Re: Swift Parrot discussion (birding-aus)

To: Chris Tzaros <>
Subject: Re: Swift Parrot discussion (birding-aus)
From: "Clair D. Loon" <>
Date: Thu, 8 Aug 2002 19:42:29 -0700 (PDT)

Bless you Chris, and thank you so very much for your exact description.

A few questions if I may?

Does the CD have all the necessary files/forms for printing then reporting sightings? plus some easy ID photo's and sounds on it? I couldn't possibly accept the CD for free so can one make a donation in lieu.

What is the biggest present day threat to the Swift Parrot? how can they be endangered with such fine people as yourselves helping them? bless all involved with this very worthwhile project.

And finally would the planting of gum trees especially for these most beautiful of friends help? if so which variety of gum tree would you recommend we should plant.

Chris Tzaros <>wrote:

Greetings Clair, Paul and others interested in Swift Parrots,

(I guess I can answer some questions, and Debbie might like to add anything
when she's back from her fieldwork on the 19th).

Clair asked whether: "the most beautiful sound produced by the Swift Parrot
was in fact more like the sound of fine olde English bone china being gently flicked by a delicate Englishwoman's fingernail, more so then the rapid "pip .. pip .. pip".

Well Clair, I've yet to have the pleasure of being so graciously entertained by any such delicate English ladies, so I can't liken your description to any Swift Parrots call! What I can say however is that what I regard as the Swift Parrots song, a series of upward inflecting warbling notes, most often uttered from perching birds and occasionally heard in flight, is not too dissimiliar to the gritty swirling sounds of one who cleans glass windows.

In my experience, the most commonly heard call, especially of birds in flight, is a pit-pit.....pip, poor-pip. As birds burst out of trees, they give a very intense flurry of calls, pit-pit-pit-pit-pit-pit-pit-pit-pit (about 9-10 times), faster at the start and tapering into a slower whistling call of a somewhat cheeky nature (almost as if to say, I'm so
fast, you can't catch me!).

This is what we heard and I do thank you so very much.

Perching birds give a repertoire of calls. In fact, I was listening to a single adult this morning in the eucalypt outside our house, and it gave almost every call I've ever heard, including a series of soft rapid notes, that I've learnt to be alarm notes given by birds approached closely, that I most liken to the auto focus sound of my
Canon EOS5 camera!

For further written description of swift parrot calls, please consult HANZAB Vol. 4
(Parrots to Dollarbird), p. 419. Additionally, if anyone wants a free cassette or CD, we are currently duplicating some for identification purposes so send through your request with your postal details.

Paul, your question is certainly not a silly one. For those who are colour vision challenged, or even those who aren't (it's hard to pick the red underwing colour from high flying birds, or on overcast days when light contrast makes any detection of colour impossible), the best method of identification is to listen for t he call (much different to any chattering notes of any lorikeet), or if they're flying silently, the characteristic streamlined flight-silhouette. The tail of a swift parrot is longer,
narrower and more sharply pointed than any lorikeet, and the wings are very
pointed and almost Hobby-like (there is a great illustration by Nic Day on
page 139 of the Simpson & Day field guide).

On a final note, let me just say that once you're familiar with a swift parrots' flight, calls and jiz, it will never be forgotten. Melbournians, now is the time to make the most of your opportunities to catch a sighting of a swift parrot, coming now to a gum tree near you!

And don't forget, please submit all reports to Debbie Saunders (Swift Parrot Project Officer) or myself at Birds Australia, and I'll pass them on.

Happy swiftying!


Chris Tzaros
Co-ordinator, Threatened Bird Network
Birds Australia (Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union) < BR>National Office
415 Riversdale Rd
Hawthorn East, Vic., 3123
Ph: 03-9882-2622
Fax: 03-9882-2677
Website address:

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