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Habitat Ecology Information

What’s Lurking In Your Backyard? – #10 King Parrot

This series looks at the variety of fauna that may be found in the suburban backyard or local reserve and the diversity may be surprising to some people. The obvious fauna are the vast array of birds that are readily seen by day and some by night, but there are numerous species that are nocturnal. Some of these nocturnal species people are familiar with as they tramp across the roof at night with what sounds like hobnail boots on, or they hear fighting in the backyard over food and territory. Others are cryptic and may only be seen infrequently when they enter the house for warmth and shelter. Each week I will highlight a different species that may be found in and around Melbourne’s backyards, parks and reserves, some may be familiar others less so.

#10 King Parrot
(Alisterus scapularis)

By far the most attractive of the parrots in the greater Melbourne area for me is the King Parrot. The male King Parrot is very distinctive with its bright red head and breast and green body. It is the only parrot species that has a completely red head. The female of the species is almost all green with the exception of its red belly. It is can be confused with the Crimson Rosella, which also has a red head and body but blue/black wings (see: What’s Lurking In Your Backyard? – #9 Crimson Rosella).

The King Parrot can be found along the east coast of Australia from northern Queensland to around western Victorian coast and extending into the ranges of the Great Divide. It prefers the wetter forests but as with many species it is expanding its range as the treed areas of the suburbs evolve and more food becomes available, especially in the eastern suburbs.

The King Parrot is usually found in pairs or small family groups and is mainly sedentary in nature. They feed on variety of fruits and seeds from a variety of trees including eucalypts and acacia’s and with the increase of fruit trees in the urban areas they are encroaching into these areas. In some areas they may become quite tame and feed from the hand or from feed tables set up for feeding birds. This should be discouraged were possible as it can lead to health problems for the birds and potentially for humans.

As with other parrot species they are hollow nested and utilise hollows in trees that are well of the ground were they lay their eggs in a bed of rotting or decayed wood matter.

© Habitat Ecology 2012