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Comparison of flight mileage for various wild parrot species

Expert Question

To get a sense of wild parrots' physical activity, how many miles, on average, do various species fly per day?

Expert Answer

What an interesting question! It actually varies pretty widely and it would take some time to pull together specifics for each species that have been recorded. Here's some general information for a few species/groups we had at hand:

  • Orange-bellied Parrots will make trips twice a year between mainland Australia and Tasmania via the Bass Strait (average distance 300km). Birds do stop on King Island about halfway, but it’s still a long haul over a few days.
  • Cockatoos, macaws and Amazons will fly tens of kilometres per day in search of food.
  • Kaka commute between the northern (New Zealand) islands in a day, crossing short bits of ocean in tens of kilometres.
  • Cape Parrots travel 10-20km daily, more if there are food shortages.
  • Some species like the Ouvéa Parakeet or Ground Parrots range in terms of hectares, only 2-3 or so.
  • Researchers have radio-tracked swift-flying Thick-billed Parrots on a non-stop flight of 100km, and Spring migration flights have covered 320km in one day.

There are altitudinal movements too – hundreds of metres up or down, in response to weather or food availability.

If you wish to do more research into specific species, here are some resources you can try: 

  • Vanished and Vanishing Parrots: Profiling Extinct and Endangered Species, by Joseph M. Forshaw and Noel F. R. Snyder, 2017
  • Parrots of the World, by Joseph M. Forshaw and Frank Knight, 2010
  • GoogleScholar for published research:

Thanks again for the terrific question!

World Parrot Trust - Staff
About World Parrot Trust - Staff

The World Parrot Trust is a leading, science-based, results-oriented parrot conservation and welfare organization.