Orange-Bellied Parrot Fact File
The orange-bellied parrot is a small bird with most of their body covered in green feathers. The feathers across the back are light green with those on the wing being an emerald green. A band of blue feathers run along the bend on the wing. On the face and breast they are yellowish green. A small blue band runs between the eyes.
Their name comes from a circle of orange feathers on the lower belly running down to the vent.
Females can be distinguished from males as they are duller with a smaller blue patch and a reduced patch of orange on their belly.
The beak is a grayish-black and is small with a slight curve. They have a dark brown eye and grayish-brown legs.
An average orange-bellied parrot will measure 20-22cm (7.9-8.7in) long. Their weight is between 40 and 45g (1.4-1.6oz).
The orange-bellied parrot is a herbivore. They feed on seeds, fruits, flowers, berries and sedges.
Feeding occurs at ground level or on low shrubs. While feeding their green coloration blends in with the grasses on the ground or with the shrubs on which they are feeding.
At their breeding site in Melaleuca the orange-bellied parrots are provided supplementary bird feed to ensure they have good body condition before they begin their migration.
Average 10 years
Record 11.7 years
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Australia is the native home of the orange-bellied parrot. Here they make their home in two areas depending on the time of year. Spring and Summer is spent in Tasmania where they breed and they then fly to the mainland for Winter and Autumn. Here they live along the coast of Victoria and South Australia.
Orange-bellied parrots are restricted to coastal areas. Here they can be found in salt marshes, healthlands and scrublands. They will also make use of human made environments such as golf courses.
Breeding takes place from October to March with the entire population of these birds flying to Melaleuca in Tasmania to breed. Pairs remain together for life.
Nesting begins in November. Naturally they use tree hollows to create this nest. Due to the low number of available hollows at the breeding sites many pairs now nest in artificial nest boxes which have been placed there by conservationists. Females clean the nest hollow before egg laying.
The number of eggs which the females lay varies between 1 and 6. These are laid two days apart from one another. The female will take sole responsibility for the incubation of the eggs. This lasts 21 days.
After hatching the female will not leave the nest for another 10 days while she cares for the chicks. She will be fed by the male during this period.
Fledging occurs at four to five weeks old. They will continue to be fed by the parents till they leave on their migration.
Juvenile typically leave Melaleuca (the breeding site) to begin the migration later than the adults.
Orange-bellied parrots undertake a migration every year. They will fly from the south coast of the Australian mainland to Tasmania in spring to breed before returning at the start of autumn. During the migration they will island hop across bass strait spending time feeding on islands within the strait. Most of their travel is believed to take place at night.
They make a range of vocalizations. These include a buzzing ‘zit-zit-zit’ call used when alarmed. A single note ‘tseet' call is used in flight when they dip.
Predators and Threats
They face predation from introduced predators such as cats and the red fox.
Orange bellied parrots are critically endangered and the population has numbered less than 100 individuals for over much of recent history.
Captive breeding efforts are ensuring their survival through releases of captive bred birds each year. One of the main threats to them is the migration to the breeding sites. Another conservation program has seen birds captured on the mainland where they are held in large aviaries until the rest of the birds arrive at the breeding grounds and they are released to join the flock.
Their small population size may lead to inbreeding issues within the population.
Recently an outbreak of beak and feather disease at the nesting site has presented another threat.
Humans impact their population through habitat destruction, the spread of weeds and death through collisions with structures.
Their breeding site is now protected within a World Heritage Area.
They are one of only three migratory parrot species in the world.
Orange-bellied parrots are also known as orange-bellied parakeets.
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Copyright. The Animal Facts.
Morcombe, M., 2003. Field Guide To Australian Birds. Archerfield, Qld.: Steve Parish Pub.
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Dpipwe.tas.gov.au. 2020. About Orange-Bellied Parrots | Department Of Primary Industries, Parks, Water And Environment, Tasmania. [online] Available at: <https://dpipwe.tas.gov.au/conservation/threatened-species-and-communities/lists-of-threatened-species/threatened-species-vertebrates/orange-bellied-parrot/about-orange-bellied-parrots> [Accessed 3 October 2020].
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Victoria State Government Department of Enviornemnt, Land, Water and Planning. 2020. Orange-Bellied Parrot. [online] Available at: <https://www.environment.vic.gov.au/conserving-threatened-species/threatened-species/orange-bellied-parrot> [Accessed 3 October 2020].
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Birdlife.org.au. 2020. Orange-Bellied Parrot | Birdlife Australia. [online] Available at: <https://www.birdlife.org.au/bird-profile/orange-bellied-parrot> [Accessed 3 October 2020].
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