King Parrot

The brilliantly coloured King Parrot
The brilliantly coloured King Parrot

This beautiful large parrot is very striking with its vivid red and green colouring. They are native to Australia and can be found up and down the east coast.

King Parrots are about 43cm (17 inches) long from head to tail. They have a bright red head, neck and breast, emerald green wings and a dark blue to black broad tail. The female has a dull green head and neck with a red patch on the lower breast, dark green wings and a dark coloured broad tail.

You can tell the difference between a male and female King Parrot because the males have a completely red head whereas the females have an all green head. In fact, the King Parrot is the only parrot to have a completely red head. Immature birds resemble the female and it takes about three years for the male to fully develop his beautiful bright colouring.

Another tell tale sign of a male King Parrot is the vibrant light green zigzag stripe from its shoulders down along its wings. Most female parrots don’t have this distinctive streak.

Here’s a short video I captured of a male and female King Parrot in a tree by my house.

King Parrots live in rainforests and woodlands and can also be found in suburban parks and gardens with lots of trees which provide their food source, like eucalypts and acacias.

They eat seeds, fruit, berries, nuts, insects, pollen, nectar and blossoms and have been known to raid farms for fruit and vegetables. I have seen the occasional King Parrot enjoying an afternoon snack on my green tomatoes in my vegie patch!

King parrot eating
Busted! A King Parrot eating a green tomato.

We don’t often get to see these lovely birds where we live and even though they are so brightly coloured and unmistakable with their brilliant reds and greens, it can be difficult to see them amongst the trees if they have their green back to you. I have also found them to be very timid, making it difficult to get any good photos or videos of them. You can often hear them as they fly over the house because they make a very loud and distinctive high pitched whistle with a rolling “carr-ack” in the call.

These parrots have quite a repertoire of calls, so if you would like to hear them, visit Michael Dahlem Pages On Birds Of Australia for a comprehensive listing.

I managed to capture this footage of a King Parrot I saw sitting on a fence out the back. You can see the light green zigzag stripe on his wings.

Trivia Bit – when viewed under ultraviolet light the feathers of a King Parrot glow yellow!