The Friendly and Majestic Australian King Parrots

An Australian king parrot sitting in a tree.

The nature of the king parrot is one that is curious, friendly, and gentle with a noble character. (Image: Thirumurugan Ponnusamy via Dreamstime)

The woods surrounding my place in Australia have an abundance of different varieties of eucalyptus trees and the European fruit and ornamental trees that we grow on the property seem to invite many different species of native birds into the yard. It’s a chance to interact and become close to some of the friendly birds that live around us, making us more content and cheerful. My favorite of all the birds that come to visit us is the king parrots.

I do also enjoy watching the magpies and kookaburras as they make their presence known with their unique birdcalls. Cockatoos, on the other hand, screech and squawk as if demanding your attention. I think it is because they really want to talk to us, but we are not listening to them since they are known as pests. Then there are the lorikeets and crimson parrots that make interesting sounds that either catch your attention or warn you of danger. But my mood really livens up whenever I hear the king parrot calling out with its high-pitched whistle. I feel like the king parrot is announcing to everyone its presence in the tree and proclaiming how wonderful this day is!

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Listen to the king parrot’s whistle:

A male King parrot has orange feathers on his body and head, his wings are green. He sits in the handmade wooden bird feeder that has a base and a roof,
Male king parrot named Toby eating seed from the bird feeder. (Image: Trisha Haddock via Nspirement)

King parrots are brightly colored with green and orange feathers. It seems to me that these birds are wearing some kind of majestic clothing because of the way the different colored feathers are displayed on their bodies. These birds exhibit sexual dimorphism. This tells us that the male and female have an appearance noticeably different. The male king parrot has bright orange feathers for his crown, face, and shoulders along with an orange beak. Both of his wings are dark green with a splash of pale green highlighting them. He wears an indigo color on his back. His tail feathers are long being also indigo and dark green.

The female King Parrot with mostly bright green feathers on her head and chest. Her bottom half and legs are orange feathers like she wears a skirt. She sits on my garden boots trying to catch my attention.

Female king parrot, a frequent visitor we have named Mavis, sitting on my gardening boots. (Image: Trisha Haddock via Nspirement)

The female king parrot has an emerald-green feathered crown and face with her beak being grey. Her wings and back are emerald-green to dark-green with just a touch of aqua blended in, and a few marks of pale-green can be found among her feathers. To me, she looks as though she is gorgeously dressed in pants or a fancy skirt since her bottom half and the tops of her short legs are bright orange. The patterns and colors of the king parrot’s feathers can be different, with some mutants having yellow among their feathers. Both male and female king parrots have feathers that when seen under ultraviolet light appear to have a yellow glow.

A juvenile male King Parrot has more green feathers and has spots of orange on his head and chest. He is eating sunflower seeds on the ledge.

The juvenile male king parrot looks more like the adult female with more green feathers on his head. When he matures, he will lose his green feathers and grow his flamboyant orange feathers. King parrots can grow to a length of 17 inches (45 cm) with a life expectancy of up to 25 years. (Image: Trisha Haddock via Nspirement)

King parrots are a little shy, although they have a curious nature. They will observe your movements to see if you are good or not, sitting in the trees until they have figured out that you are safe. Then, they will come closer to you. One day, I found a dried sunflower seed head and I scattered the seeds on a ledge for them. That day, I watched them both chirp and chatter in a delightful manner as they cracked open the shells to eat the sunflower seeds inside.

Toby and Mavis the King Parrots that visit us like they are a couple for a treat of sunflower seeds. They eat sharing the sunflower seeds on the ledge.
Male and female king parrots sharing sunflower seeds on the ledge. Most of the time they fly about in pairs. King parrots will fly as a family too, with the young juvenile parrots and some mature siblings. (Image: Trisha Haddock via Nspirement)

King parrots eat seeds, berries, nuts, blossoms, nectar, fruit, leaf buds, and to my dismay, some leafy plants like geraniums. My small geranium with red flowers was sitting in a pot, glowing in the sun, when a pair of king parrots landed on it and devoured the plant down to its main stem. Fortunately, my geranium plant grew back. I have seen them eat the fruit off my tomato plants as well, but they were thoughtful enough to leave some tomatoes for me. In the wild, they feed on eucalyptus, Angophora, and acacia trees, along with some shrubs. They will venture into backyards and orchards. When food in the wild is plentiful they will leave both the vegetables and fruit growing in the trees alone.

