A Magical Encounter With Orange-bellied Parrots

Melaleuca is by far the easiest place to see these critically endangered little parrots.  Orange-bellied Parrots (OBPs) are still fewer than 50 in the wild.  Last year, some captive bred OBPs were released at Melaleuca in hopes that they would breed and they did!  We are now eagerly awaiting more news when the OBPs start returning to Melaueca in the spring.  For more updates, follow Save the Orange-bellied Parrot on Facebook.

When you take the Par Avion trip, most people will take off on a nature hike with their pilot/guide.  We wanted to spend as much time as possible with the OBPs so our guide showed us to the path leading to the bird hide.

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It’s a pretty small hide so we had to take turns going inside. IMG_7388

I gasped in delight as some OBPs were already there feeding alongside some Beautiful Firetails.  The two species seemed to get along just fine either feeding side by side or taking turns.IMG_7234 IMG_7248

While we were waiting our turn to go in the hide, we stood on a small hill behind the hide and watched the OBPs and some other birds waiting their turn for the food.IMG_7262a IMG_7277 IMG_7281

One of this year’s young.  This little guy and his siblings will make a long flight in a few weeks to Victoria even though they are only a few months old!  They just seemed so fragile to me, I can’t believe they actually survive such a long flight over water!IMG_7282a IMG_7288 IMG_7285a

Was he waving at the Beautiful Firetail?IMG_7245a IMG_7273a

All the birds are banded, you can see the orange leg ring on this one.  The rings allow researchers to keep track of them here and on the mainland.IMG_7292a IMG_7298a

Orange-bellied Parrot (Neophema chrysogaster)

Orange-bellied Parrot (Neophema chrysogaster)

Orange-bellied Parrots eating

Orange-bellied Parrots eating

You can tell the adults as their orange belly is much brighter.  The youngsters won’t have the colours until their first moult.

IMG_7315a IMG_7318a IMG_7321 IMG_7326a IMG_7373 IMG_7376a IMG_7382a IMG_7384a IMG_7390 IMG_7392We made two visits to the OBP hide, before and after lunch.  We did have to be polite and let everyone in the hide but fortunately only about 7 or 8 people were really spending a lot of time with these birds so we had plenty of time.  When we left, we felt so privileged to have met these delicate but brave little birds.  In a couple months, they will start returning to Melaleuca, I hope they all have a safe journey and the 2014 breeding season is even more successful!