Superb Parrot Click to enlarge image
AMS405/13 Superb Parrot Image: Jack Purnell
© Australian Museum

Fast Facts

  • IUCN Conservation Status
    LEAST CONCERN (LC)
    Australian Federal Conservation Status
    Vulnerable
    NSW Conservation Status
    Vulnerable species
  • Classification
    Species
    swainsonii
    Genus
    Polytelis
    Family
    Psittacidae
    Order
    Psittaciformes
    Class
    Aves
    Phylum
    Chordata
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    40cm

The Superb Parrot is partly migratory, moving northward from the riverine plains on Murray-Darling Basin to northern NSW for the winter.

Identification

The Superb Parrot is a medium-sized parrot, with a swift and graceful flight. Its tail is long and the wings are backswept and pointed. Both male and female are mostly bright green, though the male has a bright yellow forehead and cheeks, with a scarlet band across the upper chest. The female is duller, with red thighs and patches of pink on the inner area of the tail feathers. Both have a red iris and bright pink bill. The Superb Parrot is also known as the Barraband's or Scarlet-breasted Parrot, or 'Green Leek'.

Distribution

The Superb Parrot is endemic to the interior of south-eastern Australia. It is found in the Riverina area of New South Wales and Victoria, and migrates to northern New South Wales for the winter.



Habitat

The Superb Parrot is found along timbered waterways and nearby well-watered woodlands, especially in River Red Gums along the Murray and Murrumbidgee Rivers. They are usually seen in family parties or small flocks. They roost communally in trees.

Seasonality

Superb Parrots move extensively within their range, with a migration to the northern part of New South Wales in winter. Movement is from the south-western Riverina area to central and northern New South Wales along the Namoi and Macquarie Rivers.

Feeding and diet

Superb Parrots feed mainly on the ground, and sometimes in the foliage of trees. They eat the seeds of grasses and plants, fruits and berries, nectar, flowers and some insects.

Communication

Loud 'krak, krrak' contact call; soft twittering from feeding birds. All calls have a distinctive throaty quality.

Breeding Behaviour/s

Superb Parrots nest in deep hollows or hollow limbs, in large trees along watercourses, usually in River Red Gums (Eucalyptus camaldulensis). The eggs are laid in wood dust at the bottom of the hollow. During the 20-day incubation period and for a week or so after the eggs hatch, the female Superb Parrot is fed entirely by the male, in the nest or nearby. The female alone incubates the eggs. Both parents feed the young.

Breeding Season: September to December.

Economic/social impacts

Superb Parrots are listed as Vulnerable (both NSW status and Commonwealth status), though locally common in their habitat. Alteration of their habitat and land clearing has removed many of their nesting trees and has made their winter feeding grounds unsuitable. They do use crops as a food supply.