Swift Parrots in Aranda & in trouble

Subject: Swift Parrots in Aranda & in trouble
From: Debbie Saunders <>
Date: Fri, 26 Sep 2008 16:16:43 +1000
They're back! I had 4 Swift Parrots fly through my backyard in Aranda ACT this morning (7am)!!

I have been waiting patiently all winter/spring for them to turn up in the flowering Mugga Ironbarks which line the whole length of Mirning Cres. I found them foraging in the Mugga Ironbarks, being harassed by Red Wattlebirds, but not bothered by Noisy Friarbirds which at one point were almost sharing nectar from the same flowers! They were calling loudly and flying around a lot, but eventually (after an hour or so) sat loafing in the tree tops. I wasn't sure if there was another small flock as well, but can confirm at least 4 of them. They were calling so loudly that I suspect there may be more of the around.

I just hope that the Peregrine Falcon I saw later in the day from the same spot doesn't find them! However even if the peregrine doesn't get them, they are in for a pretty tough ride when they get back to Tasmania.

As I write, there are large numbers of Swift Parrots preparing to breed in Tasmania within their nesting habitat in the Wielangta Forest on the east coast. However, this old growth nesting habitat is about to be logged, most likely clearfelled.....within the next few weeks. Despite current state and federal legislation that is supposed to protect this endangered bird, and an ongoing recovery program for the species, the Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement still allows essential breeding habitat in key breeding areas to be cleared and converted to plantation! A letter from Birds Australia and the National Swift Parrot Recovery Team to relevant politicians sums it up:

"We are of the opinion that current logging practices within the Swift Parrot breeding range is unsustainable and is likely to have a significant long-term impact on this endangered species.

The imminent logging of mature Swift Parrot nesting habitat within Tasmania's timber production forests, where large proportions of the population concentrate to breed, needs to be addressed urgently. This includes, but is not limited to, the Wielangta and the Southern Forests of Tasmania, where impending logging operations are likely to result in both direct (death of parrots in nests) and indirect impacts (loss of hollow-bearing and associated forage trees) on the Swift Parrot population .

The single largest threat to the existence of the Swift Parrot in the wild is the logging of nesting habitat in Tasmanian forests.

We therefore recommend the immediate implementation of a 5 year moratorium on logging within Swift Parrot nesting habitat.

There has been a growing wealth of information on this species and its habitats through the National Recovery Program (Draft National Recovery Program for the Swift Parrot 2006-2010), including the dynamic and concentrated nature of habitat use by this species (e.g. DPIW (2008) Swift Parrot Breeding Season Survey Report). However, our current knowledge is like the 'tip of the iceberg' and further work is required for a more complete understanding of this species' breeding habitat requirements.

Therefore, within the 5 year moratorium period, an annual Swift Parrot population monitoring and breeding program needs to be implemented (in accordance with the National Swift Parrot Recovery Plan). This, together with existing information, would enable the identification of key breeding areas, and provide a sound basis for improved strategic planning in regard to both threatened species and forestry management.

Once key Swift Parrot breeding areas are identified, notice needs to be given under the Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement that these areas will be protected in perpetuity.

The endangered Swift Parrot population simply can not sustain current levels of breeding habitat loss and is likely to become extinct unless the above actions are implemented urgently."

PLEASE HELP: If birders (including those on birding-aus and cog chatlines) want to continue to see Swift Parrots in the wild, they can help make a difference by taking just a couple of minutes to send a version of the above letter (with your own twist/interest would be good) to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd (, Minister Peter Garrett ( and Tasmanian Premier David Bartlett (

Thanks for making a difference, and enjoy the birds! (sorry for the long email - can someone please forward this to Birding Aus too)

Debbie Saunders

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