Red alert for rare parrot

By Zoe Patterson Ross | September 6, 2013

Orange-bellied parrots are one of the world’s rarest birds. Save them from going belly-up.


ORANGE-BELLIED PARROTS ARE one of the world’s rarest birds. With a wild population of fewer than 50 birds, this iconic Australian parrot is critically endangered. Breeding in Tasmania and migrating to Victoria and South Australia for the winter, these plucky interstate travellers are now a coveted sight for bird-lovers, but, without heightened conservation efforts, may be seen no more.

Did you know?

Hatchlings from the captive breeding program could hopefully bolster the wild population. (Photo: Justin McManus)
    – Tzeet! A great way to identify the orange-bellied parrot is to listen out for their distinctive bird call, which can be heard online through Birdlife Australia.

    – Fewer than 50 remain in the wild. However, the captive breeding population provides hope for future releases.

    – Birdwatchers often confuse these brightly coloured parrots with the similarly hued blue-winged parrot.

Survival challenges

At Melaleuca, in south-west Tasmania, low numbers of parrots continue to breed in captivity. Captive-breeding programs currently monitor about 280 birds, with hopes of releasing them back into the wild soon.

However, with their coastal habitat – composed mainly of salt marshes and eucalyptus trees – in both south-east mainland Australia and Tasmania disappearing, these parrots face life in the wild without food or shelter. Factors such as predation, spread of disease, loss of genetic variation and severe weather events may also influence their long-term survival.

The Recovery Plan

The plight of this rare parrot has not gone unnoticed. They survive due to the enthusiasm of dedicated researchers and volunteers.

This September and October, the Society has joined forces with Tasmanian government researchers and volunteer conservation bodies to make a difference to this bird’s future. Proceeds from the AG Society fundraiser will go to Wildcare’s Save the OBP Fund, which supports wild population recovery activities that aim to enhance the survival prospects of the orange-bellied parrot.

You can find more information on information on Wildcare’s Save the OBP Fund here, more about the official status of the Orange-bellied parrot here, or check out Birdlife Australia’s resources here including a link to hear the parrot’s birdcall.


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