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Seen any Swifties out there?

Seen any Swifties out there?

By Mick Roderick, Woodland Bird Program Manager, BirdLife Australia.

Swift Parrots are almost never detected by sight by experienced observers – they hear them first! Learning the call of the Swift Parrot vastly increases your chances of finding them. Listen to their distinctive call by clicking on the sound file on this page or on the above ID guide.

The 2023 Swift Parrot mainland season is well and truly underway, though so far we have not seen many birds in NSW and very few north of Sydney. In some years, birds seem to be quite happy not migrating any further north than Victoria, but then again there are some years when they simply arrive late in NSW and its not even the end of June yet (at the time of writing).

The only Hunter Region records so far have been two birds at Pelton on 5 May and then a single bird flying over Clarence Town on 27 May. Very quiet indeed! And this is despite some very productive Swamp Mahogany blossom noted around Port Stephens and Lake Macquarie. In fact, there have been at least a dozen Regent Honeyeaters feeding on the Swamp Mahogany blossom around Morisset and along with them, big numbers of small honeyeaters.

This isn’t particularly a big surprise to me, because over the past decade or so, Swift Parrots seem to have almost abandoned big blossom events. BirdLife Australia maintains the sightings database for Swift Parrots and we have noticed a significant drop in reports of birds feeding in blossom when there are large flowering events in NSW. We will need to analyse the data and compare with previous Swift Parrots reports to see what is going on …. which is why we need your reports!

We encourage EVERYONE to report Swift Parrots to BirdLife Australia so we can monitor their population and make important observations, like these about their diet. To report a possible Swift Parrot sighting, email or you can also participate in the Swift Parrot Search that happens during the mainland autumn/winter.

There are nearly two thousand permanent monitoring sites on public land throughout south-eastern mainland Australia. Birdwatchers are asked to undertake a 5-minute/50-metre radius search at each fixed site location. The Swift Parrot Search website has a map which includes survey sites in the Hunter Region and the next survey period is from 15 July to 27 August 2023.

Happy Swifty searching everyone!

Photos © Mick Roderick
Swift Parrots …
… stunning from all angles!

Note from Editor: Did you know that Taylor has trademarked the word ‘Swifties’? hmmm …

More importantly, come to EcoNetwork’s Woodland Bird forum on 20 August and find out more about swifties (Swift Parrots) and other species – where and when to see them in and around Port Stephens. BirdLife needs your support – there are only an estimated 750 Critically Endangered Swift Parrots left in the wild — a population decline of more than 50% since a previous estimate in 2011.

Published: 1 Jul 2023