The male King Parrot captured in flight about to land on the geranium to eat most of the geranium.
Male king parrot about to devour a geranium. (Image: Trisha Haddock via Nspirement)

The king parrot will eat from your hand and even land on your arm or shoulder if they think you are a friend. Pet king parrots will eat nutritious seeds that can be bought especially for parrots. To give your pet king parrots a treat they will enjoy eating, you can mix sunflower seeds, a piece of apple (remove seeds), unsalted peanuts, and almonds and give it to them. Wild king parrots are fussy eaters and it is good to grow a variety of acacia or eucalyptus trees – and possibly a geranium – to attract king parrots into your garden.

King parrots like the company of people, but they don’t like to be touched as they like their own space. The king parrots are happy to sit on a branch or perch and chatter away to you, and they like to listen to your voice. They have vocal cords with the ability to make simple words, too. If they look as though they are happily listening to your speech, repeat easy words often. If their inner nature wants to speak, you might be surprised one day and hear your bird try to say some of those words back to you. King parrots that are kept as pets in a large bird aviary are more likely to speak. The wild king parrots that visit me, however, like to have a chat with me before I give them a few sunflower seeds. I have learned they like to hear certain words when I am in a joyful mood and maybe someday they might want to try to say them back!

The female King Parrot sitting on the small outdoor table waiting to be fed on the table.
Female king parrot, Mavis, listening to me speak as she sits on the outdoor table waiting for a feed. (Image: Trisha Haddock via Nspirement)

Bird watching

Bird watching, also known as birding, is a proven way to help improve one’s mental wellbeing and physical body. The nature of the king parrot is one that is curious, friendly, and gentle with a noble character. Watching birds is a relaxing and energy-rejuvenating activity that I have come to enjoy. The birds can be comical, courageous, smart, curious, bossy, and playful. Every bird has its own traits. While I have found the majority are shy, others like to have your full attention!

A male King Parrot flew in from the forest and has many feathers that have been lost and are growing back. The bird was in good spirits and looked healthy.

The king parrots are only found in Australia and they live in the forest areas from Victoria through NSW to QLD. This male king parrot flew into my place. They prefer forests that are packed with tall trees and large canopies, as they live in the cool, moist, and shaded understory. This king parrot seemed healthy because he was bright and chirpy and he is growing new feathers. (Image: Trisha Haddock via Nspirement)

An Australian Dreamtime story

There is an Australian Dreamtime story that is linked with the king parrot along with all other Australian birds. The Australian Aboriginal people passed on a rich traditional culture to their kin through storytelling.

A flock of mostly male and a few female King Parrots were flying about in a family and stoped for a visit and to eat sunflower seeds.

The king parrots flying about in their family group to visit us. They make their nests out of decayed wood in a hollow tree trunk. Their breeding season is from September to January. They can lay up to five eggs, which will hatch in 20 days. The time spent raising the hatchlings in the nest is up to 35 days. (Image: Trisha Haddock via Nspirement)

How the Australian birds got their colorful feathers

At the beginning of the Dreamtime story, all the Australian birds are black and a pigeon has somehow hurt his foot. A parrot comes to his aid. All the birds surround the poor pigeon and they look sad, as they know how sick he is. Crow is the only bird that stays away. The parrot, though, knows how to help, so it creeps up to the pigeon and uses its beak to burst the swelling on its foot. A rush of color squirts out and this substance lands all over the birds and that’s how they got their colors! Some birds found they now had spots and others got special markings, and as they flew away, you could see all their brilliant colors and patterns. Crow was the only bird that got none. The pigeon thanked the parrot and they flew away with their new coloring.

The king parrot being so brightly colored must have been close to the pigeon. Today, the type of pigeon that lives near the king parrot has red feet.

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