Biodiversity

Species Profile and Threats Database


For information to assist proponents in referral, environmental assessments and compliance issues, refer to the Policy Statements and Guidelines (where available), the Conservation Advice (where available) or the Listing Advice (where available).
 
In addition, proponents and land managers should refer to the Recovery Plan (where available) or the Conservation Advice (where available) for recovery, mitigation and conservation information.

EPBC Act Listing Status Listed as Endangered
Listed marine
Listing and Conservation Advices Commonwealth Listing Advice on Lathamus discolor (Swift Parrot) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2012f) [Listing Advice].
 
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan required, this species had a recovery plan in force at the time the legislation provided for the Minister to decide whether or not to have a recovery plan (19/2/2007).
 
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans National Recovery Plan for the Swift Parrot (Lathamus discolor) (Birds Australia, 2011) [Recovery Plan].
 
Other EPBC Act Plans Threat Abatement Plan for Beak and Feather Disease Affecting Endangered Psittacine Species (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2005q) [Threat Abatement Plan].
 
Threat Abatement Plan for predation by feral cats (Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), 2008zzp) [Threat Abatement Plan].
 
Policy Statements and Guidelines Survey Guidelines for Australia's Threatened Birds. EPBC Act survey guidelines 6.2 (Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), 2010l) [Admin Guideline].
 
Federal Register of
    Legislative Instruments
Declaration under s178, s181, and s183 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 - List of threatened species, List of threatened ecological communities and List of threatening processes (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000) [Legislative Instrument].
 
Declaration under section 248 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 - List of Marine Species (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000c) [Legislative Instrument].
 
State Government
    Documents and Websites
ACT:Swift Parrot (Lathamus discolor): A vulnerable species. Action Plan No. 16 (ACT Government, 1999f) [State Action Plan].
ACT:Woodlands for Wildlife: ACT Lowland Woodland Conservation Strategy (ACT Government, 2004) [State Action Plan].
ACT:Swift Parrot (Lathamus discolor). A vulnerable species (ACT Government, 2005c) [Information Sheet].
NSW:New South Wales Murray Biodiversity Management Plan (Murray Catchment Management Authority (Murray CMA), 2012) [State Action Plan].
NSW:Swift Parrot - endangered species listing. NSW Scientific Committee - final determination (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2000b) [Internet].
NSW:Nectar Food Trees - North east NSW. Natural Resource Management Advisory Series: Note 4 (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2004l) [Information Sheet].
NSW:Swift Parrot - profile (NSW Office of Environment & Heritage (NSW OEH), 2014b) [Internet].
QLD:Swift parrot (Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (DEHP), 2013bc) [Database].
QLD:Enhancing biodiversity hotspots along Western Queensland stock routes (Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management (Qld DERM), 2009a) [Management Plan].
TAS:Swift Parrot (Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (Tas. DPIPWE), 2009h) [Internet].
TAS:Lathamus discolor (Swift Parrot): Species Management Profile for Tasmania's Threatened Species Link (Threatened Species Section (TSS), 2014sx) [State Action Plan].
VIC:Flora and Fauna Guarantee Action Statement 169 - Swift Parrot Lathamus discolor (Webster, A., R. Price & K. Lowe, 2003) [State Action Plan].
State Listing Status
ACT: Listed as Vulnerable (Nature Conservation Act 1980 (Australian Capital Territory): 2013 list)
NSW: Listed as Endangered (Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (New South Wales): December 2013 list)
QLD: Listed as Endangered (Nature Conservation Act 1992 (Queensland): May 2014 list)
SA: Listed as Endangered (National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972 (South Australia): June 2011 list)
TAS: Listed as Endangered (Threatened Species Protection Act 1995 (Tasmania): September 2012 list)
VIC: Listed as Threatened (Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 (Victoria): February 2014 list)
Non-statutory Listing Status
IUCN: Listed as Endangered (Global Status: IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: 2013.1 list)
VIC: Listed as Endangered (Advisory List of Threatened Vertebrate Fauna in Victoria: 2013 list)
NGO: Listed as Endangered (The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2010)
Scientific name Lathamus discolor [744]
Family Psittacidae:Psittaciformes:Aves:Chordata:Animalia
Species author (Shaw, 1790)
Infraspecies author  
Reference  
Distribution map Species Distribution Map

This is an indicative distribution map of the present distribution of the species based on best available knowledge. See map caveat for more information.

Illustrations Google Images

Other common names: Red-faced or Red-shouldered Parrot, Swift or Swift-flying Lorikeet, Red-faced, Red-shouldered, Swift or Swift-flying Parakeet, Clink, Keet, Talking Keet


This Swift Parrot is a conventionally accepted species. The Swift Parrot is the only recognised species of the genus Lathamus. No sub-species are recognised (Higgins 1999). Lathamus belongs to the subfamily Platycercinae, the broad-tailed parrots which includes the genera Platycercus, Barnadius, Purpreicephalus, Northiella, Psephotus and Neophema (Christidis et al. 1991; Higgins 1999). Although the Swift Parrot superficially resembles lorikeets in habit and form (nectar feeder with brush tongue), it is generally accepted that the similarities between the Swift Parrot and the lorikeets have arisen through convergence (Christidis & Boles 1994; Forshaw 1981; Gartrell et al. 2000; Smith 1975).

The Swift Parrot is mostly bright green in colour, with dark-blue patches on the crown, a prominent red face, and the chin and throat are narrowly bordered with yellow. It is approximately 25 cm in length, the wingspan is 32 to 36 cm and it weighs about 65g. It is a slim, medium-sized parrot with angular pointed wings and a slender tail giving it the characteristic streamlined flight-silhouette (Higgins 1999).

This species is sometimes confused with lorikeets, most likely when seen flying overhead. In this situation the Swift Parrot is then best distinguished by calls, all of which are quite different from the harsh screeching or buzzing calls of lorikeets, and also by its slimmer build and distinctly longer finely pointed tail. No lorikeet has the combination of red underwing-coverts and undertail-coverts seen in the adult male Swift Parrot (Higgins 1999).

The Swift Parrot can be distinguished from the Musk Lorikeet (Glossopsitta concinna) by its red (compared with green) underwing-coverts. It can be distinguished from the Scaly-breasted Lorikeet (Trichoglossus chlorolepidotus) by the uniformly yellow-green breast and belly, less red on underwing-coverts and (when present) shorter creamy underwing-bar and red undertail-coverts (scaly-breasted always has scaly, yellow markings over underbody, long pink-orange underwing-bar extending farther out onto primaries, and green undertail-coverts) (Higgins 1999).

Swift Parrots are usually seen in small parties of up to 30 birds, or occasionally in larger flocks (of several hundred birds) around sources of abundant food. There have also been a few extraordinary reports of flocks numbering in excess of 1000 birds (Higgins 1999; C. Tzaros June 2005, pers comm.). They are migratory. They breed in Tasmania and then move to mainland Australia in autumn for the non-breeding season. Most of the population winters in Victoria and New South Wales, before returning to Tasmania in spring. They are generally gregarious when breeding; many pairs nest in close proximity, and thus are considered loose colonies (Higgins 1999).

The Swift Parrot is endemic to south-eastern Australia. It breeds only in Tasmania, and migrates to mainland Australia in autumn (Higgins 1999; Swift Parrot Recovery Team 2001), undertaking the longest migration of any parrot species in the world (Tzaros 2002).

In Tasmania, this species has been recorded in all regions, but is more widespread along the eastern coast south of Saint Helens, mainly from Swanport south to Southport (Higgins 1999). It rarely occurs in the far north-east, it is sparse on the western coast, on Maatsuyker Island, and from Cox Bight north to Corinna and Waratah (Higgins 1999). In the north it is most widespread from Burnie east to near Georgetown, and upstream along Tamar River to Launceston (Higgins 1999).

