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Australian king parrot

Alisterus scapularis

Photo: Australian king parrot
Weights and measures
Length 44 cm
State of endangerment
Animal description
The Australian King Parrot (Alisterus scapularis) is a striking and magnificent bird species native to the eastern coastlines and ranges of Australia. Belonging to the parrot family Psittaculidae, this bird is easily recognized by its vibrant and colorful plumage, making it a favorite among bird enthusiasts and a splendid sight in its natural habitat.

Adult males exhibit a particularly vivid coloration, with a deep scarlet red head, breast, and lower undersides, contrasting sharply with their emerald green back, wings, and tail. A blue tint on their rump and the edges of their tail feathers adds to their captivating appearance. Their beaks are a pale grey, and they have a striking white eye ring, which adds to their distinguished look. Females and juveniles, however, present a more subdued palette; they primarily exhibit green plumage, with females featuring a red belly and undertail coverts, and juveniles showing a mix of green and red with an orange beak that darkens with age.

The Australian King Parrot typically measures between 40 to 43 centimeters in length, making it one of the larger species within its family. Its size and robust build are complemented by a strong, curved beak designed for cracking open nuts and seeds, which constitute a significant part of its diet, along with fruits, berries, and the occasional insect.

These parrots are monogamous and exhibit strong pair bonds, often seen foraging and flying in pairs or family groups. Their breeding season varies depending on their geographical location but generally occurs in spring and summer. They nest in hollows of large trees, where the female lays between 3 to 5 eggs. The female solely incubates the eggs over a period of about 20 days, while the male is responsible for feeding her during this time.

Australian King Parrots are forest dwellers, preferring dense rainforests, woodland areas, and well-vegetated parks and gardens. They are also frequently observed in mountainous regions and along the edges of clearings. Although not migratory, they may move to lower altitudes during the winter months in search of food.

Their vocalizations consist of a range of whistles and calls, which can vary from soft and melodious to a more piercing sound when alarmed or in flight. Despite their beauty and charisma, Australian King Parrots are shy and reserved in the wild, often retreating to the canopy's safety when approached.

Conservation-wise, the Australian King Parrot is currently listed as of least concern, benefiting from a relatively stable population and extensive, albeit fragmented, habitat range. However, they are not immune to threats, with habitat loss and degradation posing significant challenges. Additionally, they are popular in the pet trade, which can impact wild populations if not managed sustainably.

In summary, the Australian King Parrot is a captivating and colorful bird species, embodying the vibrant natural beauty of Australia's avian life. Its presence enhances the biodiversity of its native forests, making it a cherished member of its ecosystem and a splendid example of the country's unique wildlife.
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