Australian King-Parrot

Alisterus scapularis

The largest of the brightly coloured local parrots, the King-Parrot is common in the ranges to the west of Canberra. Large numbers can be seen about an hour after sunrise, or in the late afternoon, flying between their communal roosts and their daily feeding range. During the survey, the major communal roost was in Stromlo Forest, before it was destroyed by fire in January 2003.

The number of king-parrots seen in Canberra gardens has increased sevenfold since 1981 but has levelled-off and declined slightly in recent years. Now they are seen in many suburbs whereas in former years they were found mainly in the suburbs adjacent to the western ranges. They feed on seeds, berries and other fruits, nuts, nectar, blossoms and leaf buds. Because such food is readily available in most mature Canberra gardens, more of these birds survive the winter. Perhaps too, more people are providing food for parrots.

Groups of three to five birds are usually seen at a time.These birds have a very obvious seasonal pattern with lower numbers recorded during the breeding season. Breeding records are also increasing but there are rarely nest records, probably because king-parrots nest in large deep hollows in the trunks of tall trees, with the nest 10 metres below the entrance. Such trees seldom occur in Canberra gardens.

Most breeding records are of dependent young, mainly in January and February, but with one record in mid-April. R=22. BR=17.