Coxen's Fig Parrot

On The Brink - © Currumbin Sanctuary

The recovery program of Australia's most endangered rain forest parrot - the Coxen's Fig Parrot - was presented by Currumbin Sanctuary at a recent national zoos, wildlife and marine parks conference in Darwin.

Organised by the Australasian Regional Association of Zoological Parks and Aquaria and the Australasian Society of Zookeeping, the conference attracted 200 Zookeepers, Curators, Education officers and Directors from Australia, New Zealand, United States of America and Asia.

Currumbin Sanctuary Curator of Animal Collections, Liz Romer, presented a paper on the endangered Coxen's Fig Parrot recovery program - a species on the brink of extinction.

Over the past seven years the Sanctuary has been developing techniques of captive breeding with the closely related Red-browed Fig Parrot, an analogue species.

"We did a world-wide survey a few years ago to find out more information on Fig parrots, but were unable to get much because of the difficulty of breeding them. Hence, there are very few institutions breeding fig parrots in captivity", said Liz.

"The majority of people breeding Fig parrots had most success by hand-raising. However, with a possible release program you need parent raised birds for release back into the wild to be most successful".

Red-browed Fig Parrots - Cyclopsitta diophthalma macleayana. Photograph courtesy of Geoff Girvan, Elanora, Qld"At the Sanctuary we concentrate on techniques for parent raising the Red-browed Fig Parrot. This is to try to obtain the highest success for the future possibility of needing the captive breeding and release program for the Coxen's Fig Parrot".

She said the breeding program had produced good techniques for breeding the analogue species - including diet, nest boxes and housing.

"We're providing back-up research to the field work that is being done by a national recovery team formed in Brisbane in June 1993 and coordinated by the Department of Environment and Heritage."

Early reports suggested the Coxen's Fig Parrot was common in the rain forests between the Mary River Bundaberg and Port Macquarie prior to the 1920s when their habitat was virtually wiped out through logging and agriculture.

According to reports in 1924 the Coxen's Fig Parrots were thought to be in imminent danger of extinction because of the rate their habitat was disappearing. ²


A national recovery team was formed in Brisbane in June 1993 to investigate actions to save Coxen's Fig Parrot.

A search conducted by the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage began in August 1993. The study area is mainly in the region bordered by Beaudesert, Warwick, Casino and Murwillumbah.

Results of the study will be incorporated in a recovery plan which may recommend such procedures as the rehabilitation of habitat and/or a breeding program for captive birds.

Coxen's Fig Parrot resembles three species of Lorikeets. All four parrots are generally green, small and fast flying.

Lorikeets often form large noisy flocks and feed on flowers of various plants including eucalypts, banksias and grevilleas. While Coxen's Fig Parrots are more solitary, form small flocks in autumn and winter and feed mainly on seeds or figs.

Coxen's Fig Parrot is best detected by its soft 'tsst tsst' call or by the noise of falling particles of discarded fruit. It is most active near dawn or dusk and rarely flies higher than treetop level . 


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