Australian King Parrot

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Is the Australian King Parrot right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: King Parrot; Eastern King Parrot; Queensland King Parrot; King Lory; King Parakeet; Scarlet and Green Parrot

Scientific name: Alisterus scapularis

The basics:
The Australian King Parrot is a stunning crimson and green aviary bird with a quiet, somewhat reserved personality. Relatively unknown to pet owners, the King dislikes being touched and needs to be socialized very young to become a good pet, but a properly managed bird can be affectionate, and they're one of the quietest mid-sized parrots. Like many other Australian parakeets, they can take more time than other parrots to overcome their natural shyness around people, and an untame adult is unlikely to be trainable.

There are two subspecies of the Australian King Parrot, both endemic to eastern Australia. The northern subspecies, A. s. minor, is noticeably smaller than the nominate subspecies, A. s. scapularis, but otherwise they are much the same. This successful parrot is rather common in many parts of its habitat, and in the wild it can be a bold bird that visits urban parks and gardens, as well as wetter forest. They breed in a darker, denser woodland habitat than many of the Australian parakeets, suggesting that they do benefit from having a quiet place in their flight where they can retreat from too much noise or light. They are relatively hardy and have been encountered at altitudes of over 1,600 meters.

These eye-catching green and crimson mid-sized parrots mature slowly, with full color not coming in until age three. The adult Australian King Parrot is easy to sex. The scarlet head, neck, and underparts of the mature male will knock you off your perch. The female has a quieter beauty, with her scarlet underparts not extending higher than the lower belly.

195 - 275 grams (6.9 - 9.7 oz.)

Average size:
43 centimeters (17 in.)

10 - 25 years

Behavior / temperament:
The Australian King Parrot can be a calm and gentle parrot in a large aviary. They are bigger birds and might harass others during breeding season, but non-breeding birds are frequently kept with success in mixed aviaries. Breeders have observed that the female is dominant and that breeding will not occur if she doesn't like her mate, so introduce birds carefully and watch their interactions.

Seldom available as pets, the Australian King Parrot is praised by the few owners lucky enough to possess hand-fed babies. They are fairly independent and non-clingy, but the flip side is that they don't usually enjoy being touched, and they may not be as interactive as some people expect. These birds must be socialized at a very early age, or they are unlikely to become much interested in being a true pet, rather than an aviary beauty. However, if you do start early enough, these spectacular birds have proved to have hidden talents, and some of them have even learned to talk, a rare achievement among the Australian parakeets. You could also enjoy teaching your pet to whistle.

Virtually all Australian King Parrots are kept in pairs in large aviaries, which are custom-built to the purpose. Considering their size, they are congenial and non-destructive birds who have been successfully housed with other non-competing species. They will chew some, but if you provide plenty of tasty, bird-safe tree trimmings for their busy beaks, you can cut down if never eliminate the wholesale destruction of any aviary plants. Of course, make sure all plants in their home are safe for parrots to chew.

If you are lucky enough to obtain a single hand-fed pet, your Australian King Parrot will still need a larger cage than seems reasonable, because they often like to be near you but not necessarily touched or fussed over. Try a powder-coated cage with a minimum size of 24”w by 24” d by 24” tall with a 3/4” bar spacing. Larger is always better, especially if the bird prefers to enjoy you at a distance. Have enough space to allow the bird to fly, to chew up the bird-safe tree trimmings you provide, and to splash daily in a shallow bath. Although the females are somewhat dominant, they don't necessarily become mean or nippy if they refuse to leave the cage (home) territory, but you still want to be on guard against the birds becoming lazy.

Australian parakeets have been traditionally offered a small seed mix diet, but the Australian King Parrot is from a wetter habitat than many other species, and this bird benefits from a richer diet. A chopped salad based on fruits and vegetables can be 50% or even more of the diet and should include a wide variety of items like greens, fresh fruit, quick frozen and re-heated mixed vegetables, high quality nuts like almond, and more. A small seed mix should certainly be supplied, but it should be of the best quality and fresh enough to sprout. Indeed, you should regularly offer some of the soaked and sprouted seed, as well as milky seeding grasses and sprouted millet sprays. A high quality pellet should also be available.

Never include avocado or chocolate in the diet, as these items are toxic to all parrots. Australian King Parrots are said to love corn on the cob, and they may also enjoy a high quality “birdie bread” made from one of the popular cockatiel or multi-grain bread recipes.

Written by Elaine Radford

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