This text is from my book about Canberra. Canberra Birds: A Report on the
first 21 years of the Garden Bird Survey. Several of these species have
become much more common in the 13 years since the period covered in my book
(1981-2002). In particular the Little Corella, Rainbow Lorikeet and Superb
Parrot are now fairly easy to find, though not in the same suburbs or time
of year. I have had 13 species in or over my garden, although only four
species are in my garden every day.
Parrots comprise a major and increasing part of Canberra's avifauna. The
species that are almost constantly around most suburbs are the Galah,
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Crimson Rosella and Eastern Rosella and in the
cooler months in some suburbs the Gang-gang Cockatoo and Australian
King-Parrot. All are seed-eaters, though the lorikeets are mainly
nectar-feeders. Many will be attracted to the fruit of foreign trees such as
apples, plums, etc. and many will readily come to seed provided for them.
This supplementary feeding may be a major factor in the increase in the
population of several species. Most resident species have average group size
in the 2 to 10 range, as parrots generally are fairly sociable. As well as
several naturally occurring common species, there are native species that
are locally rare or out of their typical range. Also many exotic or native
species of escaped or released pet birds or their progeny, are observed. It
is common for escaped native parrots to associate with similar sized common
native species and they may survive for extended periods. Lesser recorded
parrots include: Major Mitchell's Cockatoo Cacatua leadbeateri Rank: 166;
Scaly-breasted Lorikeet Trichoglossus chlorolepidotus Rank: 183; Musk
Lorikeet Glossopsitta concinna Rank: 162; Purple-crowned Lorikeet
Glossopsitta porphyrocephala Rank: 219; Regent Parrot Polytelis anthopeplus
Rank: 192; Yellow Rosella Platycercus elegans flaveolus Rank: 179; Mallee
Ringneck Barnardius barnardi Rank: 188; Port Lincoln Ringneck Barnardius
zonarius Rank: 138; Red-capped Parrot Purpureicephalus spurius Rank: 196;
Swift Parrot Lathamus discolor Rank: 184; Turquoise Parrot Neophema
pulchella Rank: 202; Fischer's Lovebird Agapornis fischeri Rank: 208;
Peachface Lovebird Agapornis roseicollis Rank: 116; Rose-ringed Parakeet
Psittacula krameri Rank: 164. As well as these, there are several records of
hybrids of the Eastern and Crimson Rosella but these are not monitored
separately in the GBS. Note that the Yellow Rosella is counted as separate
from the conspecific Crimson Rosella, because the presence of that
sub-species is entirely separate from the naturally occurring Crimson
Glossy Black-Cockatoo Calyptorhynchus lathami
A rare species whose occurrence is characterised by many years of absence in
between periods when here, sometimes lasting several months. At those times
small groups appear at a few locations, notably Mt Majura, Mt Ainslie and to
the south of Canberra near Tharwa. It is the most specialised feeder of the
local parrots, feeding on Allocasuarina cones. There are only three GBS
records, comprising three observations of ten, one and three individuals in
Years 2, 3 & 15 at Sites 14, 65 & 232 respectively.
Rank: Rank: 181, A = 0.00030, F = 0.25%, W = 0.1, R = 0.006%, G = 4.80.
Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo Calyptorhynchus funereus
This is our largest parrot and a very conspicuous bird. It is common in the
forest areas (including pine forests) around Canberra. Interestingly, their
average group size of 12.50 is the highest for any parrot. This is because
there are many observations of even quite large flocks of up to 100 birds in
the GBS. Most records are from suburbs on the western side of the city where
the birds are noted moving to or from the ranges. There is a strong seasonal
trend with birds almost absent from October till February and numbers
increasing from March through to a peak in August. This probably relates to
breeding cycles when the birds are in the ranges breeding over summer. It is
in the late winter, that flocks congregate and move through the city. There
has been a marked increase in its abundance. There were none recorded in
Years 1, 6 or 9 and very few for the first ten years. Since then, the
numbers have increased significantly though not evenly.
Graphs on page: 93, Rank: 97, A = 0.08085, F = 8.04%, W = 8.4, R = 0.647%, G
Gang-gang Cockatoo Callocephalon fimbriatum
Well-known bird about Canberra, confiding and appealing, mostly an arboreal
species, typically in pairs or small groups of up to six birds. Generally
less conspicuous than other large parrots. It does not appear to be evenly
distributed, being more common in the inner suburbs that are close to
reserve areas such as Mt Ainslie and Black Mountain. It occurs, but far less
regularly in the outer and less developed suburbs. From a low of numbers in
December and January, rises steadily to a peak in April and May, then
declines again though is even from June to September. This is probably due
to partial altitudinal migration, with many birds going to the ranges to
breed, although some breed locally. Numbers were fairly evenly high from
1981 to 1986 then particularly low in 1987 to 1989. Then have slowly but
unevenly increased again to the highest level recorded for the species in
1998. Breeding records have also increased, first recorded in Year 5 then
most years since then. Most records are of dependent young. These can be at
any time of year, though most are from March to July.
