Swift Parrot Myat Ticic/ClimateWatch user

Swift Parrot

Lathamus discolor

Did You Know?

  • Its average weight is 65 grams
  • It is federally listed as Endangered
  • It undertakes the longest migration of any parrot species in the world
  • Its other common names include: Red-faced or Red-shouldered Parrot, Swift or Swift-flying Lorikeet, Red-faced, Red-shouldered, Swift or Swift-flying Parakeet, Clink, Keet, and Talking Keet
FactBox Image

Mostly bright green, with a blue crown, cheeks and colouring on its wings. It has red around its bill, throat and forehead, and bright red patches under each wing. The red on its throat is edged with yellow and its long, pointed tail is purple-red. The female is slightly duller, with a creamy bar under its wings.

Size

About 25 cm; ; Wingspan 32 – 36 cm

Behaviour

Call

A distinctive "kik-kik-kik" usually given in flight, and soft chattering when feeding.

Diet

Mainly nectar from flowering eucalypts, as well as seeds, flowers, fruit and insects. Favoured feed trees include the Tasmanian Blue Gum, Swamp Gum, Swamp Mahogany, Spotted Gum, Red Bloodwood, Mugga Ironbark, and White Box. It is an active and agile feeder, often hanging upside down. It occasionally comes to the ground to drink.

Movement

Very fast and direct in flight. It is migratory, breeding in Tasmania and then moving to south-eastern mainland Australia (Victoria and New South Wales, with smaller numbers in south-eastern Queensland, the Australian Capital Territory and south-eastern South Australia) for the non-breeding season (from February–March to September–October). Its movements on the mainland are poorly understood, moving in response to food supply. Some have been recorded in Tasmania during the non-breeding season. It is usually seen in small groups of up to 30 birds, but sometimes congregates in much larger flocks.

Breeding

It breeds only in Tasmania, mostly along the eastern coastal strip, the Wellington Range near Hobart and on Maria and Bruny Islands. It nests in hollows in old-growth trees across a range of eucalypt species. Many pairs breed close together and nest sites may be re-used, but not necessarily in successive years. Three to five eggs are laid which are incubated by the female for around 25 days. Young birds leave the nest after about six weeks. Two clutches per season may be laid, depending on the availability of food resources.

Species: WhatToObserve Image

What to Observe

  • Courting/Mating

  • Calling

  • Feeding

  • Bird on chicks

  • Bird on eggs

  • Bird on nest

  • Bird feeding young

Species: WhenAndWhere Image

When and Where

When To Look

  • From September to January for breeding behaviour
  • Nesting occurs from late September to November
  • Egg laying usually occurs during October and November
  • Young birds leave the nest from early December to late January
  • Migratory birds are in south-eastern mainland Australia from February–March to September–October

Where To Look

  • In south-eastern Australia; Its breeding grounds are in eastern and northern coastal Tasmania, and in the non-breeding season it occurs along the east coast of mainland Australia, mainly in southern and central Victoria and eastern NSW (including the South-West Slopes)
  • It is also occasionally found in south-eastern Queensland, the ACT and south-eastern SA
  • In dry open, eucalypt forests and woodlands, suburban parks and gardens and orchards. In Tasmania they are often seen among Tasmanian Blue Gum
Species: WhatElse Image

What Else?

The Swift Parrot's distinctive flight call, streamlined body, long pointed tail and bright-red patches under its wing enable it to be readily identified.

Similar Species

Musk Lorikeet (Glossopsitta concinna) has a green, not red, patch under its wings.

Scaly-breasted Lorikeet (Trichoglossus chlorolepidotus) has scaly, yellow markings over its underbody compared to the uniform yellow-green breast and belly of the Swift Parrot, a green face with a red bill and a long pink-orange bar on its underwings.