted. The parrot had travelled almost 600km in the wrong direction. This is a huge for such a distance small bird:

It’s only the second sighting of a swift parrot on Lord Howe Island ever… to fly so far for such a tiny bird is an amazing achievement.

Michael Shiels, the bird supervisor at the Taronga Zoo

The bird’s ordeal with the chicken coop led to his new name: Houdini. Once he was spotted in the coop and islanders tried to capture him so they could help him, the little bird escaped. Twice.

Eventually, they managed to get Houdini on a plane heading to Australia’s mainland so he could be looked after at Sydney’s Taronga Wildlife Hospital. He needed more than a month after his tribulation to recover his strength.

All that was left to do was find a flock of wild swift parrots to release Houdini to. This search was especially important because Houdini is a member of such an endangered species:

With such a small population left in the wild, finding an appropriate location to release this precious bird was paramount… In a critically endangered population every individual animal is extremely important.

Mick Roderick, the manager of the woodland bird program at Birdlife Australia

Fortunately, the Werakata State Conservation Area was home to a suitable flock. They released Houdini right where the other parrots were waiting to welcome him. It didn’t take him long to join them:

He started calling and flew off to where the other birds in the flock were.

Mick Roderick

It was quite the journey—and quite the happy ending—for the little bird.

Screen capture from video (ABC Mid North Coast, Emma Siossian)

Article source: ABC Mid North Coast

Featured image source: Jack Shick

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