Australian Bird of the Year

Your 2023 Bird of the Year is...

Friday, 6 October 2023

  • Estimated reading time 4 minutes

Threatened species triumph in the 2023 Bird of the Year poll.

With a grand total of 11,171 votes, the Critically Endangered Swift Parrot is the winner of the 2023 BirdLife Australia X Guardian Australia Bird of the Year competition – the first time Swifties have taken out the title.

With less than 500 votes between them, the Tawny Frogmouth once again finished in second place despite leading for much of the competition. With 10,729 votes, it’s the Tawny’s third time in a row as runner-up! And in third place, it’s the Endangered Gang-gang Cockatoo with 7,190 votes.

Thanks for joining in the fun in the 2023 Bird of the Year poll! Read on to learn more about your top three Australian birds.

Your 2023 Bird of the Year, the Swift Parrot 

After a nail-biting finish, the Swift Parrot surged ahead to take the crown following a successful online campaign by conservationists to draw attention to its plight.

To the left of the frame, a Critically Endangered Swift Parrot iwith colourful plumage is perched in a tree branch, facing to the right.
The Critically Endangered Swift Parrot has been crowned the 2023 Bird of the Year. Photo by Jasmine Boehm.

The Critically Endangered Swift Parrot is one of only three species of migratory parrots in the world.

Twice a year, these remarkable birds brave crossing one of the world’s most dangerous bodies of water – Bass Strait – as they migrate from their Tasmanian breeding grounds to the mainland to feed on flowering gums and lerp in south-eastern Australia. With fewer than 750 birds left in the wild, it’s a win for threatened species everywhere.

But it’s also an important reminder of what we stand to lose. Sadly, Swifties are rushing towards extinction – threatened by habitat destruction and predation by introduced Sugar Gliders in Tasmania. Still, logging of their forest habitat continues in NSW and Tasmania – and experts predict that fewer than 100 birds will remain by 2031 if their current rate of decline continues.

“We are watching extinction in real time for the Swift Parrot.”

‒Samantha Vine, BirdLife Australia’s Head of Conservation and Science

Alongside the Regent Honeyeater, the Swift Parrot has long been the face of woodland bird conservation in south-eastern Australia – and for decades, BirdLife Australia has been working closely with this Critically Endangered species to help their population recover. We’re dedicated to preventing their extinction – campaigning against logging in Swift Parrot habitat on both sides of Bass Strait, tracking their mainland movements, filling knowledge gaps critical to their conservation and more.

Keep championing the Swift Parrot by signing our open letter to improve their National Recovery Plan.

Everyone’s favourite runner-up, the Tawny Frogmouth

Dubbed the world’s most Instagrammable bird, the Tawny Frogmouth is a master of disguise and is well-known for its expressive face and ability to mimic a tree branch with startling accuracy.

In the middle of the frame, an adult Tawny Frogmouth (right) and its chick (left) are perched on a eucalypt branch and staring into the camera.
A Tawny Frogmouth and its chick by Jagadeessh Herur

To camouflage themselves during the day, the Tawny Frogmouth perches in a tree and strikes a stiff and stock-still pose, stretching its body and head upwards to resemble a broken branch. With their silvery-grey and streaky plumage – similar in colour and texture to tree bark – they usually go unnoticed by passersby.

While they’re nocturnal and often confused for owls, Tawnies are actually more closely related to nightjars and hummingbirds! They’re found throughout Australia, including in suburban parks and gardens, and their varied diet includes insects, rodents, reptiles and frogs.

While Tawnies are common and widespread across the country, they face growing threats like habitat clearing and poisoning from rodenticides.

Bronze for the Gang-gang Gang 

One of Australia’s 56 species of parrots, the much-loved Gang-gang Cockatoo is the bird emblem of the ACT and is well-known for its distinctive creaky call. Males are unmistakeable with their wispy red crests and faces, while both sexes have slate grey bodies and barred plumage.

A close-up of a young male (left) Gang-gang Cockatoo with a red crest and a female (right) against a blotched green background. Both have their backs to us, showing their grey scalloped plumage.
A pair of Gang-gang Cockatoos by David Simon

While they’re found across much of south-eastern Australia, these small and charismatic cockies are in trouble. Their population has declined by 70% in the last few decades alone – and Gang-gangs were recently uplisted to nationally Endangered after the Black Summer bushfires burnt 30% of their habitat.

In the summer months, Gang-gangs move to higher elevations to breed and nest in tree hollows in tall mountain forests and woodlands. They flock to warmer lowland areas and suburban gardens in winter, where they feast on the seeds of native and introduced trees and shrubs, especially eucalypts, wattles and hawthorn berries.

Gang-gangs are the least studied of Australia’s cockatoo species, which is why participants in our free, online Gang-gang Cockatoo Edu-Action course learn how to collect important data on Gang-gangs across their range – while developing their own Action Plan to help their local Gang-gang population recover.


If you loved the Bird of the Year poll, we think you’ll love our Aussie Bird Count! Join in the fun from 16‒22 October by registering as a counter today.