Mallee Ringneck, Barnardius zonarius ssp. barnardi Click to enlarge image
Mallee Ringneck, Barnardius zonarius ssp. barnardi Image: Peter and Shelly

Fast Facts

  • Classification
  • Size Range
    30 cm to 43 cm

In Western Australia, these parrots are known as Twenty Eights, from the contact call - a whistled 'twen-ty-eight' - of Australian Ringnecks in the forests of the south-west.

What do Australian Ringnecks look like?


The Australian Ringneck is a large parrot, differing in size and plumage in different regions. There are four subspecies, in two main groups. All are mostly green, with an obvious yellow band on the hind-neck. Members of the Mallee group have a mainly green head and neck. The Mallee Ringneck, subspecies barnardi, has a more varied green and blue body, with more yellow underneath and a red frontal band.

The Cloncurry subspecies macgillivrayi has much more yellow and pale turquoise around the face. The Port Lincoln group all have dark hoods and are mainly green. The Twenty Eight Parrot, subspecies semitorquatus, has a red frontal band and is all green underneath. The Port Lincoln Parrot, subspecies zonarius, is green and yellow underneath.

All subspecies hybridise widely. They are quiet when feeding, but when disturbed fly off with loud alarm calls. Their flight is swift and undulating.

Australian Ringneck, Barnardius zonarius
Australian Ringneck, Barnardius zonarius. Image: questagame

Where do Australian Ringnecks live?


Australian Ringnecks are found in pairs or small flocks over lightly timbered areas, open woodlands and tree-lined watercourses.


The Australian Ringneck is endemic to (only found in) Australia. The Mallee group is found in arid eastern Northern Territory, north-western Queensland and inland eastern Australia. The Port Lincoln group is in central and western arid Australia. Ringnecks are generally absent from coastal areas in the eastern states though aviary escapes may be found around Sydney and the Central Coast of New South Wales and the Tablelands.


They are mainly resident or sedentary, but may move in arid areas in response to rainfall.

What do Australian Ringnecks eat and how do they communicate?

Feeding and diet

Australian Ringnecks feed mainly on the ground, but also in trees and shrubs, usually in the morning and late afternoon, resting in the heat of the day. They eat seeds, and some fruits, flowers, nectar and insects and their larvae. They often feed on spilt grain on roadsides.


Call loudly and often when flying or alarmed - a mellow 'kwink-kwink-kwink-kwink' or 'kling-kling'. The Port Lincoln group is more noisy and strident. The Twenty Eight Parrot is named for its call. Also, soft chattering.

Twenty-eight Parrot, Barnardius zonarius ssp. semitorquatus
Twenty-eight Parrot, Barnardius zonarius ssp. semitorquatus. Image: lancelot239

How do Australian Ringnecks mate?

Breeding behaviours

Australian Ringnecks lay their eggs in hollows in living or dead trees on a bare base or on rotting wood dust. They enter through a hole in the trunk, a knothole or a spout. The female incubates the eggs while being fed by the male and she may leave the nest for a short time to be fed by him. The young are fed by both parents and often can be seen at the mouth of the hollow.

  • Breeding season

    August to December, and in response to rain

  • Clutch size

    Four to six

  • Incubation

    20 days

  • Time in nest

    30 days

Are Australian Ringnecks endangered?

Conservation status

In the east, numbers are affected by clearing of mallee scrub and woodland for agriculture. Ringnecks were considered vermin in Western Australia and were shot as orchard pests in open shooting seasons. Aviary escapees are seen around urban areas in the east.


  • Crome, F. and Shields, J. 1992. Parrots and Pigeons of Australia. Angus and Robertson/National Photographic Index of Australian Wildlife, Sydney.
  • Higgins, P.J. (ed) 1999. Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds, Volume 4 (Parrots to Dollarbird). Oxford University Press, Melbourne.
  • Morcombe, M. 2000. Field guide to Australian Birds. Steve Parish Publishing.
  • Beruldsen, G 2003. Australian Birds: Their Nests and Eggs. Self-published, Queensland.