Bourke's Parrot Click to enlarge image
Bourke's Parrot Image: Daniela Parra
creative commons

Fast Facts

  • Classification
  • Size Range
    19 cm to 23 cm
AMS405/13  Bourkes Parrot nestlings
Scanned in 2005 for the Birds in the Backyard website Image: Jack Purnell
© Australian Museum

Another name for Bourke's Parrot is 'Night Parrot', as it will fly into watering places at night. However it is not to be confused with the real, and extremely rare, Night Parrot, Pezoporus occidentalis.


Bourke's Parrot is a small parrot which is mostly grey-brown above and pinkish below. It has a prominent area of white around the eyes, giving a spectacled appearance. The male has a blue forehead band, with blue also on the bend of the wing, and a paler shade of blue on the flanks, side of rump and under the tail. The female Bourke's Parrot is similar, but duller.


Bourke's Parrot is found in mulga and other acacia scrubs, and in native cypress and other open eucalypt woodlands.


Bourke's Parrot is widespread across arid and semi-arid areas of the inland, from north-western New South Wales and south-western Queensland to the mid-coast of Western Australia, and from the Devil's Marbles in Northern Territory south to Port Augusta, South Australia.


The movements of Bourke's Parrot are not well-known. Although thought to be nomadic, it is likely that they are resident in some areas.

Feeding and diet

Bourke's Parrots feed mainly on the ground, and only occasionally in trees. Pairs, or small groups of four to six, feed on seeds of grasses and herbs. They need to be near a source of water, which they visit usually at dawn and dusk.


In flight, Bourke's Parrot makes a mellow, soft, chirruping twitter. Its alarm call is a shrill double note.

Breeding behaviours

Bourke's Parrots form monogamous pairs. They nest in a hollow, usually vertical, of a dead tree or stump. The eggs are laid on decayed wood in the bottom of the hollow. The female incubates the eggs, leaving the nest once a day to be fed regurgitated seeds brought by the male, and both parents brood the young.

  • Breeding season: July to December
  • Clutch size: Three to six
  • Incubation: 19 days
  • Time in nest: 28 days

Conservation status

In Eastern Australia, Bourke's Parrot appears to have been adversely affected by overstocking and rabbit plagues, both of which remove understorey plants. In some areas of Western Australia, populations of Bourke's Parrots have expanded since grazing was scaled down, allowing vegetation to regenerate.


  • Higgins, P.J. (ed) 1999. Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds, Volume 4 (Parrots to Dollarbird). Oxford University Press, Melbourne.
  • Pizzey, G. and Knight, F. 1997. Field Guide to the Birds of Australia. Angus and Robertson, Sydney.
  • Morcombe, M. 2000. Field guide to Australian Birds. Steve Parish Publishing.
  • Simpson, K and Day, N. 1999. Field guide to the birds of Australia, 6th Edition. Penguin Books, Australia.