The southwest slopes of NSW are home to one of Australia's rarest parrots: and right now the exquisite and endangered Superb Parrot is looking for nesting trees for the coming season and farmers are giving them a helping hand.
Among those landholders providing shelter for the native birds, Ashley and Caroline Hermes are custodians of their 930ha family property which is a mixed farming operation at Bethungra.
They also protect the native tree cover on their property and carefully manage trees along waterways.
"Our approach to farm management protects the soil, reduces salinity, increases production and helps local wildlife," Ashley Hermes said.
"We have been concerned for many years with the removal of farm trees that are often over a hundred years old.
"These are the trees on which various types of birds and other wildlife depend."
Ashley and Caroline Hermes have teamed up with Ashley's wildlife biologist brother Neil to erect special nest boxes along streamlines on their property to try to help the Superb Parrots.
"Superb parrots are endangered birds and the loss of old hollow trees has badly affected the birds," Neil Hemes said.
"Putting up nest boxes may be part of the answer to increasing the number of these beautiful birds."
One of our challenges for the Hermes' was to get the nest boxes high enough into the trees and the support of Trevor Collins and staff at Elouera Hire in Cootamundra, with the use of their cherry-picker was greatly appreciated.
"With the help of this machine we could get the boxes up to 8 metres into the trees," Ashley Hermes said.
"Superb Parrots are pretty fussy about the hollows they like to nest in.
"Pairs may nest in the same hollow for many years and if their nest tree is cut down a pair may find it hard to locate a suitable new tree hollow."
Neil Hermes noted that nest boxes have been tried in other parts of the Southwest slopes where the birds occur but, to date, Superb Parrots have not taken to them.
The Superb Parrot (Polytelis swainsonii) is a mostly green parrot only found in inland south-eastern Australia where it lives through the inland slopes and plains of southern NSW (including the Australian Capital Territory) and into northern Victoria.
"It is a graceful slim bird with long narrow wings and Superb parrots sometimes breed in small colonies of up to ten pairs," Neil Hermes said.
"The Superb Parrot has suffered a decline in range and abundance over the last 100 years and today the major threats include clearing, competition for nest hollows, trapping for the pet trade and road kills."
While Neil Hermes thought the total wild population of Superb Parrots may be less than 10,000 birds, Ashley and Caroline Hermes have seen pairs scouting out nest sites on their property in the past few weeks where nesting usually begins around September.
The Hermes' brothers are hoping that their specially designed nest boxes might encourage the birds to adopt the new homes.