The Swift Parrot is small parrot about 25 cm long. It is bright green with red around the bill, throat and forehead. The red on its throat is edged with yellow. Its crown is blue-purple. There are bright red patches under the wings. One of most distinctive features from a distance is its long (12 cm), thin tail, which is dark red. This distinguishes it from the similar lorikeets, with which it often flies and feeds. Can also be recognised by its flute-like chirruping or metallic “kik-kik-kik” call.
Breeds in Tasmania during spring and summer, migrating in the autumn and winter months to south-eastern Australia from Victoria and the eastern parts of South Australia to south-east Queensland. In NSW mostly occurs on the coast and south west slopes.
Habitat and ecology
- Migrates to the Australian south-east mainland between March and October.
- On the mainland they occur in areas where eucalypts are flowering profusely or where there are abundant lerp (from sap-sucking bugs) infestations.
- Favoured feed trees include winter flowering species such as Swamp Mahogany Eucalyptus robusta, Spotted Gum Corymbia maculata, Red Bloodwood C. gummifera, Mugga Ironbark E. sideroxylon, and White Box E. albens.
- Commonly used lerp infested trees include Inland Grey Box E. microcarpa, Grey Box E. moluccana and Blackbutt E. pilularis.
- Return to some foraging sites on a cyclic basis depending on food availability.
- Following winter they return to Tasmania where they breed from September to January, nesting in old trees with hollows and feeding in forests dominated by Tasmanian Blue Gum Eucalyptus globulus.