Australia’s Migratory Parrots

Many birds evolved to find a breeding ground in one part of the world, and a rest of the year home in another part of the world. The birds migrate, and tons of videos and books have been written about most of them. Still astonishing, how high and how far some of these creatures can go. And that it’s worth it to raise young in a very fertile area but not to live there year round.

I stumbled on a photo on Pinterest of a migrating parrot. And I began to think of all the parrots I have ever heard of that migrated. My total was zero. Oh, sure, they fly in flocks around the forest and feed until full to the food is gone. Then they go somewhere else. But that’s not technically migrating.

There appear to be only 2 parrots that migrate, and a third that may migrate. Some do and some don’t. Depends on what’s on tv that week, or something.

These migrating parrots are all from Tasmania and Australia, and all seem to be having a spot of trouble avoiding extinction. It’s one thing to go flying across the Bass Straights, battling cold winter winds and trying to stay on course. But then you get to South Australia and the area has been turned into cattle ranches or something. There’s no food, no roosting places, and it just makes extinction seem that much cheerier.

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The orange bellied parrot is probably going to leave us soon. There are around 50 individuals left in the wild. They are not very big to be making such a long, dangerous trip every year.

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Next, the swift parrot is also taking a long decline into extinction. At this time, there are 1000 breeding pairs, by best estimates. This parrot is a nectar feeder, like lorys, and is dependent on the blue gum (eucalyptus for Americans) tree. The reason the bird migrates is due to the flowering season of this tree. So when the eucalyptus forests are cleared by the acre every day, the swifts have no food for their tired selves after migration or for raising the babies.

Finally, the blue winged parrot is doing well in some parts of Tasmania and not so well in others.

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Some groups of the birds migrate, and some do not. They are similar to the orange bellied parrot, about the same size and similar food requirements. So maybe when the orange bellied parrots say, “Come on, we’re flying north!” the blue wings shrug and say, “Okay, but there better be some good grub when we get there.” Only with Tasmanian accents.

Not only is the loss of habitat hurting these parrots, but also their inability to scope out man-made structures while in flight. This is common with lots of birds, but for very endangered parrots, it’s a tragedy that can be corrected. Putting decals on your windows or planting a tree or tall plant in front of it, putting shade cloth over chain link fences, and keeping your cats indoors will help not just the swift, blue wing, and orange bellied parrots, but many other bird species as well.

More information on this subject can be found at these links:

Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Thursday.

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