The famous Tasmanian swift parrot has now been listed from endangered to critically endangered by the Australian Government. Unfortunately, the research team from The Australian National University (ANU) warns that the iconic parrot could be gone forever within 16 years.

The researchers believe that the population of this bird species will halve every four years, plummeting down to 94.7 percent over 16 years. Moreover, the Tasmanian swift parrot’s extinction could have implications on several groups, including the public, environmentalists, and foresters.

“Swift parrots are major pollinators of blue and black gum trees which are crucial to the Tasmanian environment and economy including forestry and tourism,” adds Rob Heinsohn, a professor from the ANU Fenner School of Environment and Society.


These are swift parrot chicks. Image: Dejan Stojanovic

According to Dejan Stojanovic, also from the ANU Fenner School of Environment and Society, this reclassification to critically endangered status can help solve the problem by diverting the attention to it, which would lead to consequently better protection of the birds.

“The reclassification is a major milestone for swift parrots and highlights the importance of finding a solution to the extreme effects of sugar glider predation, and of protecting their habitat,” says Stojanovic. “It confirms that the severe predation on swift parrots by sugar gliders is critical to whether their population survives.

Initially, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature raised the threat status of the swift parrots in 2015 after they got the report from researchers at ANU. Now, experts are grateful that the Australian Government finally began to exert effort to save the swift parrots.

Stojanovic says that more studies are still needed, however, to gather more information into this problem. The researcher says that the team is now planning to dig deeper into the factors that may save the birds from their fate.

The Tasmanian swift parrot measures about 230 to 250 millimetres in length. It is a migratory bird, tinged with green with red on the forehead, throat and chin, which only breeds in Tasmania and on mainland Australia during the winter.