Swift Parrot, Lathamus discolor Click to enlarge image
Swift Parrot, Lathamus discolor Image: Bird Explorers
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/

Fast Facts

  • IUCN Conservation Status
    CRITICALLY ENDANGERED (CR)
    Australian Federal Conservation Status
    Critically endangered
    NSW Conservation Status
    Endangered species
  • Classification
    Species
    discolor
    Genus
    Lathamus
    Family
    Psittacidae
    Order
    Psittaciformes
    Class
    Aves
    Phylum
    Chordata
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    25 cm

Swift Parrots breed only in Tasmania, along the eastern coastal strip, the Wellington ranges near Hobart and on Maria and Bruny Islands.

Identification

The Swift Parrot is a slim, medium-sized parrot with a streamlined shape in flight, angular pointed wings and a long pointed purple-red tail. The 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. The female is slightly duller, with a creamy underwing bar. In flight, the bright green body, dark flight feathers and scarlet underwing coverts are spectacular. They are noisy, active and showy, with a very fast, direct flight. This species is also known as the Red-faced or Red-shouldered Parrot.

Distribution

The Swift Parrot is endemic to (found only in) south-eastern Australia, breeding in Tasmania. It is found mainly in southern and central Victoria in winter and also in eastern New South Wales.



Habitat

Swift Parrots are found in dry sclerophyll forests and woodlands, suburban parks and gardens and flowering fruit trees. In Tasmania, they are often among Tasmanian Blue Gum, Eucalyptus globulus. They roost communally, often in the same tree each night. They are almost always in trees, only coming to ground to drink.

Seasonality

Swift Parrots have a regular annual migration pattern. All birds remain in Tasmania for breeding from September to March. Then in April, most move to the mainland for the winter, to Victoria and New South Wales. They are probably nomadic in winter, looking for flowering trees.

Feeding and diet

Swift Parrots feed in the outer canopy of flowering eucalypts, eating mainly nectar, as well as some psyllids and lerps, seeds and flowers. They are active and agile when feeding, often hanging upside down.

Communication

The usual contact call in flight is a loud, metallic 'chit chit' repeated three or four times in succession and soft chattering when feeding.

Breeding Behaviour/s

Swift Parrots breed only in Tasmania and many pairs breed close together. Timing may vary with the flowering of the Tasmanian Blue Gum. The nest is in a hollow in the trunk, a branch or spout of a living or dead gum. Pairs may return to the same nest site each year.

Breeding Season: September to January.

Economic/social impacts

Clearing of native forest vegetation in Tasmania and the mainland has caused declines in numbers. The Swift Parrot is listed federally as endangered, and as endangered in New South Wales. It is also listed as endangered in Tasmania and in Victoria.