Graphs on page: 93, Rank: 25, Breeding Rank: 27, A = 0.66000, F = 70.52%, W
= 51.8, R = 21.848%, G = 3.02.
Galah Cacatua roseicapilla
This is now one of our most familiar birds. It occurs in small to very large
flocks in all open habitats and suburbs. It will readily feed from seed
provided by people. From a low in September and October numbers increase
steadily to a high in June then decline steadily again. The annual amplitude
was especially high in the first two years and has now evened off a lot.
Records from early in Canberra's history show this species as a rare and
celebrated visitor to the region. In Year 17 it reached number one spot,
retaining it in Years 18 to 20. Numbers over the years had been mostly
stable, with an increase over the last six years. Always among the most
widespread of species. Breeding records have increased over the first few
years then fluctuated around a high level. First few observations of
inspecting hollows, nest building or copulation in late July but mostly
through August and September, activities at nest have finished by end of
November. First dependent young from mid October, though the great majority
of breeding records are of dependent young through summer and very few
further records after mid March.
Graphs on page: 94, Rank: 2, Breeding Rank: 8, A = 6.49478, F = 99.38%, W =
52.0, R = 77.968%, G = 8.33.
Long-billed Corella Cacatua tenuirostris
The status of this species is unclear, its natural range is far from our
area in south-west Victoria and south-east South Australia. There are
unexpected populations appearing in many areas. The two Corella species are
similar and confusable when observed at a distance. It is likely that the
individuals recorded are derived from escaped or released pet birds. The
eight records mostly comprise repeat observations of one or two widespread
in time and location but one observation in Year 11 at Site 148 is of 13
Rank: 147, A = 0.00074, F = 0.67%, W = 1.1, R = 0.048%, G = 1.55.
Little Corella Cacatua sanguinea
The status of this species is unclear, its natural range is semi-arid inland
Australia. There are unexpected populations appearing in many areas of
Australia, even coastal regions. The monthly pattern of abundance appears
quite smooth. This is suggestive of natural processes rather than random
escapes. The low in October is typical of the pattern shown by other
parrots. From October it increases smoothly to a peak in January then
declines. The January peak is unique among parrots. However any credence to
this result should wait until there is further evidence, as it is largely
based on few years. In recent years it has become quite widespread, occuring
at many sites. Sometimes in large flocks of up to 40 birds. One record of
birds inspecting hollow in Year 14 at Site 225.
Graphs on page: 94, Rank: 98, Breeding Rank: 70, A = 0.03869, F = 7.88%, W =
17.3, R = 1.083%, G = 3.57.
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo Cacatua galerita
Conspicuous, big, distinctive and noisy, this species readily inhabits
gardens and feeds from seed provided by people. Normally feeds on the ground
in large flocks. From a low in November it increases steadily to a high in
June-July then declines steadily again. Although the pattern is the same
every year, the amplitude shows quite a lot of variation. This is
particularly noticeable in that the summer lows have steadily increased,
whereas the winter peaks have become more variable. Numbers have risen
significantly, having more than quadrupled. Breeding records occur through
the year. Observations of inspecting hollows or birds at nests from August
to December. Most dependent young from mid December through to late in
autumn, though some even extend through to July.
Graphs on page: 94, Rank: 8, Breeding Rank: 18, A = 4.86531, F = 97.20%, W =
52.0, R = 66.519%, G = 7.31.
Cockatiel Nymphicus hollandicus
Natural occurrences of this species are rare in this region. Many records
are of escaped pets although their numbers peak in October, January and
February with few in winter. There is a marked contrast to the Budgerigar in
that many records involve a bird observed from the same site for several
weeks in succession, so this bird may be better able to survive release. One
observation in February of Year 6 at Site 152, of five birds flying in a
flock was almost certainly of genuine wild birds. The same may be true of
two observations of four birds and one of three.
Rank: 109, A = 0.00130, F = 2.54%, W = 2.7, R = 0.107%, G = 1.21.
Rainbow Lorikeet Trichoglossus haematodus
The pattern shown by this conspicuous and easily identified species is not
at all clear. This goes against the preliminary results of Veerman (1991a).
The trend described therein for Melbourne has held up but the increase
described for Canberra has not continued. There is a February to April peak
in numbers but when combined with staying fairly similar from July till
January, that does not suggest a natural seasonal pattern at this stage. The
monthly pattern is far from consistent. In some years the birds may be
passage migrants, nomads or randomly occurring from escaped or released
birds. Group size is small, up to ten birds noted. The numbers rose
dramatically from Years 5 to 8 but then declined. Most records are from the
Belconnen area, the north-west suburbs of Canberra. One record of birds
inspecting hollow in Year 16 at Site 241.
Graphs on page: 94, Rank: 101, Breeding Rank: 83, A = 0.01239, F = 6.57%, W
= 14.0, R = 0.648%, G = 1.91.
Little Lorikeet Glossopsitta pusilla
A small and active parrot that feeds in the eucalypt canopy. There are no
winter records and a clear December peak that suggests it is a summer
migrant. However the numbers are so low this is uncertain.
