Swift Parrot

Swift parrots (Lathamus discolor) are one of Australia’s rare species of parrot and are listed as critically endangered. It is estimated that less than 2,000 birds live in the wild.

The Swift Parrot is a slim, medium-sized parrot about 25cm long. Its body is mostly bright green, with a dark blue patch on the crown. The forehead to throat is crimson and there is a crimson patch at the bend of the wing. One of its most distinctive features from a distance is its long (12cm), thin tail, which is dark red, setting it apart from other Lorikeets and Parrots.

Swift Parrot feeding on blossoms by Chris TzarosThe Swift Parrot is found only in south-eastern Australia, migrating to Tasmania to breed in September to January. It is found mainly in southern and central Victoria in winter and also in eastern New South Wales. Swift Parrots migrate the longest distance of any parrot in the world.

Swift Parrot feeds mainly on nectar of the Swamp Mahogany, Spotted Gum, Red Bloodwood, Forest Red Gum, Mugga Ironbark, and White Box. It can also feed on insects and spiders, as well as native and cultivated fruits.

While on the mainland, they are nomadic, determined by the supply of nectar. During dry years, when the Eucalypts’ flowering is poor, Swift Parrots are forced to travel far and wide to find sufficient food.

Why is the Swift Parrot a threatened species?

  • Loss of key Eucalypt habitat and foraging tree species contributes to the population decline of the species.
  • Lowland fertile woodland areas have been cleared for agriculture and residential activity, reducing the extent of foraging habitat.
  • High fire frequency and drought conditions can impact on food resource availability.
  • Swift Parrot are subject to predation by feral animals and exclusion from food sources by other aggressive bird species.

How you can help the Swift Parrot

  • Protection of existing swift parrot habitats such as Mugga Iron Bark, White Box, Grey Box and Yellow Box.
  • Retain stands of winter-flowering feed-trees, particularly large mature individuals.
  • Establishing native vegetation on your farm can help provide future habitat and feed trees for swift parrots.
  • Plant winter-flowering tree species where appropriate.
  • Participate in biannual surveys to locate the winter foraging areas for this species.

LLS projects to protect the Swift Parrot

Central West Securing the Swift Parrot project

The project will be undertaken in collaboration with Birdlife Australia and the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.  A key outcome of the project is to increase understanding and capacity of the community to be able to identify the Swift Parrot and assist in recording sightings in the Central West.

The community can get involved through community events, or by bringing your binoculars and participating in our bird surveys during Autumn and Spring.

You can record Swift Parrot sightings through the Birdata website or app.

This project is supported by Central West Local Land Services, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

Contact Libby McIntyre libby.mcintyre@lls.nsw.gov.au for more information.

Threatened species of the Central West Swift Parrot factsheet PDF, 814.48 KB.

Riverina Saving Swift Parrots and Threatened Woodland Species

Each year around April, swift parrots fly from Tasmania to the Riverina in search of winter-flowering feed trees. Riverina Local Land Services is offering funding to support landholders to protect, restore and establish swift parrot habitat within the Wagga Wagga local government area.

This project aims to improve the long-term viability of nationally endangered swift parrot’s and co-occurring threatened species through the planting of habitat and protection of mature feed trees. Assistance is available towards the cost of standard fencing materials to minimise livestock damage and allow natural regeneration.

For more information contact Allie Maffei, Senior Land Services Officer on 0427 662 811 or allie.hendy@lls.nsw.gov.au

For more information on what we are doing in the Riverina, check out our factsheet.

Greater Sydney Saving the Swifty

The critically endangered Swift Parrot and Regent Honeyeater are priorities for protection under a four-year project funded under the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program. Led by Greater Sydney Local Land Services, the project will see $400,000 invested into restoring habitat for the native birds throughout key areas of the Central Coast and Northern Sydney.

The project will involve the improvement and restoration of key habitat including box woodland and forest through strategic fencing, revegetation works, weed and pest animal control and community education.

Raising community awareness around the plight of these species is a major priority under this project.

This project is supported by Greater Sydney Local Land Services, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

Download our Swift Parrot  PDF, 1137.85 KB factsheet.

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