How citizen scientists are helping save the superb parrot

Saving our Species and community members across the South West Slopes of New South Wales are working together to secure a future for the charismatic threatened superb parrot.

Superb Parrot (Polytelis swainsonii)

Characterised by its bright green plumage, yellow cheeks and red neck, the superb parrot is one of Australia's most enigmatic birds. With its vibrant colours and cheeky personality, the parrot has become an icon for many communities across the South West Slopes of New South Wales.

But sadly, the ongoing loss of large, old trees that provide hollows for nesting has led to its decline and it's now estimated there are less than 5000 breeding pairs in the wild.

The superb parrot is a highly mobile species, breeding during summer and spring on the South West Slopes before departing in autumn and winter.

But where and how these parrots spend their time over autumn and winter remains a mystery, with very little known about their specific movements, flight paths and non-breeding habitat. This is a significant gap in knowledge, making it difficult to conserve the species.

To fill the gap, Saving our Species and the Australian National University have been working with community members, including landholders and residents of local towns over the last 6 years, on a monitoring program to collect crucial information that will contribute to the understanding of the superb parrots' movements, annual numbers and conservation and management.

Our dedicated community members are taking note of when birds arrive and leave their local area, where they are nesting, where and what they are eating and other important behaviour information.

Many are now collecting annual count data on their properties, towns and roadsides using a standard and simple transect walk method, while others are recording single sightings. Between 2013 and 2019, over 250 transects were completed with over 1000 single sightings recorded by our citizen scientists.

While the main seasons for sightings on the NSW South West Slopes and Southern Tablelands are spring and summer, understanding the superb parrots' movements during autumn and winter is an important part of our research.

The Saving Our Superb Parrot project is a partnership project between Landcare groups across the South West Slopes, Greening Australia, Cowra Woodland Birds and the NSW Government’s Saving our Species program.

Help save the superb parrot

If you would like to join the movement to help save the superb parrot, you can record your sightings or conduct the surveys from anywhere at any time.