The golden-shouldered parrot nests in conical termite mounds. Dubbed the ‘antbed parrot’, it excavates its nest during the wet season when the mound is rain softened.
The mound naturally regulates the temperature of the nest chamber at 13-35 °C. Antbed parrot moths seek out these nests to deposit their eggs. Hungry moth larvae perform housekeeping by feeding on the faeces of the parrot nestlings!
There are only 700 to 1,100 golden-shouldered parrots left in the wild. Due to cattle grazing and harmful fires, the parrots’ original savannah habitat has become choked with shrubs, serving as cover for predators like butcherbirds to ambush them easily.
The change in habitat also drove away woodswallows, which used to warn the parrots of predators. Vegetation decluttering is underway to save this species.
The golden-shouldered parrot is a totem for the Olkola people of central Cape York Peninsula in Australia. Known as the `Alwal’ in the Olkola language, the parrot is regarded with spiritual significance by the indigenous people.
Conservationists are exploring ways to work with the indigenous community to restore the parrot’s habitat through controlled burning and rotational grazing.