There has been much publicity in recent years about the plight of Swift Parrots, an Australian bird which along with the Regent Honeyeater and Orange- bellied Parrot, is on the verge of extinction.
They are classified as critically endangered. It was estimated in 2020, that only 300 birds remain in the wild and in the next twenty years they will become extinct, a situation caused almost exclusively by human actions.
Swift Parrots and Orange-bellied Parrots are the only two migratory parrots in the world.
Swift Parrots breed only in Tasmania, in forest with suitable tree hollows which are only found in old growth forests, or trees more than twenty years old.
Deforestation in Tasmania has resulted in 70% of suitable forest no longer existing. In addition, the introduction of sugar-gliders to Tasmania from the mainland has resulted in the devastating predation of nesting female parrots and their eggs.
In the Autumn each year, the entire wild population migrates across the Bass Strait to forage on flowering eucalypts in open box-ironbark forests in Eastern NSW and central Victoria.
They are nomadic, spending weeks/months in some areas where the nectar- bearing blossoms are available and only briefly in other sites.
"Swiftys" are small, about 25cms long, including tail, similar in size to the more familiar Scaley-breasted Lorikeets. Their colouring is mostly green, perfect for camouflage while feeding, with a crimson forehead and throat and a dark blue patch on the crown.
They feed in the outer canopy of flowering gums, eating nectar, psyllids and lerps and some seeds and flowers. They are noisy, active, and showy when feeding and very agile, often found hanging upside down. They only come to the ground to drink.
The Hunter Valley is one of the few places they regularly visit and can be found in small numbers in the Cessnock Woodlands and in also in Lake Macquarie, where already this season 3 to 5 birds have been sighted feeding in flowering trees near the water.
Birdlife Australia has for the last twenty years facilitated surveys by volunteer birdwatchers, for Swift Parrots and Regent Honeyeaters.
In 2021 these surveys will be conducted between April and August. If you are interested in participating in this worthwhile activity, information can be found at; https://birdlife.org.au/projects/woodland-birds-for-biodiversity/swift-parrot-search
Hunter Bird Observer's Club website can be found at: http://www.hboc.org.au/