The Orange-bellied Parrot is a small ‘grass parrot’, with adults approximately 21 cm long and weighing around 45 to 50 grams. It has bright green upper body parts and a light green to bright yellow under body. As its name suggests, the bird has an orange patch on the belly. The life history and ecology of the Orange-bellied Parrot is well known. As a migratory species, its habitat varies throughout the year, with birds inhabiting salt marshes, coastal dunes, pastures, shrub lands, estuaries, islands, beaches and moorlands generally within 10 km of the coast. There are virtually no records further inland than 5 km and most are within 2 km of the coast. The hollows of mature eucalypts, such as Smithton Peppermint (Eucalyptus nitida) and Swamp Gum (Eucalyptus ovata), are used by Orange-bellied Parrots for nesting during the breeding season in Tasmania, and breeding habitat is a mosaic of moorlands and sedgelands plains dominated by Button Grass (Gymnoschoenus sphaerocephalus) and forest. The Orange-bellied Parrot feeds almost exclusively on seeds and fruits – mainly of sedges and salt-tolerant coastal salt marsh plants – and occasionally on flowers and stems. During mid-winter, when availability of seeds in saltmarsh are limited, parrots sometimes feed on weeds and introduced grasses. The species’ foraging behaviour is generally characterised by feeding on the ground or in low vegetation, usually less than 1 m above the ground. Birds usually forage in pairs or singly during the breeding season, and in small flocks of varying size in the non-breeding season. Single birds have often been recorded feeding with other species, particularly Blue-winged Parrots (Neophema chrysostoma). A female Orange-bellied Parrot lays an average of 4.5 eggs in a clutch. At the Melaleuca breeding site, a measure of nesting success in one year was 3.08 young fledged per nest (from nest-boxes). Breeding success of the Orange-bellied Parrot in the wild is not considered to be a limiting factor on the growth of the population. The generation length for Orange-bellied Parrot has been estimated to be two years. As birds breed at the end of their first year and the average life expectancy is less than 4 years, this estimate of generation length is reasonable.
Orange-bellied Parrot |
Status: Critically Endangered on the EPBC Act list
Government evidence of impact of climate change:
Expand all Close all
IUCN Red List Assessment, Neophema chrysogaster
Reasons for this recent decline are unclear; though the species has suffered from previous loss; fragmentation and degradation of winter habitat; and changes to fire regime in the breeding habitat.