The Swift Parrot (Lathamus discolour) is the fastest parrot in the world, but is on a rapid path to extinction. There are only approximatley 2000 Swift Parrots left in the wild and if improvements are not made now to their foraging and breeding habitats they could be extinct within 3 generations – that’s just 16 years. This speedy little bird travels across Bass Strait to the Australian Mainland to feed in open eucalypt and box-ironbark forest each year, before returning to Tasmania to breed in the spring.
Tasmania’s floral emblem – the Blue Gum – is critical to the survival of the Swift Parrot, as they provide nectar for feeding and hollows for nesting. Yet these trees have been extensively logged, meaning that there are less Blue Gums stands and fewer hollows, and the Blue Gum forests are less connected, which means that the birds have to fly greater distances to find nectar.
Threats: Habitat destruction and modification, lack of feed and nesting trees, predation by sugar gliders
Our work: Propagating and revegetating feed and nesting trees, constructing glider-proof nest boxes, habitat management
Taking action to conserve the Swift Parrot
To help address the national decline of the Swift Parrot, Conservation Volunteers Australia (CVA) has established the Swift Parrot as a priority species under our threatened species recovery program Wild Futures. The program provides practical on-ground action to conserve our unique wildlife in line with approved plans. We focus on a range of species and threatening processes, and working with recovery teams and other experts we assemble resources and volunteers to ensure a future for our precious wildlife.
Description and Distribution
Swift Parrots are a small, fast-flying parrot that breed in Tasmania and travel across to the mainland during winter to feed (see map). They are approximately 240mm long and weigh only 70-80 grams. They are a bright grass green colour with patches of red on the throat, chin and forehead which are bordered by yellow. In flight the give a distinctive call of kik-kik-kik and you will see a long tail and flashes of bright red or crimson under the wing.
Distribution of the Swift Parrot in Australia (Source: National Recovery Plan for the Swift Parrot Lathamus discolour).
Help save the Swift Parrot
You can be a part of these important projects by volunteering to help protect the Swift Parrot, or donating to our Wild Futures program to ensure their survival. Conservation Volunteers Australia is working with state governments, local councils and land managers to mobilisie and connect people with nature, making it easy for people to make a difference and help secure Swift Parrots in the wild.
We have urgent need of support for a number of practical conservation activities linked to protecting the Swift Parrot, including:
• Contribute to the National Recovery Plan for the Swift Parrot.
• Propagate and plant Blue Gums, other eucalypts (white, scribbly, black) and associated understorey plants to connect habitats and create feeding and breeding sites.
• Construct glider proof nest boxes to provide safe nesting places.
• Manage invasive species to protect habitat.
Photos © Eric Woehler and Valeria Ruoppolo, BirdLife Tasmania