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Hopes of saving orange-bellied parrot hang on foster baby
High above the windswept button-grass plans of Melaleuca in Tasmania's south-west, a fluffy chick is tucked away in a nesting box. But this is no ordinary chick.
The little bird is the first captive-bred orange-bellied parrot to have survived its first week in the nest of an adoptive mother in the wild.
It is the sole survivor of a clutch of five chicks flown across Tasmania in a helicopter and placed in the wild parrots' nesting boxes at two sites as part of a last ditch effort to save the endangered species (Neophema chrysogaster).
Dr Dejan Stojanovic of the Australian National University said transporting the tiny three-gram fluffy 'jelly bean'-sized babies, aged between one and five days old, was "terrifying" and "gut wrenching".
While cross-fostering techniques have worked in captive-bred orange-bellied parrots, this is the first time the technique has been trialled in the wild in this species.
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