Over the next few months Canberra's skies will be inundated with superb parrots, after a successful hatching season, but by early next year they will have disappeared, only to return next October.
Where they go, and why, remains largely a mystery.
But this is where ANU PhD student McLean Cobden comes in. Mr Cobden is undertaking an innovative tracking study to finally discover where exactly the parrots go, how far they travel and what they might be searching for.
Tracking studies in parrots, particularly smaller varieties like the superb parrot, are uncommon as the birds tend to be intelligent and dexterous, which makes attaching a tracker a rather complicated endeavour.
But Mr Cobden, with the team at the ANU's difficult bird research group, has developed a sort of GPS backpack which can be attached to the parrots.
The specially designed trackers have a weak point built in, meaning they will eventually fall off the birds and will also immediately come undone if the bird happened to get caught on something.
Weighing in at less than 5 per cent of a superb parrot's weight, the trackers allow for the bird to behave normally without interference.
Mr Cobden has spent the last couple of months travelling around the ACT and also out to the Riverina and Central West, other superb parrot breeding grounds, climbing up and down countless trees, attaching the trackers.
He hopes this will uncover where the parrots travel over the winter for the first time.
"Movement remains one of the big questions with superb parrots," Mr Cobden said.
"So finally having an understanding of how they use the landscape across their life cycle is really important to inform how we can better maintain the landscape for their benefit."
Superb parrots are a vulnerable species and face significant threats, primarily habitat destruction.
A recent study completed by the ANU highlighted that in some ways the parrots are their own worst enemy by being extremely picky when it comes to where they choose to breed.
One of the study's lead researchers, Dejan Stojanovic, said superb parrots prefer to breed in hollows of large trees, which have deep chambers and wide entrances.
"This particular combination of traits is especially rare, and only 0.5 per cent of tree hollows in a woodland actually fit these criteria," Dr Stojanovic said.
Mr Cobden said this highlighted the problems facing the parrots as with so few suitable nesting areas, land being cleared for new developments could have a disproportionate impact on them.
New trees could take 100 to 150 years to develop the necessary tree hollows, he said.
Canberra is expected to become an even more important breeding site for superb parrots as areas to the north and west become increasingly hotter due to climate change.
Interested Canberrans can keep an eye out for the superb parrots flocking in coming months, primarily across the northern parts of the ACT, in Belconnen and Gungahlin suburbs.
They are most active in the morning and the late afternoon into the evening and often feed in large grassy areas like sporting ovals.
The males are a bright green with yellow cheeks and a red stripe under their necks, while females are a slightly more muted green without the facial markings.
Mr Cobden said they have a lovely temperament, mild-mannered compared to other parrots such as cockatoos or corellas, but this meant they can be "pushovers" when interacting with other birds.
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