Swift Parrots breed only in Tasmania, along the eastern coastal strip, the Wellington ranges near Hobart and on Maria and Bruny Islands.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The usual contact call in flight is a loud, metallic 'chit chit' repeated three or four times in succession and soft chattering when feeding.
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.
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.