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Friday, February 13, 2009
Australian King Parrot

By Jessica Pineda, Associate Editor of BIRD TALK and BirdChannel.com
Join her on her quest to learn about each parrot species in The Parrot Birder.

australian king parrot
The Australian king parrot is roughly the size of a Goffin's cockatoo and is not a loud bird.

The Australian king parrot (Alisterus scapularis) is one of my favorite birds, and one I would like to own someday. Roughly the size of a small Pionus or a Goffin’s cockatoo, this small, light-weight parrot can be a charmer. This bird might be hard to find in the United States as a pet, but you might see one in a zoo’s aviary. This 16-inch bird is considered an excellent bird for aviaries, and can live harmoniously with a number of species.

I met a king parrot named Reggie a few years ago. Having never seen a king parrot before, I was immediately enthralled by this bird, with its long, broad fan tail and tiny head and beak. Reggie was 3 years old and still a juvenile, his gender soon to be determined. King parrots are sexually dimorphic once they reach maturity, since the male’s head and chest become red and the upper mandible of its beak becomes orange. Males also grow blue feathers along their napes (the underside of their wings and the back) near the tail feathers. Females, in contrast, remain mostly green with black beaks, and the feathers of their underbelly are red.

Literature-wise, I couldn’t find a lot written about the Australian king parrot as a pet. In “A Guide To Australian Long & Broad-tailed Parrots and New Zealand Kakarikis,” it says that king parrots are not heavy chewers and can become easily stressed in new surroundings. They are large, active birds and need plenty of room in their aviary. As a pet, the king parrot will most likely need a cage as large as possible to mimic what would be found in an aviary setting.

Various literature says king parrots are not loud birds, unless alarmed. In my experience with Reggie, I can confirm this. He never once made a peep when I was watching him, but he did love to dance on his perch, wagging his head back and forth. Cute!


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