Records of this species are sparsely scattered around Smithton, Stanley and Rocky Cape. It is widespread on the Central Plateau from near Lake Sorrell west to Frenchmans Gap, and from Hamilton north to Cradle Mountain. It has been recorded on passage on King Island and occasionally on Flinders Island (Higgins 1999).

The breeding range is always within 8 km of the coast, largely restricted to an area of less than 500 km² along the eastern coastal strip between Saint Helens and Lune River, including nearshore islands such as Maria Island and Bruny Island (Higgins 1999; Swift Parrot Recovery Team 2001). The greatest densities occur between Cape Bernier and Orford and the Wellington Range near Hobart. A smaller breeding population occurs in northern Tasmania between Launceston and Smithton (Higgins 1999; Swift Parrot Recovery Team 2001).

This species is semi-nomadic during winter, foraging in dry woodlands mainly in Victoria and New South Wales. Smaller but significant numbers have been recorded regularly in south-eastern Queensland and occasionally in the Australian Capital Territory and south-eastern South Australia (Swift Parrot Recovery Team 2001).

In Victoria, it is found in dry forests and woodlands of the box-ironbark region of the inland slopes of the Great Dividing Range, mainly between Stawell in the central west and Wodonga in the north-east. It rarely extends inland to around the southern Wimmera and southern Mallee regions (Higgins 1999; Swift Parrot Recovery Team 2001). There are occasional records from the northern riverine plain (e.g. Tzaros & Davidson 1996). It has also been occasionally recorded south of the divide in Gippsland and east Gippsland. Each year some records come from suburban Melbourne, and the dry forests and woodlands of Melbourne and the Geelong districts (Higgins 1999; Swift Parrot Recovery Team 2001).

Until recently it was considered that the New South Wales wintering range was mostly on the western slopes region along the inland slopes of the Great Dividing Range, and some areas along the northern and southern coasts including the Sydney region. However, increasing evidence suggests that coastal plains forests from southern to northern New South Wales are also extremely important (Swift Parrot Recovery Team 2001). There have also been records from the Australian Capital Territory in the Canberra area and the Namadgi National Park (Swift Parrot Recovery Team 2001).

Recent records from southern Queensland have come from the Gold Coast, Noosa, Toowoomba, Warwick and Lockyer Valley areas and records from south-eastern South Australia have come from the Bordertown-Naracoorte area (Swift Parrot Recovery Team 2001).

In Victoria the species is known to occur on Commonwealth land at the Puckapunyal Military area near Seymour (Defence Environmental Consortium 2001).

Extent of occurrence, as estimated from BirdLife International GIS, is 860 000 km², and is likely to be decreasing. This estimate is considered to be of medium reliability (Garnett & Crowley 2000). Extent of occurrence appears to have changed little in the past 100 years (Garnett & Crowley 2000; C. Tzaros June 2005, pers. comm.; see also Higgins 1999). No data is available on future changes in extent of occurrence.

Area of occupancy, as estimated from the number of 1 km² grid squares in which the species is thought to occur at the time when its population is at its most constrained, is 4000 km², and is likely to be decreasing. This estimate is considered to be of low reliability (Garnett & Crowley 2000).

Area of occupancy appears to have declined significantly since European settlement, as can be inferred from the extent of habitat loss. For example, 83% of box-ironbark habitat (the principal wintering habitat of the Swift Parrot on the mainland) has been cleared in Victoria, and 70% has been cleared in New South Wales (Environment Conservation Council 2001; Robinson & Traill 1996; Siversten 1993). White Box-Yellow Gum-Blakely's Red Gum woodland, another important habitat in New South Wales, has been reduced to less than 4% of its pre-European extent on the south-western slopes and southern tablelands of New South Wales (Saunders 2003); and in Tasmania, approximately 70% of grassy Tasmanian Blue Gum forest, the preferred foraging habitat during the breeding season, has been cleared (Swift Parrot Recovery Team 2001). No data is available on future changes in area of occupancy.

The species' distribution is not severely fragmented. Although habitat is fragmented, Swift Parrots are highly mobile and therefore the population is not fragmented (C. Tzaros June 2005, pers. comm.).

Because of their mobility, Swift Parrots have been recorded from hundreds of locations These vary depending on the flowering of eucalypts and availability of other food resources such as lerp (eg. Blakers et al. 1984; Barrett et al. 2003; C. Tzaros June 2005, pers. comm.).

No captive populations are being actively managed or propagated for re-introduction. However, Swift Parrots will breed readily in captivity, and many are housed in private collections (C. Tzaros June 2005, pers. comm.).

Two surveys of the breeding population in Tasmania have been conducted. The first was conducted during the 1987/88 breeding season, resulting in an estimated 1320 pairs being located (Brown 1989), and the second during the 1995/96 breeding season, which located an estimated 940 pairs (Swift Parrot Recovery Team 2001). A third survey, in north-western Tasmania during the 1997/98 breeding season, located approximately 1000 adults and 150 juveniles (Mallick et al. 2004).

Twenty winter surveys have been conducted on mainland Australia in the non-breeding range, in 1995 (one) and 1996-2005 inclusive (two in each year) (Kennedy 2001; Tzaros 1997; Tzaros & Davidson 1996; C. Tzaros June 2005, pers. comm.). The winter surveys comprise weekend counts in May and August, involving over 700 volunteers in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland (Kennedy 2001; C. Tzaros June 2005, pers. comm.). These surveys aim to locate and monitor feeding areas rather than estimate bird numbers (Kennedy 2001). The greatest number of Swift Parrots located in a weekend survey was during May 2001 when 1809 birds were recorded (Saunders 2002a).

Additionally, since 1986 the Nature Conservation Branch of the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment has collected records of Swift Parrot sightings from throughout Tasmania (Mallick et al. 2004).

In 2005, surveys for this species were conducted between August 5 and August 15 (Cheers & Cheers 2005). These surveys were aimed at identifying foraging habitat in the Victorian Goldfields bioregion. A total of 428 Swift Parrots were recorded with the largest number of Swift Parrots (321 parrots present) seen in the Maryborough-Dunolly area (Cheers & Cheers 2005).

During May to August 2007, surveys were again conducted in the Victorian Goldfields bioregion with 135 birds seen in the Illawarra State Forest and Illawarra Nature Conservation Reserve area and two birds seen in the Maryborough-Dunolly area (Cheers & Cheers 2007).

Mainland Swift Parrot surveys in late autumn 2014 recorded 1200 birds. At the time, there were no sigificant flowering events. In Victoria, groups were found in the south-west around Geelong and Ocean Grove, in central Victoria around  Maryborough, Muckleford and Bailieston, and in the south-east in Marlo and Nowa Nowa. Individuals were sighted in a number of other areas, and a maximum of 110 birds occurred in the Bailieston area. In NSW, birds were found between Merimbula to Port Macquarie, with 80 birds recorded in Liverpool. Seventy percent of NSW records were on the coast. In Queensland, ten birds were recorded at Cordalba State Forest, south-west of Bundaberg (BirdLife Australia 2014).

Breeding season survey data suggest that the population is at best stable, with an estimated 2000 breeding birds, or 1000 pairs (Garnett & Crowley 2000; Swift Parrot Recovery Team 2001). Two surveys of the breeding population in Tasmania have been conducted. The first during the 1987/88 breeding season, resulting in an estimated 1320 pairs being located (Brown 1989), and the second during the 1995/96 breeding season, which located an estimated 940 pairs (Swift Parrot Recovery Team 2001).

