THE first of 36 orange-bellied parrots bred in captivity have been released into the wild at Western Port and Lake Connewarre on the Bellarine Peninsula.
The endangered birds are expected to join a 100-strong flock of previously released parrots.
Experts predict this autumn will see a flock of about 140 orange-bellied parrots migrate to Victoria from Tasmania, the largest number in 15 years.
The parrots are reported to have had a successful breeding season in the wild and other captive-bred birds were released in spring and late summer.
The species has gone from being at imminent risk of extinction, with only 50 birds left in the wild in 2017, to a 15-year high following a state government-supported trial involving Zoos Victoria, the federal government’s National Landcare Program and Moonlit Sanctuary, Pearcedale.