Alwal breeding

Published 11 May 2017 
by Terry Mahney  
about  Cape York Partnership  
Olkola Land Managers Francis Royee, Hamish Kulka and Karla Kulka set up a remote sensing camera at an Alwal nest to check on nesting success and predator activites.<br/> Olkola Land Managers Francis Royee, Hamish Kulka and Karla Kulka set up a remote sensing camera at an Alwal nest to check on nesting success and predator activites.
Brendan Ross and Francis Royee setting up camera for monitoring Alwal nest.<br/> Brendan Ross and Francis Royee setting up camera for monitoring Alwal nest.

The first surveys for Alwal (Golden-shouldered Parrots) have begun for 2017 and successfully recorded 12 nests.

A team of five Olkola land managers, two University of Queensland researchers and one Bush Heritage ecologist undertook a 10 day trip to Olkola Lands on Cape York at the start of breeding season to conduct nest surveys.

The nests were in various stages of advancement from nest tunnels still being dug into termite mounds to fully feathered young close to fledging.

At each nest site remote sensing cameras were put in place to monitor nesting success and capture incidents of predation.

The University researchers are working with Olkola and Bush Heritage to help better understand the impacts of predators, including feral cats, goannas and butcherbirds, on Alwal. They're also helping investigate strategies to help control the impact of predators.

At some of the nests we observed the sympatric grub, Trisyntopa scatophaga, which lives in Alwal nests and helps keep them clean by eating the faeces of the young Alwal. By keeping the nest clean these grubs enhance the likelihood of survival and successful fledging of the young birds.

At one of the nests, with freshly laid eggs, a pair of Trisyntopa scatopha moths were observed mating. These small moths are only known to occur with Alwal and, like their hosts, are considered a threatened species.

Brendan Ross and Francis Royee setting up camera for monitoring Alwal nest.<br/> Brendan Ross and Francis Royee setting up camera for monitoring Alwal nest.