The Swift Parrot occurs as a single population, although it migrates annually from breeding grounds in Tasmania to the winter foraging grounds on the coastal plains and slope woodlands of mainland eastern Australia (Garnett & Crowley 2000; Saunders 2002b). Approximately 200 mature birds (10% of the total estimated population) are known to over-winter in the Lower Hunter Region of New South Wales (Saunders 2002b). This represents the largest concentration of Swift Parrots recorded within Spotted Gum habitats of New South Wales, and the largest record of the species in the state. Records from this region also represent the longest (17 years) and most consistent site fidelity recorded on the Australian mainland. The area is thus considered to be one of the most significant Swift Parrot sites in New South Wales (Saunders 2002b).

During a survey of the Victorian Goldfields bioregion, near Bendigo, a total of 428 Swift Parrots were recorded (Cheers & Cheers 2005). The largest number of Swift Parrots (332) were recorded in the Maryborough-Dunolly region. It is unknown what proportion of these records were of the same birds, so the population in this region cannot be estimated.

The Swift Parrot population is declining because of habitat loss (Garnett & Crowley 2000; Swift Parrot Recovery Team 2001). Based on survey data of the breeding population in Tasmania, the estimated number of breeding pairs declined by approximately 29% over the eight-year period between the 1987/88 and 1995/96 breeding seasons. Furthermore, reporting rates have declined in recent years, and sightings of large flocks are now rare (C. Tzaros June 2005, pers. comm.). No data is available on future changes in population size.

During migration through their wintering range, the abundance of Swift Parrots in NSW fluctuates markedly between regions and years. Variable patterns in use of habitat by migratory species are often in response to variation in climatic conditions and the subsequent spatial and temporal patterns of plant (food) productivity. In years of drought the numbers of Swift Parrots foraging on the central and northern coasts of NSW increase substantially, with large proportions of the populations using this region as drought refuge (Saunders & Heinsohn 2008).

Generation length is estimated at two years, but the reliability of this estimate is low due to a lack of reliable life history data (Garnett & Crowley 2000).

The Swift Parrot occurs in all box-ironbark reserves in Victoria and New South Wales, when flowering eucalypts provide suitable foraging habitat. These reserves are actively managed to conserve woodland habitat (C. Tzaros June 2005, pers. comm.). However, in some areas, such as the Lower Hunter, Swift Parrot numbers are significantly greater in areas outside reserves (Saunders 2002b).

The Swift Parrot was observed in the following Victorian reserves during surveys in 2005: Dunach Nature Conservation Reserve, Crosbie Nature Conservation Reserve, Dalyenong Nature Conservation Reserve, Havelock Nature Conservation Reserve, Timor Nature Conservation Reserve, Kingower State Forest, Maldon State Forest, Muckleford Nature Conservation Reserve, Bendigo Regional Park, Moliagul Nature Conservation Reserve, Mount Hooghly State Forest, Paddy's Ranges State Park, Sandon State Forest, Sedgwick State Forest, Tunstalls Nature Conservation Reserve, Wareek State Forest, Illawarra State Forest, Illawarra Nature Conservation reserve, and Chiltern-Pilot National Park (Cheers & Cheers 2005).

The Swift Parrot inhabits dry sclerophyll eucalypt forests and woodlands. It occasionally occurs in wet sclerophyll forests (Higgins 1999; Swift Parrot Recovery Team 2001). Saunders and Heinsohn (2008) observed that the Swift Parrot predominantly forages within habitats that have been so significantly cleared that they are classified as endangered ecological communities.

Breeding Habitat: Tasmania

The Swift Parrot breeds only in Tasmania (Higgins 1999; Swift Parrot Recovery Team 2001). Breeding occurs mainly in the south-east, and has been recorded in open eucalypt forest dominated by Messmate (Eucalyptus obliqua), Tasmanian Blue Gum and White Peppermint (E. pulchella); grassy eucalypt woodland dominated by Messmate: and Swamp Gum on dry slopes and ridges (Higgins 1999; Swift Parrot Recovery Team 2001). Shrubby Swamp Gum forest is used early in the breeding season and when flowering of Tasmanian Blue Gum is poor (Brereton 1997; Brown 1989). Most (82%, or 7000 ha) of the 8000-8500 ha of grassy Tasmanian Blue Gum forest that remains is located on private land. The other 1500 ha (18%) occurs within reserves, the majority of which occurs within Maria Island National Park. Shrubby Swamp Gum forest has also been severely depleted by land clearing in Tasmania, where approximately 97% of this forest type has been lost (Swift Parrot Recovery Plan 2001).

Tree-hollows used for nesting can be vertical or horizontal. They can be in trunks, branches or spouts of living, senescing or dead eucalypts. Trees commonly used are over-mature, often damaged by fire and with abundant hollows. Nest trees have mean diameter of greater than 0.8 m at breast height. Nests are often in Messmate, White Peppermint and Tasmanian Blue Gum, and less frequently in Black Peppermint (E. amygdalina), Manna Gum (E. viminalis) and Swamp Gum. Nest height above the ground ranges between 6 and 35 m. Nest hollows are usually located away from foraging areas, but usually less than 5 km, always within 8 km of the coast. This species breeds from near sea-level to approximately 500 m above sea level (Higgins 1999; Swift Parrot Recovery Team 2001). They rarely nest in artificial sites or urban areas (Higgins 1999).

Nesting areas in northern Tasmania are in shrubby dry Messmate forest in the Gog Range and in Badgers Hills. Post-breeding habitat is mainly wetter forests in western and north-western Tasmania where summer and autumn flowering eucalypts are abundant (Swift Parrot Recovery Team 2001). When feeding in Blue Gums, parrots usually forage in remnant patches of Blue Gum forest less than 1 ha in area (Brereton 1996), but single Blue Gums and small clusters (in the form of shelter-belts) are also used in suburban and agricultural habitats (Brereton 1997; Mallick et al. 2004).

Wintering Habitat: Mainland Australia

The Swift Parrot migrates from its Tasmanian breeding grounds to overwinter in the box-ironbark forests and woodlands of Victoria, New South Wales and southern Queensland. The principal wintering grounds are the inland slopes of the Great Dividing Range and along the eastern coastal plains (Kennedy & Overs 2001; Kennedy & Tzaros 2005; Saunders 2002b). In Victoria, approximately 38% of the total box-ironbark habitat (including habitat on private and public land) occurs within reserves (Environment Conservation Council 2001). In New South Wales, only 5% of ironbark and woodland communities are reserved (Robinson & Traill 1996).

In central Victoria, Swift Parrots prefer box-ironbark forests dominated by Yellow Gum, Red Ironbark and Grey Box. In north-eastern Victoria and on the western slopes of New South Wales, Mugga Ironbark and Grey Box are preferred. Box-ironbark occurs across a range of landforms, but drainage lines account for a disproportionately high number of Swift Parrot foraging sites. A variety of grassy woodland vegetation types are also used in these areas, including White Box woodland, Grey Box woodland and Grey Box/Yellow Gum woodland (Kennedy & Tzaros 2005; Swift Parrot Recovery Team 2001). During a survey of the Victorian Goldfields bioregion, near Bendigo, Swift Parrots were recorded most frequently in Yellow Gum (51% of observations) in Box-Ironbark Forest (72.2% of sites). In this region, Swift Parrots occurred predominately on lower and upper slopes, and less often on mid slopes, drainage lines and ridges (Cheers & Cheers 2005)

Key habitats for the species on the coast and coastal plains of New South Wales include Spotted Gum (Corymbia maculata), Swamp Mahogany (E. robusts), Red Bloodwood (Eucalyptus gummifera) and Forest Red Gum (E. tereticornis) forests (Saunders 2002b; Saunders & Heinsohn 2008). These tree species provide foraging and roosting habitat for the species. In northern New South Wales and south-eastern Queensland, Narrow-leaved Red Ironbark (E. crebra), Forest Red Gum forests and Yellow Box forest are commonly utilized (Kennedy & Tzaros 2005; Swift Parrot Recovery Team 2001). While on the western slopes Mugga Ironbark (Eucalyptus sideroxylon) and Grey Box (Eucalyptus microcarpa) woodlands are used (Saunders & Heinsohn 2008).

