Orange-bellied Parrot summer census reveals highest numbers in 15 years!

Over the past couple of months the Orange-bellied Parrots have been making their way from south-eastern mainland Australia back to Melaleuca, Tasmania for their summer breeding season.

Every year in mid-December a census of the species is undertaken. As birds arrive at the feed tables in Melaleuca, volunteers read and record their unique leg bands. On a preset date in mid-December each year, when bird arrivals come to an end, each band reading that has been recorded at least twice is counted in the census. This is to remove any misread bands, as you can imagine with lots of birds legs can get mixed up.

This year the census count of birds confirmed to have returned to Melaleuca is 74. This is the largest number of birds recorded to have returned to Melaleuca in 15 years! Just topping last years census of 70. The population has come a long way since 2016, when only 17 birds returned to Melaleuca.

The returnees this year comprise of 43 males and 31 females, with 44 wild-born and 30 bred in captivity and released at Melaleuca as juveniles in previous seasons. This has been a particularly good season for captive-bred juvenile returns, that were released last season.

The Orange-bellied Parrot Tasmania Program will be keeping an eye on breeding over the summer months and a breeding update provided at the end of the season.

Pair of Orange-bellied Parrots (Photo: Marianne Gee).

OBP monitoring in western Victoria is supported by Glenelg Hopkins CMA and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

Jess Bourchier