Orange-bellied Parrot Observations

Subject: Orange-bellied Parrot Observations
Date: Thu, 8 Apr 2004 11:47:52 +1000

Fellow birders,

Following the sighting of OBPs in NSW last year the OBP Recovery Team is keen to encourage wider searches of coastal habitats throughout the eastern states (including northern NSW & southern QLD). OBPs may be in your patch any time from now till early November and we would appreciate your help to track down the movements of this elusive species.

Typical winter habitat is saltmarsh and strandline/foredune vegetation communities either on coastlines or coastal lagoons. Spits and islands are favoured but they will turn up anywhere within these coastal regions. OBPs are tending to be less fussy of late and can be found foraging in weedy areas associated with these coastal habitats or even in totally modified landscapes such as pastures, seed crops and golf courses. A key pointer to possible OBP sites is the presence of other ground seed-eating birds such as other neophemas, red-rumped parrots, gold finch and green finch. OBPs have even been observed feeding alongside Crimson Rosellas and Galahs, so it's worth having a closer look at any birds foraging on the ground.

If you find an OBP it is critically important to check for leg bands. More than half the population has colour bands that identify individuals. One band is a powder coated stainless-steel band that signifies the cohort year. These bands are generally placed on the left leg for wild birds and on the right leg for released birds. The other leg has either a bi-coloured plastic band (ie-dark blue/pale pink) or a colour anodised aluminium band with a repeated letter (ie-green A) which identifies the individual in combination with the cohort year band. While there are very few plastic banded birds left it is important to carefully describe the colour shade as there were many different combinations (hence the reason for using the lettered bands). It is not easy to determine the complete band details with binoculars. A 25x or greater spotting scope and some patience is the preferred method of seeing bands. Frustratingly, even though many people saw the bird in Sydney last year, no one managed to record the letter and therefore we can't be sure if it returned to the breeding grounds.

A word of caution on identification - juvenile OBPs are hard to pick even for the experienced and other neophemas can look like OBPs for the novice. Always make careful notes of your sightings and if possible take a picture. Before announcing any sighting of OBPs to the birding world, please have your sighting confirmed by one of the contacts listed below. This is important not only to save the embarrassment of miss-identifications but more importantly to ensure that any follow up work/twitching does not disturb the birds or impact on the site.

(Bob Green)

(Jon Starks)

Cheers, Mark.

Mark Holdsworth
Threatened Fauna

Orange-bellied Parrot Recovery Program

Threatened Species Unit
Nature Conservation Branch
Dept. Primary Industries Water and Environment

phone Aus 03 62 336033
fax Aus 03 62 333477

GPO Box 44
Tasmania 7001
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