They actively select medium to large trees in which to forage, a trend evident in grassy Blue Gum forests in Tasmania (Brereton et al. 2004), in box-ironbark habitats in Victoria (Cheers & Cheers 2005; Kennedy & Tzaros 2005), and in box-ironbark habitats and coastal forests of New South Wales (Kennedy 2000; Kennedy & Overs 2001; Saunders 2002b). In grassy Blue Gum forests in Tasmania, diametre of forage trees was approximately 40% greater than that of other trees present at foraging sites (Brereton et al. 2004), and in box-ironbark in New South Wales, diameter of forage trees was on average 60% larger than other trees present at foraging sites (Kennedy & Overs 2001). In the Victorian Goldfields region, Swift Parrots were recorded predominately in trees with a diameter (at breast height) of between 20 and 60 cm (86.5% of observations) (Cheers & Cheers 2005). Selective exclusion of small and very large trees is likely due to their less frequent and less intense flowering when compared to medium-large trees (Brereton et al. 2004; Law et al. 2000; Wilson & Bennett 1999). Isolated Blue Gums planted as shelter-belts or as ornamentals in parks and gardens typically grow to a substantial size, making them a potentially important source of food (Brereton et al. 2004).

Swift Parrots show very high site fidelity, returning to sites that have previously been used on a cyclic basis. However, as site use depends on the availability of foraging resources the species is unlikely to be recorded at the same site every year. For example, Swift Parrots have been recorded every 2-3 years in the Hunter Employment Zone, near Cessnock, depending on flowering events that provide suitable foraging resources for the species (Saunders 2002b). The maintenance of preferred sites is important for the survival of Swift Parrot populations, as sites not used on one year may provide essential foraging habitat the next.
Box-ironbark habitat in drainage lines is thought to provide critical food resources during periods of drought or low food abundance elsewhere (Mac Nally et al. 2000). In New South Wales, coastal forest provides a refuge for Swift Parrots during drought years, e.g. during the drought year of 2002, the majority of the New South Wales population resided in coastal regions (C. Tzaros June 2005, pers comm.).

Artificially planted non-plantation Tasmanian Blue Gums scattered across north-western Tasmania can provide an important source of food when flowering of the much larger concentration of Tasmanian Blue Gums in south-eastern Tasmania is poor. During years of poor flowering of Blue Gums in south-eastern Tasmania, up to 50% of the Swift Parrot population may occur in north-west Tasmania, compared to approximately 10% in years of heavy flowering in south-eastern Tasmania. The importance of plantation Blue Gums in north-western Tasmania as a resource for Swift Parrots has yet to be determined (Mallick et al. 2004).
The Swift Parrot is listed under the Victorian Temperate Woodland Bird Community under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988. The Swift Parrot is often found together with a diverse community of other nectarivorous birds when there are abundant nectar resources available. In New South Wales, Swift Parrots are known to associate with Grey-crowned Babblers, Brown Tree-creepers and Black-chinned Honeyeaters at nectar sights. Thes three species are listed as threatened under the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (NSW) (Saunders 2002b).

In New South Wales, a number of ecological communities that provide habitat for the Swift Parrot have been listed as Endangered under the New South Wales Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995, including: White Box-Yellow Box-Blakely's Red Gum woodland on the New South Wales tablelands and western slopes; river-flat eucalypt forest on the coastal floodplains of the North Coast, Sydney Basin and South East Corner bioregions; subtropical coastal floodplain forest of the North Coast bioregion; and swamp sclerophyll forest on the coastal floodplains of the North Coast, Sydney Basin and South East Corner bioregions (DSE 2005; DEC NSW 2005).

No information is available on longevity. Breeding success is strongly correlated with the intensity and extent of flowering of Tasmanian Blue Gums. In years of poor flowering, there appears to be little breeding. First-year birds have been recorded breeding, but they usually breed later in the season, around November (Swift Parrot Recovery Team 2001).

The breeding season is from mid September to late January. Birds begin to return to Tasmania from their mainland wintering range in early August. Most of the population arrives by mid September (Higgins 1999; Swift Parrot Recovery Team 2001). Nesting starts in late September, however birds unpaired on arrival in Tasmania may not begin until November after finding mates (Brown 1989). Laying occurs during October and November. Fledging occurs from early December to late January (Higgins 1999).

Clutch size is three to five eggs (Forshaw 1981; Hutchins and Lovell 1985). Incubation is by the female only. In captivity incubation lasts approximately 25 days (Higgins 1999). Young fledge at around 6 weeks. The presence of recently fledged juveniles in late January and early February suggests that double brooding may occur. Second broods are dependent on availability of food (Higgins 1999; Swift Parrot Recovery Team 2001).

A recent study has shown that Swift Parrot nests are often located in close proximity to one another. Nest trees may be only 10-15 m apart, and can support up to four active nests each. As such, the disturbance of high density nesting areas, even on a small scale, has the potential to significantly affect a large number of birds (Webb 2005).

Breeding success is correlated with the intensity and extent of flowering of Tasmanian Blue Gums. In years of poor flowering there appears to be little or no breeding, particularly among the larger population in south-eastern Tasmania (Swift Parrot Recovery Team 2001). A group of 500 adults recorded in north-western Tasmania during the 1997/98 breeding season, when Blue Gums in north-western Tasmania flowered profusely, appeared to have produced 30-50 young (Mallick et al. 2004). Some breeding in northern Tasmania, between Launceston and Smithton, is outside the natural range of Tasmanian Blue Gum, but Blue Gums planted widely as street trees, wind breaks, in gardens and plantations are used (Swift Parrot Recovery Team 2001; Mallick et al. 2004).

The Swift Parrot is limited in extent by the availability of breeding habitat, having such specific breeding requirements (Garnett & Crowley 2000). They select large trees (mean diameter at breast height greater than 0.8 m) as nesting sites (Higgins 1999; Swift Parrot Recovery Team 2001). Their preference for breeding in dry woodlands on slopes and ridges renders them susceptible to fire, especially major wildfire when nestlings are present (Higgins 1999).

The Swift Parrot feeds mostly on nectar, mainly from eucalypts, but also eats psyllid insects and lerps, seeds and fruit. It is a mostly arboreal forager, foraging mainly in eucalypts, but occasionally coming to the ground to feed on seeds, fallen flowers, fruit and lerp, and to drink (Higgins 1999; Mallick et al. 2004; Swift Parrot Recovery Team 2001). During the breeding season, nectar from the flowers of Tasmanian Blue Gum is the principal food source. Intensity of Tasmanian Blue Gum flowering varies greatly between years and the nectar from the flowers of Swamp Gum is an important foraging resource in years when there is little Blue Gum flowering. Swamp Gum flowers in late winter and is the only nectar source available to Swift Parrots prior to the Tasmanian Blue Gum flowering in spring. Non-breeding food resources in Tasmania are mainly nectar from summer and autumn flowering eucalypts, particularly Peppermint Gum (E. nitida), Messmate, Alpine Ash (E. delegatensis), Manna Gum, Mountain Gum (E. dalrympleana) and Snow Gum (E. pauciflora) (Mallick et al. 2004; Swift Parrot Recovery Team 2001).

