The Australian King Parrot (Alisterus scapularis) is endemic to eastern Australia. It is found in humid and heavily forested upland regions of the eastern portion of the continent, including eucalyptus wooded areas in and directly adjacent to subtropical and temperate rainforest.
Adults of both sexes are typically about 42 cm (16 in) in length, including the long tail.
The adult males (from about 4 years) are very striking in appearance with a red head, breast, and lower undersides, with a blue lower back, and green wings and tail. They have a reddish-orange upper beak with a black tip and a black lower beak, and yellow eye ring.
Females are similar in appearance to the males, except for a green head and breast, a black upper beak, and paler yellow eye ring.
Juveniles of both sexes resemble the females. Unpaired, younger males can been seen in medium sized groups.
There is one subspecies, A.s. minor, which is found at the northern limit of its range, and is typically about 5 cm (2 in) shorter than the nominate species but otherwise is similar in appearance. They feed on fruits, seeds or small insects.
Distribution and habitat
Australian King Parrots range from North and Central Queensland
to Southern Victoria
. They are frequently seen in small groups with various species of rosella
. Further from their normal eastern upland habitat, they are also found in Canberra
during winter, the outer western suburbs of Sydney
, and the Carnarvon Gorge
in Central Queensland
In their native Australia
, King Parrots are occasionally bred in aviaries and kept as calm and relatively quiet household pets if hand-raised. They are relatively unknown outside Australia
. As pets, they have limited "talking" ability and normally prefer not to be handled, but they do bond readily to people and can be very devoted. Life expectancy in the wild is unknown, but some pets have been known to live for up to 25 years. Some captive King Parrots have been known to develop lung diseases as a result of living indoors as household pets. This species has been crossed with the Australian crimson wing parrot, it has produced a hybrid that breeds true.
- Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern
- Australian Parrots, by Forshaw, Joseph M., Illustrated by Cooper, William T., 2002, Third (revised) Edition, Alexander Editions, ISBN 0-9581212-0-6
- Photographic Field Guide Birds of Australia (second edition); ISBN 1-876334-78-9.