Orange-bellied Parrots return to the Bellarine

In exciting news for twitchers (bird watchers) everywhere, an Orange-bellied Parrot was sighted last month on the Bellarine Peninsula.

The critically endangered Orange-bellied Parrot is one of only three migratory parrot species in the world. They make a 1,000 kilometre round trip each year from a summer breeding site in Tasmania to their winter feeding grounds in southern Victoria and South Australia.

Corangamite Catchment Management Authority spokesperson Rob Bone said the sighting is an encouraging sign that the many years of work by the species’ National Recovery Team is starting to pay dividends.

“Orange-bellied Parrots are an iconic, but sadly now rare, species of the Corangamite region. The Corangamite CMA’s on-ground work to improve coastal habitats is helping boost the chances of survival for these critically endangered birds”.

In 2019 the Corangamite CMA worked with Parks Victoria to improve over 230 hectares of Orange-bellied Parrot habitat at eight sites across Lake Connewarre, Swan Bay, the Karaaf and Bancoora wetlands and Avalon Coastal Reserve. The on-ground works focused on managing foxes, cats, rabbits and weeds to reduce the risk of predation and improve the parrot’s preferred diet of native seeds and plants.

The next 3-year phase of the $1.8m project will focus on direct works such as fencing and grazing management, as well as support for planning, investigations and monitoring to address key threats.

This project is supported by the Corangamite CMA, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

Juvenile Orange-bellied Parrot sighted in the northern Bellarine Peninsula in April 2020. Photo by Craig Morley
Juvenile Orange-bellied Parrot sighted in the northern Bellarine Peninsula in April 2020.
Photo by Craig Morley

The Corangamite CMA will also work with a range of partners, including the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Zoos Victoria, Parks Victoria and Birdlife Australia, to support releases of captive-bred birds and tracking of wild birds.