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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Its call is a "kik-kik-kik."
Found in suitable habitat in eastern and north coastal Tasmania. The species migrates to south-east mainland Australia during the winter.