Orange-bellied ParrotNEW The Newsletter of the Orange-bellied Parrot Recovery Program - July 2009
On the brink of extinction the orange-bellied parrot (Neophema chrysogaster) has been ranked as one of the world's rarest and most endangered species. Further information can be found in the National Recovery Plan for the Orange-bellied Parrot.
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. It nests in hollows in eucalypt trees which 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.
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.
The orange-bellied parrot is approximately 20 cm 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.
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. 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.
Have a listen to their vocalisations here.
For bushwalkers and those who are able to fly into the Tasmanian southwest, 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.
Contact: Threatened Species Section - EnquiriesThreatened Species Section
3rd floor, 134 Macquarie Street
(GPO Box 44 Hobart 7001)
HOBART TAS 7000
Phone: 03 6233 8759
Fax: 03 6233 3477
Department switchboard: 1300 368 550 (local call cost)
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