December 13th – King Parrot

King Parrot (Alisterus scapularis)

The King Parrot (Alisterus scapularis) is a native bird with striking colours – the male with an orange head and beak, the female more predominantly green.

This male (and his social group) is a regular visitor to the balcony of a family member, much to the disappointment of the Lorikeet in the background.

This species was discovered by a German adventurer and botanist Martin Lichtenstein in 1818. Lichtenstein (“Licht” to his botanist mates) travelled the world in the early 19th Century and first-described several species, mostly amphibians, and was the major motivator for what has now become known as the Berlin Zoo. Several species have been named after Lichtenstein.

The King Parrot is spread largely up and down the east coast of Australia – along the southern Victorian coast to as far north as Cooktown. Like most parrots it feeds on seeds and fruit growing wild in native bushland.

These birds have striking colours and are physically larger than their Lorikeet cousins. They can be kept as pets though they generally don’t like to be handled, and probably won’t “talk” like other parrot species. They have been known to live for up to 25 years in captivity.

It is currently King Parrot breeding season, which usually lasts until January. They will lay their eggs inside a hollowed eucalyptus tree, laying 3-5 eggs with an incubation period of roughly 3 weeks.

And while most websites I can find regurgitate much of the same information, the hugely informative Australian Fauna website suggests these birds are rather poor flyers, requiring ample space to take off and land.

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