In Winter, the Bellarine Peninsula is home to one of the world’s rarest and most endangered species, the Orange-bellied parrot.
The Orange-bellied Parrot (Neophema chrysogaster) is critically endangered – it is one of the rarest and most endangered species in the world. In 2011 surveys showed the lowest number ever recorded on mainland Australia – less than 50 individuals in the wild.
The Bellarine Peninsula is one of its few remaining winter homes.
The Orange-bellied Parrot breeds in Tasmania and each year takes up to two months to migrate to the mainland for winters along the coast of Victoria and Sth Australia. Juveniles appear to be unaided by adults making the crossing.
Approximately 20cm long, with an average weight of 45g, the Orange-bellied Parrot has bright grass-green plumage, greenish-yellow face, orange patch on its belly plus bright blue patch on wings and forehead. Some of its features can be hard to see.
It does not build a nest, but lays its eggs in the hollow trunks and branches of eucalypts, sometimes flying up to 5km to forage for food. Adults pairs appear to remain together for life. They feed on the ground or low shrubs.
Suitable habitats have been dramatically reducing. The spread of exotic weeds and competition from other birds, has reduced the availability of food sources. Foxes, feral and pet cats increase the threat to this rare bird.
How you can help :-
- Help protect their habitats by removing weeds and taking rubbish home
- Ensure cats wear bells on their collars and keep them indoors, particularly after dark
- Keep dogs on a leash when walking in areas known to be home to Orange-bellied parrots
If you see one, please record your location.
Remember : they are very sensitive and become easily stressed, so please do not disturb.
For further information :
Thanks to Craig Morley (banner image) and Chris Tzaros for photographs.