Species group: Australian Parakeets
Other common names: Mallee Parrot; Barnard's Parrot; Bulla Bulla; Australian Ringneck Parrot
Scientific name: Barnardius zonarius barnardi
Mallee Ringneck Parakeets belong to the so-called “Australian ringneck parakeet” group, thanks to the attractive yellow collar around the nape of their neck. Once its own species, this classic aviary bird has been lumped into the Australian Ringneck species (B. zonarius), because of the frequency with which these birds interbreed in the wild with the Port Lincoln Parrot, B. zonarius zonarius. However, the various forms are quite distinct to bird breeders and pet owners, so we're going to discuss the Mallee Parakeet subspecies separately.
The Mallee Ringneck Parakeet could be viewed as the more easterly version of the Port Lincoln Parrot, and it is generally a widespread bird that makes use of a variety of habitats. However, it is not as willing as the Port Lincoln to use disturbed human habitat, so it may be more affected by logging and other human activities. Because the bird hybridizes rather freely, you must take care to pair it with a mate of the appropriate subspecies.
Distinguishing Port Lincoln Parrots from Mallee Ringneck Parakeets is easy: Port Lincolns have dark heads that contrast strongly with the yellow collar, while Mallee Ringnecks have light green heads that seem to harmonize more sweetly with the yellow. To distinguish the Mallee Ringneck from the Cloncurry Parrot (B. z. macgillivrayi), look at the face. The nominate subspecies has a red frontal band above the beak, which is absent in the Cloncurry. It is also worth noting the broad area of yellow on the Cloncurry's belly. Females of all of these forms are slightly duller than males.
110 - 150 grams (4 - 5 oz.)
35 centimeters (14 in.)
Behavior / temperament:
Some people advise against holding the Mallee Ringneck Parakeet as a single pet, stating that the hand-fed babies can be even more aggressive than parent-raised birds, because they have no fear of humans. Others report that they can be an interesting pet for experts who can respect the bird's limits. They do not like to be held or touched, but they can become tame and enjoy following or mimicking their owner. Still others report that their hand-fed babies do stay sweet in maturity. Bring your best parrot management skills, work with respect and kindness to socialize your pet every day, and have a plan for housing the bird in a spacious aviary if it does revert to its wild nature. All parrots are individuals, and there are simply no guarantees with the Mallee Ringneck.
For most people, the greatest delight in owning the colorful and not-too-noisy Mallee Ringneck Parakeet will come from maintaining them in an aviary, where they can observe their interesting behavior. Be aware that this bird can be aggressive, and many breeders will place visual barriers between pairs, so that they don't harass each other through aviary wires.
Most Mallee Ringneck Parakeets will be kept in pairs, and you should plan to have a large walk-in flight for each pair. It is very important to set up barriers to prevent pairs from being able to dispute with each other. If for some reason you end up with an “odd” bird, it will need its own flight. Most people report that these birds are “touch me nots” who are happiest with a large territory that allows them to fly, so do not plan on clipping their wings and exercising them on a play gym.
Like most Australian grass parakeets, the Mallee Ringneck Parrot isn't terribly difficult to feed right. The core of the diet is usually a high quality small seed mix. Sunflower seed should be limited, but they do seem to benefit from high quality nuts like walnuts or cracked hazelnuts. You should also supply a chopped salad heavy on seasonal fruits and vegetables, with plenty of chopped greens supplied. Soaked, sprouted, or milky seeding grasses should be offered regularly. You can offer a high quality pellet, but if the birds will not eat it, you may have to instead prepare a high quality multi-grain or cockatiel “birdie” bread.
You may want to ask your vet or breeder about whether to offer calcium or other supplements to your Mallee Ringneck Parakeets, but bear in mind that calcium may not easily be absorbed without access to either natural sunlight, full spectrum lighting, or vitamin D3.
Written by Elaine Radford