During the non-breeding season this species feeds extensively on nectar and lerp and other items from eucalypt foliage. Mugga Ironbark (E. sideroxylon), Red Ironbark (E. tricarpa), White Box (E. albens), Grey Box (E. macrocarpa) and Yellow Gum (E. leucoxylon) are important sources of nectar in the box-ironbark forests and woodlands of Victoria and New South Wales (Kennedy & Tzaros, 2005). Grey Box, River Red Gum (E. camaldulensis) and White Box are major sources of lerps in these areas at times. Swamp Mahogany (E. robusta), Spotted Gum (Corymbia maculata), Coastal Grey Box (Eucalyptus moluccana) and Red Bloodwood (Corymbia gummifera) are important nectar sources in coastal parts of the non-breeding range. Forest Red Gum (E. tereticornis) and Yellow Box (E. melliodora) are used in northern New South Wales and south-eastern Queensland (Saunders & Heinsohn 2008; Swift Parrot Recovery Team 2001). There are also several records of the species foraging on lerps in the foliage of Blackbutt (E. pilularis) in the Wollongong area of New South Wales. Over large parts of their box-ironbark winter range, they also consume both developed and undeveloped racemes of Golden Wattle (Acacia pycnantha) (Cheers & Cheers 2005; Kennedy & Tzaros 2005; Mac Nally & Horrocks 2000). Swift Parrots have been observed foraging on lerp from Rough-barked Angophora (Angophora floribunda) during drought conditions (Saunders & Heinsohn 2008).

As a specialist nectarivore, dependent on flowering eucalypts in both breeding and non-breeding parts of its range, Swift Parrots are vulnerable to the loss of quantity and quality of key forage tree species (Swift Parrot Recovery Team 2001).

As a large-scale migrant, it has the ability to cover vast areas of its winter range, seeking suitable flowering eucalypt habitat, but continued habitat loss and disturbance processes threaten the Swift Parrot's survival (Garnett & Crowley 2000).

Being a nectarivore, they sometimes voraciously consume nectar to a point where they become very approachable and reluctant to fly (Higgins 1999), perhaps then being vulnerable to predation from cats, especially when foraging amongst low foliage. Their agility and alertness in flight may also be affected from consuming large quantities of nectar, possibly increasing the risk of collisions with reflective or hard-to-see man-made objects when foraging in urban areas (Swift Parrot Recovery Team 2001).

The Swift Parrot is migratory. It breeds in Tasmania and moves to mainland Australia for the non-breeding season (usually arriving between February and March) Most of the population winters in Victoria and New South Wales, though parrots have been recorded in Tasmania during non-breeding season (Higgins 1999; Mallick et al. 2004; Swift Parrot Recovery Team 2001). Smaller numbers reach south-east Queensland, the Australian Capital Territory and south-east South Australia. They return to Tasmania in spring (September-October) (Higgins 1999; Swift Parrot Recovery Team 2001). The movements of this species on the mainland are poorly understood, but it is considered to be nomadic and irruptive, moving in response to food supply (Higgins 1999).

Most of the east coast population of adults and immature birds moves westwards, post-breeding, to the Central Plateau and western Tasmania as Blue Gum flowering declines and other eucalypts begin to flower elsewhere (Swift Parrot Recovery Team 2001). They are nomadic during the post-breeding period, appearing wherever there is a suitable nectar source in the west and north of the state. They begin to leave Tasmania for the mainland from mid February and most have left by the end of April (Swift Parrot Recovery Team 2001).

They leave from the north coast between Launceston and Smithton and appear to migrate through western Bass Strait during daylight hours without stopping, arriving on the mainland around Port Phillip Bay including the Mornington and Bellarine Peninsulas. However, records in East Gippsland and the far south coast of New South Wales around this time suggest that some birds may fly directly to eastern Victoria and southern New South Wales (Swift Parrot Recovery Team 2001).

A small number of records are received from the Melbourne area in March and April, but most of the birds are not detected until they reach their usual non-breeding range in the box-ironbark region or in coastal New South Wales. Upon reaching their core non-breeding range there is no known geographical pattern of movement. Dispersal within the non-breeding range during winter does occur. Winter surveys across vast areas of the mainland have recorded markedly different results for a particular site in a given year. Such within-year dispersal on the mainland is subject to local food resource availability. As a result, Swift Parrots may stay at a site for a few days or several months, and changes in food availability may necessitate large or relatively small-scale movements. A small number of records are received from the Melbourne area in late winter-early spring before the birds return to Tasmania (Swift Parrot Recovery Team 2001).

Some broad temporal changes in the relative importance of various food species are evident in the Victorian box-ironbark region, where the Swift Parrot has been most intensively studied on the mainland. Grey Box is a source generally used early in the non-breeding season. Red and Mugga Ironbark stands are used through much of the winter and Yellow Gum and White Box are of increasing importance towards the end of the winter. There is considerable overlap in the flowering times of these species however, and local conditions play a major role in dictating the timing and extent of flowering in each region (Swift Parrot Recovery Team 2001).

Exact details of breeding home-range size are unknown, but it is known that birds nest in areas separate from foraging areas, but usually within five km. During the non-breeding season, the home-range varies tremendously between individuals and between years, but involves a movement of several hundreds of kilometres from Tasmania to mainland Australia (Swift Parrot Recovery Team 2001).

The Swift Parrot is fast-moving and distinctive, and is generally conspicuous where present. It has a loud, distinctive 'clinking' call that can be heard over the engine of a slow-moving vehicle (Kennedy & Tzaros, in press).

Swift Parrots are often noisy, active and conspicuous, but can feed silently and become quite cryptic especially in the middle of the day (Kennedy & Tzaros in press). They typically allow close approach when feeding in trees, and often associate with lorikeets and honeyeaters at abundant food sources (Higgins 1999).

Habitat loss

The winter range habitat, and the Tasmanian Blue Gum Eucalyptus globulus forests within the Swift Parrot's restricted breeding distribution, continue to be fragmented and lost through land clearance for agriculture, plantation development and urban and coastal subdivision (Garnett & Crowley 2000; Swift Parrot Recovery Team 2001). For example, between 1996 and 2001, 370 ha of grassy Tasmanian Blue Gum forest was cleared from within the range of the Swift Parrot (Swift Parrot Recovery Team 2001). The persistence of Tasmanian Blue Gums, which provide nesting sites and an important source of food during the breeding season, is threatened due to clearing, a fragmented distribution (most patches are less than 1 ha) and a low rate of natural recruitment (Brereton et al. 2004; Mallick et al. 2004; Swift Parrot Recovery Team 2001). The threat to Swift Parrots is exacerbated because large Blue Gums, the preferred foraging and nesting sites of breeding parrots, are selectively harvested from forest patches (Brereton et al. 2004) and are removed from around human habitations for safety reasons (Mallick et al. 2004). The combination of clearing, poor regeneration and selective removal of large Blue Gums is thought to have substantially reduced the food resources of the Swift Parrot in Tasmania (Brereton et al. 2004).

On the mainland the Swift Parrot is threatened in areas where clearance has destroyed most habitat. In Victoria, of the 2 950 000 ha of box-ironbark habitat that was available prior to European settlement, only 490 100 ha (17%) remains, the remaining 83% having been cleared (Environmental Conservation Council 2001). Similarly, in New South Wales over 70% of box-ironbark has been lost (Robinson & Traill 1996; Sivertsen 1993). In these areas the density of large trees has been greatly reduced (Soderquist & Rowley 1995). In the remnants of these vegetation types the few remaining large trees continue to be cut-over to produce posts, poles, sleepers, sawlogs and firewood (Swift Parrot Recovery Team 2001). On the south-western slopes and southern tablelands of New South Wales, White Box-Yellow Gum-Blakely's Red Gum woodland, an important habitat of the Swift Parrot, is estimated to have been reduced to less than 4% of its pre-European extent, and in the Central Lachlan region, this habitat has been reduced to less than 1% of its pre-European extent (Saunders 2003). Competition from large nectarivores such as Red Wattlebirds, Noisy Friarbirds and Noisy Miners may be exacerbated by forest fragmentation (Ford 1993).

Availability of nest hollows in remaining habitat continues to decline due to forestry operations, particularly firewood collection (Swift Parrot Recovery Team 2001). Swift Parrots compete with the introduced Common Starling for nest hollows. This is likely to be more of an issue around forest edges, where Starlings are more likely to occur due to their preference for open country (Garnett & Crowley 2000).

