Zoos Victoria

Join the Birdlife Australia mainland survey to search for wild Orange-bellied Parrots

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Get Creative and spread the message that these unique local parrots deserve to be saved from extinction

The Orange-bellied Parrot is one of only 2 migratory parrot species (the other is the Swift Parrot which is also endangered and from Tasmania).

The last known remaining wild population numbers less than 50 birds. They spend the summer breeding season enjoying the buttongrass plains at Melaleuca in South West Tasmania.

In Autumn the birds begin their annual migration across Bass Straight to their winter saltmarsh feeding areas around the coastline of South-eastern Australia.

The wild population is at at such low numbers that it is predicted they will be extinct within 5 years. There is a carefully managed captive breeding program across 10 breeding facilities (including Healesville Sanctuary) that currently has 340 captive bred parrots that are a critical insurance population.

  • They are one of only 2 migratory parrot species in the world
  • Was originally called 'Orange-breasted Parrot' as the term 'belly' was considered distasteful at the time
  • The last remaining wild population spends the summer breeding season in Melaleuca in southwest Tasmania where they are provided with nest boxes and supplementary food
  • They are fast fliers and make a rapid 'Tzeet' sound that has a 'buzzy' quality to it
  • Females will usually lay 4-5 eggs and young will fledge (leave the nest) late summer.
  • Birds migrate to the mainland in Autumn, stopping over on King Island, before heading to scattered sites along the Southeastern Australia coastline

  • Being a migratory bird there are many threats for this critically endangered parrot.
  • Historically the main threat has been habitat loss in key coastal areas on the mainland. This has affected winter food sources and availability of safe roosting trees.
  • In their breeding habitat the lack of regular burning of buttongrass plains has made it difficult for birds to get to their favourite food plants close to the ground. Competition for nest sites, predation by birds of prey and tiger snakes, and a recent outbreak of Beak and Feather Disease have also been factors.
  • Annual migration poses threats such as extreme weather, predatory birds, exhaustion, and many other hazards
  • With numbers so low any threat can have a big impact

At our Zoos...

  • Healesville Sanctuary

In the Wild...

  • Melaleuca
  • Werribee Treatment Plant
  • Swan Island