Orange-bellied parrots breed in Tasmania and migrate to southern Victoria and South Australia between March and September each year to feed mostly on saltmarsh plant seeds. Due to this specialised diet their ‘winter’ range is limited to saltmarsh areas. More than 90% of Victorian saltmarshes have been ‘reclaimed’ for agriculture and other purposes over the past 150 years.
Although noted as “plentiful” on marshy ground in 1848, winter counts in the 1970s raised concerns that the OBP was in serious decline and the Orange-bellied Parrot Recovery Team was formed in 1983. Despite the efforts of the Team an all-time-low breeding season was recorded in 2010 with the number of adult birds thought to be no more than 50 at that time. At the time of writing, at least 3 OBPs have been recorded on the western shores of Port Phillip during May 2012.