Throughout the winter range of the Swift Parrot, increasing fragmentation of box-ironbark habitat has seen an increase in the abundance and range of the aggressive and invasive (but native) Noisy Miner (Manorina melanocephala). Noisy Miners could potentially be a threat to Swift Parrots as they are known to aggressively defend territories and exclude other nectarivorous birds from sources of nectar (Grey et al. 1998).

Predation

In Tasmania, predation by the introduced Sugar Glider (Petaurus breviceps) is a severe, but locally variable (Stojanovic et al. 2014). This predation risk is the principal cause of breeding failure for the Swift Parrot, and in most instances the adult female and the egg are killed. The predation equates to an annual mortality of 42% for breeding females across Tasmania. The likelihood of predation decreases with increasing forest cover

The Swift Parrot is occasionally predated by cats or raptors, but the impact of predation is low and as such predation is not a focus of recovery actions (C. Tzaros July 2005, pers. comm.). In 2005, aggression towards Swift Parrots by Red Wattlebirds was recorded on four occasions during surveys for this species in the Goldfields bioregion (Victoria), (G and B Cheers 2005).

Other threats

The Swift Parrot suffers high mortality through collisions with windows, fences and vehicles in the breeding season (Robinson & Traill 1996; Sivertson 1993; Swift Parrot Recovery Team 2001; Traill 1993). This may be particularly in areas where structures are in close proximity to areas of concentrated feeding by the species or in a direct line between areas of food resources and breeding sites (Smales 2005). An average of 19 birds are recovered annually as a result of these collisions. Most are found dead, but a few (on average four) are recovered alive and rehabilitated. This is a significant number of Swift Parrots being killed when considering the small number of the species in existence, and the increasing human developments into Swift Parrot habitat. The death of a breeding adult may also represent a loss of up to six chicks each breeding season. The problem is exacerbated in years of poor Blue Gum flowering, as birds seek nectar from introduced eucalypts in urban areas, increasing the risk of collision (Pfennigwerth 2008; Swift Parrot Recovery Team 2001).

A current, potential threat possibly affecting this species is the impact of seasonal variability on breeding success, which has been intensified by the loss of foraging habitat within the breeding range. In years of poor Blue Gum flowering there appears to be little breeding, particularly in south-eastern Tasmania (Swift Parrot Recovery Team 2001).

Large areas of foraging habitat for this species have been cleared, including 70% of grassy Blue Gum forest. Of the 8000-8500 ha of grassy Blue Gum forest remaining in Tasmania, only 18% (7000 ha) occurs within reserves, with the remainder situated on private land. Important vegetation types in Victoria are box-ironbark forest, heathy dry forest and a range of low-lying woodlands. Of this habitat, only a small amount is suitable at any given time. Flowering of box-ironbark eucalypts is greatly variable from year to year, with a stand of eucalypts rarely producing a large amount of nectar in two successive years. Birds must locate areas of abundant food within this habitat, which is spread in remnants over a total area of 3 000 000 ha (Swift Parrot Recovery Team 2001).

The introduced bumblebee Bombus terrestris, which was first recorded in Tasmania in 1992 and has since spread over much of the state (Tzaros 2003), is known to feed on the nectar of native plants, including the Tasmanian Blue Gum and the Swamp Gum Eucalyptus ovata (Hingston & McQuillan 1998), both of which are important food sources for Swift Parrots during the breeding season (Swift Parrot Recovery Team 2001). It has been suggested that competition for nectar between bumblebees and Swift Parrots, and between bumblebees and native bees (which pollinate native plants that constitute a food source for Swift Parrots), could potentially have adverse affects on Swift Parrot numbers in the event of further introductions of the bumblebee to Tasmania or the introduction of the bumblebee to mainland Australia. This issue is still being discussed (Griffiths 2004; Hingston & Mallick 2003; Sunday Tasmanian 2003; Tzaros 2003, 2004 ).

Beak and feather disease is an infectious disease affecting parrots, caused by the beak and feather disease circovirus. This common disease apparently originated in Australia. It is capable of causing very high death rates in nestlings, and the potential effects of the disease on parrot populations vary from inconsequential to devastating, depending on environmental conditions, and the general health and immunity of the parrots. The beak and feather disease virus can be introduced to endangered populations of parrots via the movements of common species carrying the disease. Lesions suggestive of the virus have been reported in the Swift Parrot (DEH, 2006).

Proposed Actions:

The following is a summary of proposed actions for the National Swift Parrot Recovery Plan 2006 - 2010 (Saunders 2005).

Action 1. Identify the extent and quality of habitat.

  • Action 1a. Identify the extent and quality of nesting and foraging habitat in Tasmania.
  • Action 1b. Identify the extent and quality of foraging habitat on private property in Victoria.
  • Action 1c. Identify priority foraging habitat within New South Wales.
  • Action 1d. Identify the extent and quality of foraging habitat within Queensland, Australian Capital Territory and South Australia.
  • Action 1e. Monitor the flowering patterns of blue gum and Swift Parrot breeding
  • Action 1f. Identify migration and non-migration movement patterns

Action 2. Manage Swift Parrot habitat at a landscape scale

  • Action 2a. Mapping of post-breeding and nesting habitat
  • Action 2b. Mapping of priority mainland habitats
  • Action 2c. Mapping of roosting habitat
  • Action 2d. Management and protection of habitat with on ground actions in relevant catchments throughout the range of the species.

Action 3. Reduce the incidence of collisions

Action 4. Population and habitat monitoring

  • Action 4a. Ongoing population monitoring
  • Action 4b. Ongoing winter volunteer surveys
  • Action 4c. Monitoring the effectiveness of management prescriptions in conserving habitat in production forests

Action 5. Community education and information

  • Action 5a. Provide advice and support to community members, Catchment Management Authorities and landowners, including Indigenous landowners
  • Action 5b. Aboriginal consultation
  • Action 5c. Swifts Across the Strait Newsletter (Saunders 2002a)

Action 6. Manage the recovery process

  • Action 6a: Management by recovery team, including Catchment Management Authority representatives
  • Action 6b: Recovery database management

Actions Undertaken:

Swift Parrot Recovery Team: The Swift Parrot Recovery Team regularly provides advice to the Department of the Environment and Water Resources on development proposals that have the potential to significantly impact on the Swift Parrot. Additionally, conservation advice is provided by the Recovery Team to all relevant state and local government departments as well as non-government and community organisations. Such advice is based on the most current research findings and known Swift Parrot records (Saunders 2005).

Bi-annual Recovery Team meetings are held at various locations throughout the range of the Swift Parrot to ensure involvement from all representatives on the Recovery Team. The Recovery team contains representatives from each state and territory in which the Swift Parrot occurs, except South Australia where Swift Parrots are recorded only on an occasional basis (Saunders 2005).

Research and Surveys: Ongoing surveys are being conducted to identify roost sites, and to identify and map foraging habitat in Tasmania and on the mainland (Garnett and Crowley 2000). Surveys are undertaken on a bi-annual basis and have steadily increased from 185 surveys in 1995 to the completion of approximately 1000 surveys in 2004 (Saunders 2005).

In addition to the vast amount of volunteer survey information that has been collected, detailed habitat research has also been conducted annually at Swift Parrot foraging sites.

In Victoria, research has mostly focused on public land which has resulted it the identification of 40 priority sites, with almost 80 per cent of all Victorian Swift Parrots being from Box-Ironbark woodlands (Kennedy and Tzaros 2005). A scientific paper on the ecological requirements of Swift Parrots in central Victoria is being published and highlights the importance of the retention of mature habitat trees in Box-Ironbark woodlands (Kennedy and Tzaros 2005).

