Range and abundance
The Princess Parrot is highly nomadic, resulting in a patchy and irregular distribution across arid Australia. There are few places where they are regularly seen and even there intervals of up to 20 years may transpire between sightings. Princess Parrots may spend extended periods of time in a given location while breeding, but then disappear.
Princess Parrots have a very long, tapering tail. They are olive green in colour with a red bill, blue-grey crown, pink throat, lime-green shoulders and a bluish rump. They are 34 – 46 cm in length and weigh 90 – 120 g. The female is duller with a slightly shorter tail.
Princess Parrots feed on flowering trees and shrubs, eating mostly seeds but also nectar. They favour arid zone habitats supporting shrubs such as Eremophila, Grevillea and Hakea. Princess Parrots are gregarious. Most sightings are of small flocks of 10 to 20 birds, however they can be found in groups of up to 100 birds. Princess Parrots nest in the hollows of large eucalypts and desert oaks (Allocasuarina). Groups of up to about 10 pairs may nest in one area. Females lay 4 – 6 white glossy eggs.
While no specific threats have been identified for Princess Parrots, they are likely susceptible to a decline in the availability of favoured food plants, which may result from grazing by camels and cattle, and inappropriate fire regimes. Princess Parrots are also likely to be susceptible to a reduction in the availability of tree hollows from unmanaged fire. The increased availability of water on pastoral properties may have allowed other more water-dependent parrots to expand into the arid zone and compete with Princess Parrots. Illegal raiding of nests for eggs and fledglings for the bird trade may affect some breeding colonies.
What is AWC doing?
AWC has removed all cattle from Newhaven Wildlife Sanctuary and regularly controls camel numbers. We conduct a program of prescribed (cool season) burning aimed at protecting old growth vegetation and tree hollows. We have reduced the number of open bores on Newhaven and we are conducting strategic research into the ecological effects of the provision of artificial water.