After the bushfires

Everybody is, of course, devastated by the terrible loss and suffering of our wildlife in the current horrendous bushfires. Looking forward, however, we need to plan for the recovery of wild animal populations and the restoration of their habitats.

One of the major threats to successful recovery will be the invasion of feral species. Cats and foxes, for instance, are rarely found within intact native forests. Rather they inhabit the borders and disturbed ground. The current bushfires effectively open up vast areas for their invasion.

More information can be found in this media release from the Invasive Species Council:


Regent honeyeater at Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Park

Help Stop Bird Numbers Decline

Recently the media reported research from the United States that says that 1 in 4 birds have disappeared from the American sky since 1970. Here in Australia we are not exempt, with many species in decline and the number of birds in the environment also reduced. Birds like the regent honeyeater have declined from flocks of thousands last century to only a few hundred in the wild today.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has identified 7 things that can easily be done by all of us to help save our birds.

They highlighted three of these actions, and they are all very familiar to Australians:

  • Watch birds and share what you see. Take part in citizen-science projects like eBird to show us where birds are thriving—and where they need our help.
  • Reduce lawn, plant natives. Convert your lawn or balcony into a native habitat with local plants to feed and shelter birds. Get gardening!
  • Keep cats indoors. Do your local birds a favour by keeping all cats inside—it will help your cat live a longer, healthier life too.

You can view the full list from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology here

Please do what you can for our birds!

Baby boom at Moonlit Sanctuary!

Baby boom for endangered parrots at Moonlit Sanctuary!

A record-breaking 60 young birds left the nest this year

Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park has had a bumper season for breeding the critically endangered orange-bellied parrot. Over 60 young birds left the nest this year which is a record for Moonlit Sanctuary.

Especially satisfying were the first clutch results, which saw an 82% egg fertility rate and an average of 3.2 young birds produced from each nest. This is one of the highest rates yet achieved from captive birds.  Mark Holdsworth, an orange-bellied parrot expert, said that this is equivalent to the previous long-term average for wild birds.

Moonlit Sanctuary Director, Michael Johnson said, “These results were achieved because of the outstanding care given by our dedicated staff, and are proof of the methods and facilities we have put in place to help save these parrots.”

Orange-bellied parrots are among the most endangered birds on the planet, with fewer than 25 birds in the wild last September. They are one of three species of migrating parrots, and migrate every year between their summer breeding grounds in south-west Tasmania and the Victorian coast.

Moonlit Sanctuary first became involved with orange-bellied parrots in 2012, and started to make a serious contribution to their recovery with the opening of a modern breeding complex in 2016. Moonlit Sanctuary breeds birds and supports three release programs:

  • Spring release: Release of birds at the last known breeding location at Melaleuca, Tasmania to boost numbers for each upcoming summer breeding season.
  • Late summer juvenile release: Release of birds as young as 8 weeks old into the flock in Melaleuca prior to the autumn migration. This is done on the presumption that young birds will adapt quickly to the wild, and would be more likely to survive than older birds. The first trial last year was a success with 4 birds completing the migration, including 2 birds bred at Moonlit Sanctuary.
  • Autumn mainland release: Birds are released at points on the Victorian coast, where there is a good quality of habitat. This is done to encourage migrating birds to settle there, and to build up flock size which helps increase the number of birds that survive winter.

Moonlit Sanctuary also hosts one of two ranching aviaries for the recovery program. Ranching involves removing some of each wild-hatched clutch from the wild at the end of the breeding season and flying them to the mainland to be housed in our aviary. They are then returned to Tasmania prior to the breeding season. Again, the first trial of this experimental program was last year and 100% of birds kept at Moonlit Sanctuary were returned to Tasmania. This meant that 14 birds that were very likely to have perished over the winter survived to contribute to the wild breeding population again.

Moonlit Sanctuary won the Victorian Premiers Sustainability Award for Environmental Protection for our work with orange-bellied parrots in 2017 and has just won Silver for Ecotourism at the Australian Tourism Awards.