Swift Parrot Awareness Day! Huon Valley

14th May 2024 | 

Landcare Tasmania hosted a free ‘Swift Parrot Awareness Day’ on the 11th of May at Charlotte Cove Scout House. The session explored the various facets of swift parrot biology, conservation challenges, and practical steps individuals could take to make a difference for their survival.

Attendees enjoyed a diverse lineup of speakers, including experts such as Dr. Margie Morrice from the Threatened Species Unit at NRE, Andrew Hingston - Guide at Inala Nature Tours and Adjunct Researcher at University of Tasmania, representatives from the Friends of Garden Island Creek Landcare Group, as well as Luke Cooper and Anna Minchin from Landcare Tasmania. 

Throughout the day, participants delved into topics ranging from the swift parrot's preferred nesting and foraging habitats to the intricacies of nest box installation. Practical sessions offered insights into data logging on sightings and the collection and propagation of seeds crucial for the parrot's survival.

Margie Morrice shed light on the impact of sugar gliders in Tasmania. Did you know sugar gliders were introduced to Tasmania? These cute marsupials are thriving across the state, however this comes at a cost for swift parrots, which are critically endangered both federally and statewide. 

Swift parrots population projections suggest their population could dwindle to less than 50 individuals in the next decade. The survival of these birds depends on preserving their nesting habitats, which often compete with other species like sugar gliders and starlings. 

Margie shared insights into some successful conservation efforts, like the North Bruny trial where nest boxes have proven effective in boosting swift parrot breeding. These boxes need to meet certain specifications to attract swifties and deter competitors. Swift parrots are very selective about nesting sites, with only about 5% of hollows being suitable. They prefer deep chambers, small entrances, and wide floor spaces.

Andrew Hingston highlighted some of the reasons behind swift parrot fatalities, ranging from collisions with man-made structures to habitat loss. Interestingly, female swift parrots face a higher risk of predation while nesting, which skews the population towards males.

Planting the right trees, like blue and black gums, is crucial for swift parrot survival, but it's a waiting game as these trees take years to mature and flower. Meanwhile, invasive honeybees pose a threat by consuming nectar needed by swifties and even taking over their nests!

"By raising awareness and fostering discussion, we hoped to inspire meaningful action to safeguard these magnificent birds," said Landcare Tasmania’s Project Manager Anna Minchin, co-organiser of the Swift Parrot Awareness Day. "We were thrilled to bring together passionate individuals and experts to champion the cause of swift parrot conservation,"

The event had a blend of informative talks, engaging demonstrations, and spirited discussions, serving as a rallying point for those committed to preserving biodiversity in the region. 

This project is funded by the Australian Government’s Natural Heritage Trust and delivered by NRM South, a member of the Commonwealth Regional Delivery Partners panel.