Thanks for these notes, David. I notice there have been no public replies, so
I assume no one disagrees with them.
I don't have anything to add, I just wanted to say that my first (and only)
sighting was just like yours, 99% sure, but not sure enough. I posted my
sighting to this list a few months ago, but got no repsonses either.
I was alerted to a pair of parrots by their odd call as they swooped low over
me in the back yard in Altona (Melbourne), then landed in plain view in a tree
20m away. They were gone before I had time to get binoculars, but I was able
to tell that they were very small, so not Rainbows or Red-rumped parrots, and
had very long pointy tails, so not Musks.
I compared their flight call to that on the BOCA CDs. It was similar but not
identical. One was "clearer" than the other, can't remember which. If it was
identical I would have reported the sighting officially. Is the "laughing"
call you describe made in flight, or while feeding?
Actually, one point regarding your observations. You say that Rainbow
Lorikeets fly straight, but I've noticed that they seem to do this odd thing
where they periodically twist like they've skipped a few beats with one wing,
which causes them to lose a bit of height suddenly.
David Adams wrote on Friday, 14 August 2009 11:42 AM:
> I'm located a few ks north of Bermagui on the Far South Coast of NSW
> and have seen small numbers of Swift Parrots for each of the past
> three years. As people are probably aware, there were huge numbers
> passing along the south coast this year. I didn't end up seeing any
> of the large groups as, now that I've got a dog, I've discovered
> exactly how much land around here is National Park. Lots.
> In any case, I've had enough sightings by now that I thought I'd put
> down what tips I've sorted out for myself for identifying Swift
> Parrots. Hopefully, people with more knowledge can correct my
> mistakes and add more pointers. Partly I'm writing because I believe
> Swift Parrots are underreported for a couple of reasons:
> * These are very unobtrusive birds. Their call doesn't carry that far
> and they tend to be canopy feeders, as far as I can tell.
> * It's always a bit intimidating to report a rare bird unless you're
> 100% sure. For example, I had some Swift Parrots land in my tree two
> years back and didn't report them to the recovery program, although I
> did report them locally. I was 99.9% sure but would have hated to get
> it wrong. (In retrospect, I'm now 100% sure about those parrots.)
> For background, the small common parrots down here are Musk and
> Rainbow Lorikeets - so my reference for comparison are those two
> parrots. (We also get Little and Purple-crowned Lorikeets here but in
> very small numbers - I've seen each only once down here.) It would be
> great if people further up the coast added comparisons with whatever
> small parrots are common up there.
> So, what I've noticed:
> * If you can get a look at the birds they are easily distinguished -
> I'm adding notes more about the 'jizz' of birds seen flying past or
> heard up in the canopy.
> * Swift Parrot calls are totally unlike Rainbow or Musk Lorikeets.
> The call is often described as "laughing", which is as good a
> description as you'll get I suppose. So, closer to a Rosella than a
> Personally, I end up with the same reaction each time. "That sounds
> like a parrot - but not one I know - what is that? Could it be a
> Swift Parrot?"
> * These birds are super easy to overlook. They are _small_ and they
> hang out in the tall blossoms. Of course, if the tree has blossoms
> low down you can see them there, but that's not always going to be
> the case.
> * The flight profile of a Swift Parrot is, around here, a bit close
> to a Rainbow Lorikeet. Size is completely useless as a field mark for
> birds flying overhead as there's nothing for comparison. These are
> the useful points I've observed (corrections welcome!)
> -- The tail of a Swift Parrot is far more tapered than that of a
> Rainbow Lorikeet.
> -- The flight pattern of a Swift Parrot group is very different to
> that of a group of Rainbows. Rainbows seem to fly fast, straight, and
> strong (relatively speaking.) Swifties seem to fly in a tight group
> with the distance between them shrinking and growing. Also, they seem
> to wheel around trees checking them out for landing in a way very
> different to Rainbows.
> -- If you hear the Swifties on the wing, they really sound nothing at
> all like Rainbows or Musk Lorikeets. I think that Rainbows and
> Muskies can sound a bit alike if you're far away from them (some of
> the call is no loner audible at a distance) but don't find a Swift
> Parrot call to be like either of the Lorikeets under any conditions.
> So, what I'm left with is flight profile compared to the other
> parrots in the area and the call.
> Suggestions and corrections most welcome!
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