In New South Wales, volunteer surveys together with more detailed ecological research have demonstrated that Swift Parrots utilise habitats within New South Wales annually (much more regularly than previously thought) (Saunders 2005). The ecological research in New South Wales to date has focused mostly on public land and the identification of priority sites in these areas is currently being undertaken. Surveys on private land have also commenced (Saunders 2005).

All research and volunteer surveys from the Australian Capital Territory are incorporated with the work conducted in New South Wales. The current national recovery program has revealed that habitats within the Australian Capital Territory are used on a more regular basis than previously recognised with records of Swift Parrots occurring every year for the past three years (Saunders 2005).

The current national recovery program has demonstrated that the Swift Parrot is a regular visitor to Queensland, with records of the species in six out of the last eight years (Saunders 2005).

Mapping: In Tasmania, Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping for key Swift Parrot foraging habitat in Eucalyptus globulus and E. ovata forest has been checked and remapped where necessary. Current work in central Victoria is focusing on mapping habitats on private land and incorporating this with existing public land mapping.

In New South Wales, habitat mapping is being undertaken with all vegetation maps and Swift Parrot records are being collated for coastal and inland habitats. This mapping also incorporates the vegetation communities and Swift Parrot records from the Australian Capital Territory.

Habitats within Queensland and South Australia have not been mapped (Saunders 2005).

Habitat Reservation: The recent expansion of Box-Ironbark reserves in Victoria has seen the proportion of Swift Parrot sites (as recorded between 1997-1999) in reserve systems increase from 24 per cent to 77 per cent (Kennedy and Tzaros 2005). Of the 40 priority Swift Parrot sites identified in Victorian Box-Ironbark ecosystem by the Swift Parrot Recovery Team, 77 per cent are now within reserved areas with the addition of 184 000 ha of Box-Ironbark forests and woodland to the State's National Parks and Reserve system (Saunders 2005).

Habitat Management Prescriptions: Forestry prescriptions have been specifically developed and implemented for Swift Parrots in Tasmania and Victoria. Proposed prescriptions for Swift Parrots in New South Wales are currently being reviewed and are expected to be incorporated into the 2005-2009 threatened species license (Saunders 2005).

Population Monitoring: Population monitoring efforts in Tasmania are being undertaken at over 70 sites within the breeding range of the Swift Parrot (Saunders 2005).

Community Awareness: The Recovery Team has conducted community awareness campaigns throughout the range of the Swift Parrot in regard to the impact of collisions on this species. The Recovery Team has produced an educational brochure on bird collisions prevention measures that can be implemented (Saunders 2005).

Collision Abatement

Swift Parrots are regularly killed every year due to collisions with human-made structures, such as windows, fences (especially chain-link fences) and vehicles. Pfennigwerth (2008) makes recommendations for the planning of subdivisions; the renovation of existing buildings and structures and; the planning, design and construction of new building and roads to minimise collisions that cause injury or death to the Swift Parrot. For example, in new buildings the layout; position in relation to the tree canopy; window angle and orientation; and choice of glazing, such as those that produce `visual noise' to reduce glass transparency and reflectivity, can aa be designed to minimise Swift Parrot collisions. Consideration of Swift Parrot habitat, flyways and potential collision risk should be incorporated into road design, and in the management and planting of foraging trees in urban areas. Most anti-collision techniques are simple, cost effective and can also be used in existing buildings (Pfennigwerth 2008).

The following projects have received Government funding grants for conservation and recovery work benefiting the Swift Parrot:

Nagambie Landcare Group Inc received $28 800 of funding through the Threatened Species Network Community Grants in 2002-03, part of which was for the surveying and mapping of threatened species (includinf the Swift Parrot) to determine priorities for on-ground works, including habitat protection and enhancement.

The Nature Conservation Working Group (New South Wales) received $27 300 of funding through the Threatened Species Network Community Grants in 2004-05, part of which was for the protection, enhancement and expansion of Grassy Box Woodland and securing habitat for the Swift Parrot.

Murringo and East Young Landcare Group (New South Wales) received $10 200 of funding through the Threatened Species Network Community Grants in 2000-01 for the creation of a corridor to link two important blocks of habitat for this species.

The Tree Project; Upper Spring Creek Landcare Group; Ravenswood Valley Landcare Group; and North Harcourt/Sedgwick Landcare Group (Victoria) received $30 000 of funding through the Threatened Species Network Community Grants in 2001-02, part of which was for the protection and enhancement of habitat for the Swift Parrot, as well as protection of threatened ecological communities, on-ground works including control of predators and weeds, habitat restoration and enhancement of community participation.

A Central Coast Regent Honeyeater Volunteer received $10 815 of funding through the Threatened Species Network Community Grants in 2005-06, part of which was for habitat assessment to ensure availability of long-term winter resources for the Swift Parrot.

The Australian Bush Heritage Fund (New South Wales) received $3 400 of funding through the Threatened Species Network Community Grants in 2002-03 for the development of a fire management strategy to help restore 158 ha of Grassy Whitebox Woodland on the Tarcutta Hills Reserve to provide habitat for the Swift Parrot.

The Australian Bush Heritage Fund (Victoria) received $24 750 of funding through the Threatened Species Network Community Grants in 2005-06 for the enhancement of habitat for the Swift Parrot on two protected reserves in Victoria and NSW, as well as an ongoing monitoring program.

The Trust for Nature (Victoria) received $15 000 of funding through the Threatened Species Network Community Grants in 2002-03, part of which was for the protection of a high priority cluster of Buloke Woodlands, grassland and wetland remnants to assist threatened species (such as the Swift Parrot), as well as work with landowners to protect sites, and enhance and manage remnant areas.

The Ovens, King, Black Dog Implementation Committee North East Catchment Management Authority (Victoria) received $13 000 of funding through the Threatened Species Network Community Grants in 2002-03, part of which was for the development and enhancement of vegetation links between two major remnants in order to improve overall quality of Swift Parrot habitat in the Chiltern region.

Sheep Pen Creek Land Management Group (Victoria) received $29 200 of funding through the Threatened Species Network Community Grants in 2002-03, part of which was for the implementation of a community based strategic conservation plan to identify species and communities for conservation (such as the Swift Parrot), and the identification of actions needed to conserve them and how those actions will be incorporated into whole farm and regional plans.

Euroa Environmental Group (Victoria) received $30 000 of funding through the Threatened Species Network Community Grants in 2003-04 for the protection, enhancement and expansion of remnant patches of Grassy White Box Woodland around Euroa to increase viability of this ecological community and conservation of the Swift Parrot in the long-term.

Lakes Entrance Golf Club Inc (Victoria) received $11 000 of funding through the Threatened Species Network Community Grants in 2004-05, part of which was for the maintenance and improvement of local native vegetation that supports this species.

Birds Australia (New South Wales) received $13 333 of funding through the Threatened Species Network Community Grants in 2004-05, part of which was for the restoration of woodland habitat in the Cowra region for the Swift Parrot.

Birds Australia & Liverpool Plains Land Management Committee (New South Wales) received $31 879 of funding through the Threatened Species Network Community Grants in 2000-01, part of which was for the encouragement of community and landowner involvement in bird habitat protection (including the Swift Parrot) to increase awareness of habitat importance and contribute to local conservation measures.

Friends of the Swift Parrot received $31 818 of funding through the Threatened Species Network Community Grants in 2007-08. This project will increase capacity for the local community to participate in woodland bird conservation through awareness-raising workshops and on-ground work. Schools, Indigenous groups and Traditional Owners and other land holders will form a network, with actions concentrated in four nominated Important Bird Areas in NSW.

The Castlemaine Golf Club received $1 475 of funding through the Threatened Species Network Community Grants in 2007-08. This is part one of a four stage project. The project aims to provide suitable habitat and conservation for Swift Parrots in the area.

