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A new addition at Moonlit Sanctuary will provide hope for critically endangered species

There’s something to chirp about at Moonlit Sanctuary this Wednesday morning with the opening of a new Swift Parrot exhibit.

With no more than 1000 breeding pairs left in the wild, Moonlit Sanctuary in Pearcedale, Victoria is aiming to breed these critically endangered birds and educate Sanctuary visitors about their plight.

The swift decline of the population of Swift Parrots leads experts to predict their extinction in less than a decade unless something is done to save them. With no national breeding program currently in place, Moonlit Sanctuary’s avian experts will lead the march to raise the profile of Swift Parrots and start the race to increase their numbers.

With highly acclaimed success in breeding the also critically endangered Orange-bellied Parrot, the team at Moonlit will now utilize their learnings to assist the Swift Parrot.

Moonlit Sanctuary’s Avian Threatened Species Program Coordinator, Ash Herrod says, ‘We are very excited to welcome two young unrelated pairs of Swift Parrots to our Sanctuary to commence a breeding program and also to have the parrots on display for visitors to enjoy and learn more about them. They are a very special Aussie native that deserves more attention.”

The Swift Parrot breeds only in Tasmania and migrates to south-east Australia making it the longest migrating bird in the world.

It is a slim, medium-sized parrot with a streamlined shape in flight. It has angular pointed wings and a long, pointed purple-red tail. The body is a vibrant bright green colour, with a blue patch on the crown. The forehead to throat is a startling red with a red patch also at the bend of the wing.

They are noisy, active and showy birds, with very fast flight, probably reaching speeds of up to 90km per hour.

Swift Parrots fly across Bass Strait to forage on the flowering eucalypts in open box–ironbark forests of the Australian mainland. On the mainland, they are nomadic, spending weeks or months at some sites and only a few hours at others, depending on the supply of nectar. During dry years, when the eucalypts’ flowering is poor, Swift Parrots are forced to travel far and wide to find sufficient food.

Since opening in 1998, Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park has become an advocate of Australian wildlife preservation. Thanks to high-level expertise in modern zookeeping, the Sanctuary’s keepers use their experience and skills on a range of captive husbandry and management programs.