King Parrots: A Common Australian Sight

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Local Australians tend to view the copious King Parrots with varying degrees of enthusiasm or converse nonchalance. Some people are quite interested to observe them when they land on a stair banister close by. Others don’t even bother to give them a second glance.


This post was originally published in 2008. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content. 

Either way, nobody can deny that King Parrots are gorgeous birds – the males with red heads and beaks and brilliant bright green stripes highlighting their dark green wings, and the females with iridescent shades of red and green covering their bodies.

Similar to Rosellas, which are also brilliantly colourful birds, the abundance of rainbow colours in many Aussie birds are anomalies and welcome deviations from our somewhat drab Canadian repertoire of feathered friends.

We are used to seeing the likes of cockatoos and parrots as pets in large cages, owned by somewhat eccentric people. Here in Australia, they all fly free. (And although I have previously owned birds myself, seeing these large creatures unfold their wings and take to the skies makes me feel somewhat sorry for their captive cousins).

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Interestingly though, wild King Parrots tend to have a tame side to them that is eerily reminiscent of their caged Canadian friends. We have a collection of about eight parrots that live just outside our front door. They frequent the hanging bird feeder that sits outside, regardless of whether or not food is there. And with minimal training, I now have them (literally) eating out of the palm of my hand. The next step is to have them tame enough to sit on my arm – a commonly achieved goal of anybody here who has the patience to work with parrots.

Since King Parrots are so easily tamed, many locals surmise that parrots as a species are naturally tame. In actual fact, they’re just really smart. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist of a wild parrot to eventually link humans to food, and to realize that people are generally not a threat. Similar to Ravens, which have been credited with the admirable capability of deductive reasoning (a quality that many fellow humans seem to be somewhat lacking in!), our parrot friends are quick learners.

So although we have no desire to cage our colourful flying friends, we are enjoying their company and songs, observing their animated interactions with one another, and are learning to develop a relationship with each of them. The more you learn about birds, the more you realize that the phrase “bird brain” doesn’t give these creatures half the credit they deserve.

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9 thoughts on “King Parrots: A Common Australian Sight”

  1. @Jenny – They can’t talk…in English!…just yet, but I’m working on getting them to at least say “hello”. Their chatter is adorable, and we certainly have conversations during our feeding sessions. I swear I can hear the beginnings of “hello” coming out, but it’s probably my imagination!

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  2. First of all congratulation for such a great site. I learned a lot reading article here today. I will make sure i visit this site once a day so i can learn more.

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  3. A female king parrot landed in our yard yesterday and stayed all day but was sleeping every 30 mi s or so. As it started to get dark I hoped she would fly home. As it turned out she was unable to fly any further than 3 foot. We put her in a cage with food and water and kept her warm but don’t know why she can’t fly. She has no obvious injuries. We want to keep her caged until she at least eats to build up her strength and then hopefully release her and see if she flies. She’s currently in a cat cage. Any thoughts on her condition?

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    • Hi Sandy,
      No idea what could be wrong with her. You might want to call a local bird sanctuary/rescue center and see what they recommend. Good luck! Hope she recovers.

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  4. Thank you for putting into perfect words the way I see these gorgeous birds, I’ve had 2-3 on my arms and hands once, but there is one that I see morning & afternoon most days , he makes me forget my worries, if I’m moody, soon fixed that too. I named him ‘Tame’ which is what made me comment, the word Tame you mentioned a good few times in this article. Your comment about quick learner. Definately, also they have such different nature’s almost as if they know who they can trust by looking into the eyes, anyway thought I’d share my story with you and thanks for making me smile very cool …. DJacobs

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    • Hey Donna,
      Indeed – interacting with these lovely creatures is a way to forget about the worrying minutia of our lives…
      After writing this post, I moved into another place where a whole flock of King Parrots lived, but one in particular captured my heart. Every morning when I awoke and would potter around in the kitchen, he would hear the kitchen sink/water running and would land on the windowsill in front of me to say hi! Then he would peck on the glass until I came out and fed him. Smart cookie! 😉

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