Australian King Parrot (Alisterus scapularis)

Australian King Parrot

[order] PSITTACIFORMES | [family] Psittacidae | [latin] Alisterus scapularis | [authority] Lichtenstein, 1818 | [UK] Australian King Parrot | [FR] Perruche royale | [DE] Konigssittich | [ES] Papagayo Australiano | [NL] Australische Koningsparkiet


Monotypic species


Classified in the subfamily Psittacinae within the true parrot family, the genus Alisterus was described by Australian amateur ornithologist Gregory Mathews in 1911. They were previously considered part of the genus Aprosmictus, which contains the Red-winged and Olive-shouldered Parrots. The king parrots appear to be most closely related to the genera Aprosmictus and the long-tailed parrots of the genus Polytelis, united by similarities in food begging and contact calls by chicks, and by more recent molecular analysis in 2005. The molecular work placed this group in turn as sister to a group containing Eclectus, Tanygnathus, and Psittacula. The three species are forest-dwelling, and are found singly, in pairs, or in groups.

Physical charateristics

A.s. scapularis: male-red head, neck and underparts; hindneck has blue band; back and wings dark green; wing has silver/green band when folded; blue lower back and rump; tail black tinged with blue. Upper mandible orange/red with black tip, lower mandible black with orange base. Eye yellow. Female-green head and upperparts; red lower breast down to abdomen; silver/green on wing minimal or absent; dark green tail with pink at tip. Bill grey. A.s. minor: both adults as in scapularis, but smaller in size.

Listen to the sound of Australian King Parrot

[audio: King Parrot.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

recorded by Vicki Powys

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 42 cm size max.: 43 cm
incubation min.: 20 days incubation max.: 22 days
fledging min.: 33 days fledging max.: 37 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 6  


Australasia : East Australia, Queensland.


Occurs up to 1625m (5330 ft). Found in variety of habitats from high forested areas to lower more open spaces. During the breeding season birds are found in more dense forest such as wet sclerophyll forest, gullies, eucalyptus woodland and savanna woodland bordering with riverine forest. Also, outside of breeding season they are found in cultivated lands, parks, orchards and sometimes gardens.


Australian King-Parrot breeds from August to January, but it depends on the locality. It nests in dense forest, in hollow in tree, particularly in Eucalyptus trunk. Hollow can be very deep, with entrance at up to 10 metres above the ground, but with eggs laid near ground-level. Nest is usually lined with decayed wood dust and chewed wood shavings. Female lays 4 to 6 slightly glossy eggs. Incubation lasts about 20 days, by female alone. But male attends her during this period. Both parents feed altricial chicks, and young fledge at about 5 weeks of age. At the end of breeding season, family groups disperse, and immature gather in flocks of up to 30 birds or more, which can damage orchards and crops.

Feeding habits

Eats fruits, flowers, berries, nuts, seeds, insect larvae, buds and other vegetation. A favourite is mistletoe Viscum album. May take some crops. Conspicuous when not feeding, when eating wary and quiet. Gather in groups to feed in morning, then sit quietly through the heat of the day, becoming active again in late afternoon.

Video Australian King Parrot


copyright: Josep del Hoyo


This species has a very large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Australian King Parrots range from North and Central Queensland to Southern Victoria. They are frequently seen in small groups with various species of rosella. Further from their normal eastern upland habitat, they are also found in Canberra during winter, the outer western suburbs and north shore of Sydney, and the Carnarvon Gorge in Central Queensland
Australian King Parrot status Least Concern


Sedentary but clear altitudinal movements with South populations, mountain populations winter in lowlands. The adult lowland population is sedetnary, but the immatures show erratic movements forming small flocks.

Distribution map

Australian King Parrot distribution range map

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *