It’s rare to find a swift parrot in central Victoria’s forests these days.
In fact it is so rare the federal government has bumped the native bird from “endangered” to “critically endangered”.
It is one of 49 species added to the government’s threatened species list earlier this month.
Other local species included the “endangered” Eltham copper butterfly found around Castlemaine and a “critically endangered” fish called flathead gelaxias, which swims throughout the Murray Darling river system.
Also new to the list is the “vulnerable” greater glider, a sugar glider-like marsupial found in forests near Daylesford and Trentham.
The swift parrot breeds in Tasmania and spends its winters in box-ironbark forests in Victoria and New South Wales.
The environment department’s threatened species scientific committee recommended a recovery plan be updated after researchers discovered sugar gliders were killing swift parrots.
The committee cited research by the Australian National University and the Tasmanian government, which found sugar gliders are eating eggs and nesting mothers in swift parrot breeding grounds.
It is thought sugar gliders were introduced to Tasmania from the mainland.
Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority’s Janice Mentiplay-Smith said swift parrots were a really beautiful bird.
“Imagine what our landscape would be like if we lost birds like this?” she said.
She said “swifties” suffered because they fed exclusively on nectar found mostly in box-ironbark forests.
“I guess the main thing is the loss of ironbark habitat. You can take a look at maps of where the forests used to be in Victoria and see they are just a drop in the ocean of what they used to be,” she said.
Sadly, there were few options for central Victorians to pitch in and help the swift parrot.
“Because we don’t need to build nesting boxes for them in Victoria or New South Wales the public is one step removed from swift parrots. There is very little tangible work they can do to help save them,” Mrs Mentiplay-Smith said.
“There are annual swift parrot surveys that volunteers can take part in and land owners can plant flowering eucalypti … but they take time to grow.”