Red-rumped parrot (Psephotus haematonotus)

Synonyms: Platycercus haematonotus
GenusPsephotus (1)
SizeLength: 27 cm (2)
Weight54 – 70 g (2)

Classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1) and listed on Appendix II of CITES (3).

This parrot is named after its most distinctive feature: the bright red patch of feathers on its rump. Its striking rump contrasts with the rest of the plumage, which on males is largely grass green and on females is a duller brownish-green. The underparts also differ slightly between the sexes; the male has a yellow belly shading to white under the tail, while females are yellowish-olive below (2). The more attractively coloured male may also have blue, grey and black shades in its wing feathers, a blue tinge to its forehead and lower cheeks, and a dark green tail, tipped black and edged in white. Immature red-rumped parrots are similar to females in appearance, but duller (2).

Two subspecies of the red-rumped parrot are recognised: Psephotus haematonotus haematonotus occurs in south-east Australia, from southern Queensland to Victoria and eastern South Australia, while Psephotus haematonotus caeruleus is found in the Lake Eyre region of South Australia, south-western Queensland and north-western New South Wales (2) (4).

The red-rumped parrot inhabits open and riverine woodland, grassland, farmland, occasionally mangroves, and urban areas such as roadsides, parks and golf courses (2) (4). It occurs up to an elevation of around 1,100 metres (2)

The red-rumped parrot, which is most active at dawn and dusk (4), feeds on the seeds of grasses and herbs, shoots, leaves, blossoms and some fruits (2). To enable it to feed easily on seed heads, it cleverly perches on the stem of the plant until its weight bends the stem to the ground, which allows the parrot to peck up the seeds without difficulty (4).

Breeding takes place between August and January, when the red-rumped parrot builds a nest in a hollow tree limb or hole in the trunk, often near water, or on fence posts or in farm and suburban buildings. It lays between four and eight eggs and incubates the clutch for 19 days. The young hatchlings remain in the nest for around four weeks (2). While it is often seen in pairs or small flocks, outside of the breeding season groups consisting of over 100 individuals may occur (4).

Considered to be a common bird that is abundant in some parts of its range, the red-rumped parrot is not believed to be threatened with extinction (1) (2), although there is some evidence that numbers may be declining slightly (1). The reasons behind this are not clear.

As the red-rumped parrot is found in the pet trade (4), this species is listed on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) meaning that any international trade in this species should be carefully controlled (3).

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  1. IUCN Red List (July, 2014)