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East Coast Whale Trail opened

30/09/2016

Whales and visitors to the East Coast will get closer together with a series of new whale viewing sites created between larapuna/Bay of Fires and the Tasman Peninsula.More

Upgraded helipads improve safety for the Overland Track

29/09/2016

The Tasmanian Air Rescue Trust has provided funding to enable the upgrading of helipads on the Overland Track, improving the ability of rescue teams to reach walkers and staff in case of emergency.More

Experience national parks through art

23/09/2016

Arts in Parks is a project that celebrates the two decade long partnership between the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service and Arts Tasmania to deliver the wilderness residency program for artists.More

Swift Parrot, Lathamus discolor

Swift Parrot (Photograph by Peter Tonelli)

Swift Parrot (Photograph by Peter Tonelli)

The Swift Parrot is a threatened species, largely due to the loss of its habitat. See our threatened species pages for full details of its plight.

Description

The Swift Parrot is 230-250 mm long, bigger than a budgerigar but smaller than a rosella. Streamlined for rapid flight, it is green with red on the throat, chin and forehead. It also has red patches on its shoulders and under the wings. It has a blue crown and cheeks, blue on its wings and a long pointed tail. It can be readily identified in flight by its bright red underwing patches.

Habitat

The Swift Parrot occurs in south-eastern Australia. It is a migratory bird that only breeds in Tasmania and over winters on mainland Australia. The breeding range is largely restricted to the east of Tasmania within the range of the blue gum, Eucalyptus globulus.

Diet

Swift Parrots are commonly observed in the Hobart area feeding on flowers of introduced eucalypts, particularly pink flowering gum. When they are feeding in small groups on flowers, they chatter quietly amongst themselves. Large feeding flocks also occur. These are noisy affairs with birds squabbling and chasing each other in and out of the trees.

Breeding

The Swift Parrot usually arrives in Tasmania in August. Nest sites in eastern Tasmania are predominantly located near the coast in dry forests on upper slopes and ridge tops. They make their nests inside a hollow tree branch or trunk in very old or dead trees, which can take hundreds of years to form. Such hollows are very important homes for many birds, and animals like possums and bats.

In the breeding season, males and females form pairs. It is not unusual to find more than one pair nesting close to each other. Nest sites may be re-used but not necessarily in successive years. The use of a particular nest site depends on the availability of food in that area.

After the breeding season, in February and March, the entire population flies north, dispersing throughout Victoria and NSW. Like other migratory species, swift parrots form into flocks prior to migrating. Some of these can be quite large consisting of up to 500 birds. It appears they break up into small flocks of 10-20 birds to cross Bass Strait during the day.

Distribution Map courtesy Natural Values Atlas, data from theLIST
© 2010 State of Tasmania

Call

Its call is a "kik-kik-kik."

Distribution

Found in suitable habitat in eastern and north coastal Tasmania. The species migrates to south-east mainland Australia during the winter.