Our Latest News

Update on work to restore access to flood-affected sites

23/11/2016

The Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) is continuing repair work to restore access to sites affected by the June flood event.More

Maria Island ferry service will unlock tourism opportunities

22/11/2016

The Tasmanian Government has secured a new, year-round regular passenger ferry service to Maria Island National Park, which will help the island fulfil its potential to be one of the state's best tourism attractions.More

Replacement of facilities at Lake Tahune

21/11/2016

A tender has been advertised for the demolition and replacement of the hut and toilet facilities at Lake Tahune on the Frenchmans Cap walking track.More

Orange-Bellied Parrot, Neophema chrysogaster

The Orange-bellied parrot
(Photo by Dave Watts

Orange-bellied Parrot
(Photo by Dave Watts)

On the brink of extinction the Orange-bellied Parrot has been ranked as one of the world's rarest and most endangered species. Full details can be found on our threatened species pages.

For bushwalkers and those who are able to fly into the Tasmanian south-west, there is a good chance of seeing Orange-bellied Parrots. At Melaleuca, in the Southwest National Park, a bird hide has been built especially for observing the birds. From mid-October until the end of March, the birds are regular visitors, coming and going throughout the day. However the best times to see them are in the early mornings or late afternoons. There are two bushwalkers' huts with room for up to 20 people.

Description

The Orange-bellied Parrot is approximately 200 mm long, a little larger than a budgerigar. Its plumage is bright grass-green above and mostly yellow below with a bright orange patch in the centre of the lower belly. It has a bright azure blue patch on the outer wing and a blue bar across the forehead above the nostrils.

Habitat

The Orange-bellied Parrot is a migratory bird, which breeds only in coastal south-west Tasmania and spends the winter in coastal Victoria and South Australia. In Tasmania it occurs in buttongrass moorland interspersed with patches of forest or tea tree scrub.

Diet

It feeds on the seeds of several sedges and heath plants, including buttongrass. Its main food preferences are found in sedgelands which have not been burned for between 3-15 years. Also included in the diet are seeds of three Boronia species and the everlasting daisy, Helichrysum pumilum.

After breeding, migrating birds move gradually northwards up the west coast, through the Hunter Group and King Island in Bass Strait and on to the mainland. On the journey the birds usually feed on beach-front vegetation including salt tolerant species such as sea rocket, Cakile maritima. They also eat various coastal native and introduced grasses.

Breeding

It nests high in hollows in eucalypt trees that grow adjacent to its feeding plains. In early October the birds arrive in the south west and depart after the breeding season usually in March and April. Four to six eggs are laid.

Call

The alarm call is given when the bird is disturbed or upset. It is a harsh, rapidly repeated 'zit-zit-zit', usually given whilst the bird is rising from a perch or the ground.

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

In level flight, a single 'tseet' note is given each time it dips. The call is one of the surest methods of identification as the appearance of the plumage often varies according to the light.

Distribution

Fewer than 70 individuals of this rare and endangered species occur in suitable habitat in the far southwest of Tasmania. Birds migrate following the breeding season, and may be seen along the northwest coast and King Island.

Current Status

The Orange-bellied parrot is listed as endangered under the Tasmanian Threatened Species Protection Act 1995. It is also listed as critically endangered under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and has the dubious honour of being one of the most endangered birds species in Australia.