The Tasmanian Conservation Trust received $26 114 of funding through the Threatened Species Network Community Grants in 2007-08. This project will build the capacity of the Tasmanian community to assist in the implementation of key actions from the Swift Parrot Recovery Plan 2001-2005, including the most important and urgent action of identifying and protecting nest sites.

Greta Valley Landcare Group (Victoria) received $27 273 of funding through the Threatened Species Network Community Grants in 2008-09 for the `Greta Valley Biolink for Threatened Woodland Birds' project. The project aims to protect, enhance and restore habitat that provides for the movement of regent honeyeaters, swift parrots, grey-crowned babblers and other fauna species on the cleared plains of the Greta Valley.

Saunders (2002b) recommended the following mitigation measures for the conservation of the Swift Parrot at a known important foraging site in the Lower Hunter Region:

  • Retain and protect Swift Parrot priority habitat: ie. all sights with Swift Parrot records and/or Spotted Gum/Ironbark and Forest Red Gum habitats with mature trees 60 cm DBH (diameter at breast height).
  • Retain and protect an appropriate proportion of potential Swift Gum habitat, including Spotted Gum and Forest Gum trees.
  • For every Spotted Gum or Forest Red Gum tree removed plant three more trees of the same species from local seed stock, and maintain to ensure successful establishment.
  • Ensure all windows and walls are non-reflective to minimise the number of fatal collisions by Swift Parrots.
  • Avoid windows being placed on opposite sides of a room, creating the illusion of a flight path for birds.
  • Aviod placing windows so they appear to extend the garden or sky through reflection.
  • Avoid having windows with large planes (>2m2) near the ground or greater than three metres in height.
  • Aviod using wire mesh/chain-link fencing.
  • Minimise the impact of fire throught appropriate fire management: ie. Avoid control burns during the during the budding and flowering of Spotted Gum and/or Forest Red Gum; Minimise the frequency of burns in Spotted Gum and/or Forest Red Gum habitat.
  • Minimise access to Spotted Gum and/or Forest Red Gum habitat by maintaining locked gates on all fire trails.
  • Avoid public access to Swift Parrot priority habitat (see point 1), or restrict to passive recreation (eg. walking).

See Saunders (2002b) for specific mitigation recommendations.

Brereton, R., S.A. Mallick & S.J. Kennedy (2004). Foraging preferences of Swift Parrots on Tasmanian Blue-gum: tree size, flowering frequency and flowering intensity. Emu 104: 377- 83.

Brown, P.B. (1989). The Swift Parrot Lathamus discolor White: A report on its ecology, distribution and status, including management considerations. Department of Lands, Parks and Wildlife, Tasmania.

Kennedy, S.J. & A. Overs (2001). Foraging ecology and habitat use of the Swift Parrot on the western slopes of New South Wales. Corella 25: 68-74.

Kennedy, S.J. & C.L. Tzaros (2005). Foraging ecology of the Swift Parrot Lathamus discolor in the box-ironbark forests and woodlands of Victoria. Pacific Conservation Biology.

Mallick, S., D. James, R. Brereton & S. Plowright (2004). Blue-gums Eucalyptus globulus in north-west Tasmania: an important food resource for the endangered Swift Parrot Lathamus discolor. Victorian Naturalist 121: 36-46.

Saunders, D. L. & Heinsohn, R. (2008). Winter habitat use by the endangered, migratory Swift Parrot (Lathamus discolor) in New South Wales. Emu. 108:81-89.

Smales, I. (2005). Modelled cumulative impacts on the Swift Parrot of wind farms across the species' range in south-eastern Australia. Biosis Research. Report for the Department of Environment and Heritage.

Swift Parrot Recovery Team (2001). Swift Parrot Recovery Plan. Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment, Tasmania.

Note: For several years Brown (1989) was the primary source of information on the ecology of the Swift Parrot, but much of the data therein has since been superceded by more recent studies.

The Action Plan for Australian Birds (Garnett & Crowley 2000) and the Swift Parrot Recovery Plan (Lathamus discolor) 2001-2005 (Swift Parrot Recovery Team 2001) provide guides to threat abatement and management strategies for the Swift Parrot. The Swift Parrot is also covered by the management plans of all reserves in which it occurs.

Additionally, the Department of the Environment and Water Resources has developed a Threat Abatement Plan for Beak and Feather Disease, and a Threat Abatement Plan for Predation by Feral Cats. The Threat Abatement Plan for Beak and Feather Disease aims to:

  • Ensure that Beak and Feather Disease does not increase the likelihood of extinction or escalate the threatened status of psittacine birds (parrots).
  • Minimise the chance of Beak and Feather Disease becoming a key threatening process for other psittacine species.

Minimising the swift parrot collision threat; Guidelines and recommendations for parrot-safe building design (Pfennigwerth 2008), discusses the Swift Parrots behavioural ecology, collision threats and identifiable collision `hot spots', and a variety of preventative and rehabilitative strategies to minimise collisions. Pfennigwerth (2008) recommends regulatory and educational initiatives to secure better outcomes for the Swift Parrot.

The following table lists known and perceived threats to this species. Threats are based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) threat classification version 1.1.

Threat Class Threatening Species References
Agriculture and Aquaculture:Agriculture and Aquaculture:Habitat modification and disturbance due to fencing Species threats data recorded on the SPRAT database between 1999-2002 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2012i) [Database].
Agriculture and Aquaculture:Agriculture and Aquaculture:Land clearing, habitat fragmentation and/or habitat degradation The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2000 (Garnett, S.T. & G.M. Crowley, 2000) [Cwlth Action Plan].
Commonwealth Listing Advice on Land clearance (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2001w) [Listing Advice].
Agriculture and Aquaculture:Wood and Pulp Plantations:Habitat destruction due to forestry activities Swift Parrot Recovery Plan 2001-2005 (Swift Parrot Recovery Team, 2000) [State Recovery Plan].
Biological Resource Use:Logging and Wood Harvesting:Habitat disturbance due to foresty activities Swift Parrot Recovery Plan 2001-2005 (Swift Parrot Recovery Team, 2000) [State Recovery Plan].
Biological Resource Use:Logging and Wood Harvesting:Habitat loss, modification and degradation due to firewood collection Swift Parrot Recovery Plan 2001-2005 (Swift Parrot Recovery Team, 2000) [State Recovery Plan].
Biological Resource Use:Logging and Wood Harvesting:Habitat loss, modification and degradation due to timber harvesting The Swift Parrot Lathamus discolor White: A report on its ecology, distribution and status, including management considerations (Brown, P.B., 1989) [Report].
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Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Human induced disturbance due to unspecified activities Northern Rivers Regional Biodiversity Management Plan (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2010p) [State Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or predation Felis catus (Cat, House Cat, Domestic Cat) The Swift Parrot Recovery Plan: Research Phase (Gaffney, R.F., & P.B. Brown, 1992) [State Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or predation Sturnus vulgaris (Common Starling) Swift Parrot Recovery Plan (Brereton, R., 2002) [Cwlth Action Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Predation, competition, habitat degradation and/or spread of pathogens by introduced species Northern Rivers Regional Biodiversity Management Plan (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2010p) [State Recovery Plan].
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This database is designed to provide statutory, biological and ecological information on species and ecological communities, migratory species, marine species, and species and species products subject to international trade and commercial use protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). It has been compiled from a range of sources including listing advice, recovery plans, published literature and individual experts. While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, no guarantee is given, nor responsibility taken, by the Commonwealth for its accuracy, currency or completeness. The Commonwealth does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage that may be occasioned directly or indirectly through the use of, or reliance on, the information contained in this database. The information contained in this database does not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth. This database is not intended to be a complete source of information on the matters it deals with. Individuals and organisations should consider all the available information, including that available from other sources, in deciding whether there is a need to make a referral or apply for a permit or exemption under the EPBC Act.

Citation: Department of the Environment (2014). Lathamus discolor in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Mon, 15 Sep 2014 15:54:02 +1000.