Parrots form part the soundscape in many parts of Australia. From the amazingly bright and beautiful rainbow lorikeets to the rowdy antics of flocks of sulphur-crested cockatoos, parrots are often difficult to ignore. There are over 50 species of parrots across the country, and during a visit to the Wagga Zoo and Aviary, I was able to see a sample of these fascinating birds.

The free-flight aviary offers the opportunity to get up close to a variety birds, and it is a delight to simply watch them go about their day. The Australian King-Parrot is a stunning bird, and they can be found along the east coast of Australia, especially around rainforests and wet sclerophyll forests. The photo above is of a male bird; female birds have green heads. I love the bright yellow iris and vibrant colouring of these birds.

The Regent Parrot (Polytelis anthopeplus) is mainly found along the southern regions of Western Australia, favouring dry woodland and mallee areas. Their mix of black, olive and red feathers are offset by flashing gold, blue and black upper wings when in flight.

Arid mallee and acacia woodland regions across South Australia, Northern Territory and Western Australia are home to the Scarlet-chested Parrot (Neophema splendida). These brightly coloured, ground feeding birds seem to have a patchwork of bright feathers. The red chest features on males and females, and in flight there are two tones of blue feathers in the shoulders.

A more subtle colouring can be found on the Princess Parrot (Polytelis anthopeplus), described as an elegant but elusive nomad of the west and central desert areas of Western Australia and the Northern Territory. The Great Sandy Desert is the main distribution area, but there have been sightings across much of the arid areas of the country. Young birds have a pale olive head; this develops into a lilac-blue crown, contrasted by a pink throat.

This shy Bourke’s Parrot (Neopsephotus bourkii) is another of the arid parrots of central Australia. Feeding mostly on the ground, it can usually be found near surface water mostly after sundown and before dawn.

With their bright colouring and cheeky expressions, parrots feature in a many great bird photos. There is a collection of Australian parrot photos here – I particularly like the frank photo of an Eclectus parrot, about half-way down the page. There is a link here to the wonderful documentary Australia: Land of Parrots, which explores the diverse and spectacular range of parrots and cockatoos found across Australia.

Being able to visit briefly with these wonderful birds, and the budgerigars, cockatiels, satin bowerbirds and others that shared the aviary, was a delight. It gave me a new appreciation for the parrots that brighten my local landscape – the yellow-tail black cockatoos with their mournful call, the delightful gang-gang cockatoos with their cheeky antics, the king parrots with their polite restraint, the rich red and blue colours of the crimson rosellas, and even the raucous bossiness of the sulphur-crested cockatoos. The world is a brighter and better place for having parrots on parade.

Do you have parrots in your area?

Photo: Australian King-Parrot (Alisterus scapularis) with moulting feathers