Breeding

Swift Parakeet (Lathamus discolor)

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Swift Parrakeetby Jim Hayward

ORIGINAL HOMELAND:
Migrates between south east Australia and Tasmania.

NATURAL HABITAT:
Wooded areas wherever trees are in blossom, and infestations of insects (lerps).

STATUS IN THE WILD:
Plentiful.

STATUS IN AVICULTURE:
Established but uncommon.

LEVEL OF KEEPER'S EXPERIENCE:
Knowledgeable keeper of both lorikeets and the smaller Australian parrakeets.

HARDINESS:
Reasonably hardy.

TYPE OF ACCOMMODATION:
Protection from cutting winds is needed; a flight of at least 12ft for these active flyers; an enclosed shelter is advised; the framework can be of wood and thin (19g) mesh is sufficient.

TYPE OF DIET:
These small parrakeets have brush tongues, in the wild they live on nectar and pollen, as well as taking insects (especially psillid lerps). In the aviary their basic diet of nectar with sponge cake or bread sops should be supplemented with a daily supply of fruit (apple, pear, orange, berries, etc), greenfood (though may not be favoured), buds, and non-toxic fresh heads of flowers - as well as a seed mixture. A varied diet, with nectar the most important item.

SEXING:
Cocks are generally slightly thicker set and fractionally brighter in colour than hens, but sexing can be difficult.

SEXUAL MATURITY:
One year old birds will attempt to breed.

NESTING SEASON IN BRITAIN:
Spring and summer.

TYPE OF NEST:
A plywood nest measuring 6" square inside by 15" to 18" high is suitable.

USUAL NUMBER OF EGGS:
Four or five.

INCUBATION PERIOD:
18 to 20 days.

USUAL NUMBER OF YOUNG:
Two or three.

FLEDGING AGE:
About five and a half weeks.

USUAL NUMBER OF CLUTCHES:
One.

NESTING HABITS:
They winter on the Australian mainland and return to the cooler climes of Tasmania to nest.

SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS:
Beware of wasps and bees attracted by the nectar in late summer - stings have been known to kill Swifts.

NOISE FACTOR:
Noted as a quiet aviary bird.

AVAILABILITY:
Variable, usually scarce and highly sought.

COLOUR VARIETIES:
Colour varieties have occurred including Dilutes in which the green areas have been reduced to lime yellow, and Fallows which are a paler green with red eyes.

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