Swift parrot painting day at Eaglehawk Neck

4 July 2024 |
Art and conservation came together for a perfect blend at The Eaglehawk Neck Hall last weekend, when Landcare Tasmania hosted a Swift Parrot painting workshop.

The session kicked off with an engaging presentation by Landcare Tasmania education coordinator Bianca Burford. She enthralled the audience with many amazing facts about the critically endangered swift parrot and shared ways to identify them. Everyone was astounded to learn there are less than 750 swift parrots left in the wild and that one of the main culprits to their decline was introduced sugar gliders, who prey on the birds and take over their nests. Bianca emphasised the importance of protecting the whole habitat for the swift parrots and that they need old trees with tree hollows for breeding.

Bianca talked about the swift parrots' preferred food (flowers from the Tasmanian blue gum and black gum trees and lerps, which is essentially bug poo!) and how important it is to preserve their nesting habitats and to record sightings. 

Education coordinator Bianca discussing the intricacies of identifying swift parrots, with their unique markings. Photo credit: Dawn Green.

Some fun facts from the day

  • Swift parrots are the fastest flying bird in the world! 
  • Each summer, every swift parrot in the world flies to Tasmania to breed, looking for a safe hollow to lay their eggs and raise their chicks. The flowering patterns can tell scientists where in Tasmania the birds will breed. There are only ever a small fraction of breeding sites available to the swift parrots each year. The birds fly together in a large flock.
  • Sugar gliders are an introduced species that are a real threat to the survival of swift parrots. Sugar gliders eat the eggs, chicks and the nesting females too! 

Savannah and her mum were excited to embark on the painting activity. Photo credit: Dawn Green.

Next up, artist Anna Arden-Wong led a session, encouraging everyone to experiment with colours and mediums and to create their own swift parrot painting, looking at the unique features of the parrot. There were lots of smiles and laughs as this took place, and everyone enjoyed using nature as their inspiration to create a wonderful variety of art work. 

Artist Anna Arden-Wong working alongside workshop participants on the nuances of watercolours. Photo credit: Dawn Green

Children shared their learnings from the day

"I didn't realise there were so few swift parrots left and it's important to protect them because there are such small numbers."
- Leah

"There's not many swift parrots and that's why I like them. We need to protect them because if we don't, the sugar gliders will eat them and there will not be many left."
- Savannah

"It's important for people to be more aware of what they are and how to protect them. I like linking art with education."
- Etta

"I like drawing swift parrots and using the information I've learned to figure out ways to protect them."
- Jessie

"Swift parrots need to be protected because they pollinate plants and there's not many of them left. I like doing the art because it makes you have a connection with them."
- Jarrah

Jarrah putting the finishing touches on her artwork. Photo credit: Dawn Green

To cap off the event, Ian Hoyle from Tasman Landcare Group spoke about the revegetation projects the group has been working on. It was fantastic to see a connection made between the local homeschool group and Tasman Landcare, thanks to this event, where they hope to collaborate around their yearly bird count and tree planting events in the future.

Displaying the final results! Photo credit: Dawn Green

Keen to learn more about swift parrots?


What can I do to help the swift parrot?

Join your local Landcare group and help to plant native trees, creating habitat for the swift parrot and animals on your local patch.
Find a Landcare group near you

Take part in a swift parrot survey. This survey program is run by Birdlife Australia in Victoria, NSW, ACT and Queensland.
And check out the Bob Brown Foundation's website to sign up for summer swift parrot surveys in Tasmania. 

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.