Thursday, June 19, 2008

Orange Bellied Parrot


On the brink of extinction the orange-bellied parrot has been ranked as one of the world's rarest and most endangered species. 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.

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