Swift parrot

Swift parrot
Lathamus discolor

Photo by J.J. Harrison (Wikipedia)

Common name:

swift parrot (en); piriquito-andorinha (pt); perruche de Latham (fr); periquito migrador (es); schwalbensittich (de)

Order Psittaciformes
Family Psittacidae

This species breeds in south-eastern Tasmania and migrates north to to winter in mainland Australia, along the south-eastern coast.
The swift parrot is 25 cm long and has a wingspan of 32-36 cm. They weigh 45-75 g.


During the breeding season they occurs predominantly in grassy blue gum Eucalyptus globulus forests. Outside the breeding season they are found in dry sclerophyll forests and woodlands, suburban parks and gardens, especially in areas where there are and flowering fruit trees.

The swift parrot feeds mostly on nectar, mainly from eucalypts, but also eats psyllid insects and lerps, seeds and fruit.

They breed in September-December. The nest is in a hollow in the trunk, or branch of a living or dead gum, 6-20 m above the ground. There the female lays 3-5 white eggs which she incubates alone for about 25 days while being fed by the male. The chicks are fed by the female, but the male is the one who collects food for the whole family. The chicks fledge about 6 weeks after hatching. Each pair may produce 1-2 broods per season depending on food availability.
IUCN status – EN (Endangered)
The swift parrot has a very small breeding range and a global population estimated at just 1.000-2.500 individuals. The population is suspected to be decreasing in line with habitat loss and degradation, which has also caused range contractions. The main threat affecting this species is the ongoing reduction and fragmentation of blue gum forests for agriculture, residential development, plantation timber, sawlog production and clear-felling for woodchips. Over 50% of the original grassy blue gum forests in Tasmania have been cleared. Other threats include competition for the remaining nest-sites by common starlings Sturnus vulgaris and high mortality through collision with windows, vehicles and fences. Habitat loss is also a problem in their wintering areas in south-eastern Australia.

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