Australian King Parrot






Australian King Parrots (Alisterus scapularis) are found along the east coast and ranges of Australia, ranging from Cooktown in Queensland through to Port Campbell in Victoria.


The two subspecies of the Australian King Parrot (often refered to Northern and Southern) are similar except in size. The Northern parrot being slightly  smaller and richer in colour particularly the wing patch.


The Northern sub-species (Alisterus scapularis minor)  have two populations. One around the Mackay hinterland and another from just north of Townsville to about halfway up to the Cape (mainly semi coastal but also found on the Atherton Tablelands) .

The nominate population extends from Central Qld down to south eastern Victoria. Again in semi coastal but also found inland as far as ACT.


Australian King Parrots, are brilliantly coloured, large birds. They are conspicuous and never fail to impress, irrespective of how familiar they may be to the observer.


The adult male is a particularly striking bird having a brilliant scarlet head, neck, breast and abdomen, dark green mantle, back and wings, longitudinal turquoise-green stripe on the wing coverts, dark blue lower back and rump, black tail feathers and a red upper mandible, tipped black. The adult female has a dark green head, wings and back, dull green throat and upper breast tinged red, scarlet lower breast and abdomen, faint pale green wing stripe, blue lower back and rump, tinged green and a dark brown mandible.


The photo shows a pair of Southern King Parrots.


While they are large parrots, Australian King Parrots are known to be among the more quiet parrot species, and tend to not scream as much as other large hookbills like Macaws. Instead, they tend to pleasantly vocalize at an audible but very agreeable level, and will entertain their owners with their whistles and chatter. When properly socialized and motivated, Australian King Parrots can learn to talk, but they are not especially noted for remarkable speaking ability.


Although the vast majority of Australian King Parrots prefer minimal handling, they can be hand tamed by patient owners and are reported to be among the most gentle large parrots in the world.


King parrots can be rather clumsy fliers and it is important to give them ample clear flying space in the aviary. A suspended aviary 3-3.5m x 1.2x1.2 gives a pair of Kings ample room to fly from perch to perch.


King Parrots (in the wild)  feed on seeds, fruit, berries, nuts, nectar, blossoms, leaf buds, and insects and their larvae. Seeds of eucalypts, angophoras and acacias make up a major proportion of the diet, and these are procured mostly in the trees and shrubs.


The breeding season lasts from September or possibly late August, to January. In captivity King Parrots will accept either a nesting box or log. A suitable box should be approximately 45cm x45cm x 200cm and suspended vertically. Logs should be a little taller and have a similar internal diameter. The preferred nesting material is coarse wood shavings mixed with peat moss.


3-5 white rounded eggs (33mm x 26mm). Incubation period: 19-20 days. The young usually fledge at around 35 days.


Article submitted by John McDougall