Rank: 123, A = 0.00090, F = 1.51%, W = 0.9, R = 0.039%, G = 2.32.
Australian King-Parrot Alisterus scapularis
The largest of the brightly coloured local parrots, it is common in the
ranges to the west of Canberra. Large numbers could be observed flying to
and from the Stromlo forest roost sites (these are now burned down). This
species has a very obvious seasonal pattern with a low in numbers in
December, rising dramatically to a high in June, then declining. The fact
that June abundance is higher than that of July (eleven months earlier), is
most likely due to the steady population increase of the species. Its
numbers have increased dramatically, with a greater than ten-fold increase
from Year 1 to 21, in a very smooth progression. The amplitude of the
monthly pattern appears to have increased basically in proportion to the
overall increase in numbers. It is hard to suggest why the increase in this
species was so dramatic. There is little room for observer bias or over or
under recording it. Maybe more people are providing food for parrots over
this period. Average group size (3 to 5) has stayed similar over the years.
In Year 1 it was only recorded on only 42 weeks, every year since it has
been recorded on 52 weeks, except one year of 51. In early years most
records were from inner suburban suburbs only. Since then, it has been
recorded at increasing proportion of sites and more outer suburban
locations. It still shows a preference for the inner suburbs and is not
often recorded from the outer, newer sites that have little vegetation.
Breeding records have increased (none in Years 1, 3, 4, 7, ten in Year 17).
The species probably breeds in forest, there are no GBS nest records. All
breeding records are of dependent young and the time span is narrow. First
few observations are in mid October with the great majority in January and
February, with the last isolated one in mid April.
Graphs on page: 94, Rank: 24, Breeding Rank: 16, A = 1.38662, F = 73.82%, W
= 51.5, R = 34.967%, G = 3.97.
Superb Parrot Polytelis swainsonii
Canberra is on the south eastern edge of the natural part of this bird's
range (Davey 1997), so it is not surprising that the majority of records are
from the north-western suburbs. It requires open woodland with grass
understorey. It has a very strong seasonal distribution pattern, with a
clear peak in the summer time. Only two observations during winter, both in
Year 21 in southern Canberra. There was even one observation of 30 birds in
January 1990 at Site 221.
Rank: 122, A = 0.00163, F = 1.60%, W = 1.7, R = 0.066%, G = 2.47.
Crimson Rosella Platycercus elegans
A very conspicuous bird, by its dramatic colours, noise and confiding
disposition. At home in any garden area and readily comes to seeds and fruit
trees. This species has minimum numbers in November and December rising
quickly to a peak in February. Then numbers stay stable until July before
dropping steadily to the November low. The amplitude is small but the
pattern is very regular. Like the Australian King-Parrot, this species has
increased, having doubled in numbers. The reasons for the increase are
likely to be similar but not actually known, most likely due to increased
food supply. Always recorded all weeks of the year and usually from all
sites each year. The proportion of observer-weeks in which it was observed
(R%) has also increased over the years. Indeed for six recent years it has
achieved among the highest recording rates of any species on any year, at
about R = 90%. The number of breeding records has varied randomly but there
is evidence of a real change in behaviour. For the first six years all
breeding records were of dependent young only. Since Year 7 there have been
regular records of adults on nests and inspecting hollows in the months
August to October. Dependent young records entirely contained within the
months of November to February, apart from rare early records in late
Graphs on page: 94, Rank: 4, Breeding Rank: 12, A = 2.91054, F = 98.79%, W =
52.0, R = 77.863%, G = 3.74.
Eastern Rosella Platycercus eximius
A conspicuous bird, by its bright colours, noise and confiding disposition.
At home in any garden area, it readily comes to seeds and fruit trees. It
feeds on grass seeds on the ground more than the Australian King-Parrot and
Crimson Rosella. It occurs in smaller groups than the Crimson Rosella. The
monthly pattern is similar to that of the Crimson Rosella but not so well
defined or consistent. Numbers are lowest in spring but only by a small
margin, this is probably related to breeding. Overall numbers of this
species have been remarkably constant, apart from a smooth undulation over
successive years. This is curious, in that if the provision of food by
people has been a factor, it could be expected that all three species would
have been affected similarly. This may be because the Eastern Rosella is an
inhabitant of open woodland and so the development of Canberra has not
affected it so much. Whereas the other two species are by preference forest
inhabitants and the initial clearing of land reduced their population and
subsequent revegetation as the city matured allowed them to increase. The
increase was most dramatic in the largest species, intermediate for the
middle one and non-occurring in this species and the smaller (next) species
has decreased. Breeding records appear to have been stable. Activity at nest
from mid August to mid December. Dependent young from mid October to mid
March though the majority are in January and February.
Graphs on page: 94, Rank: 10, Breeding Rank: 14, A = 1.48157, F = 96.53%, W
= 52.0, R = 57.693%, G = 2.57.
Red-rumped Parrot Psephotus haematonotus
A smaller and less conspicuous parrot than those above. The female is the
only well camouflaged parrot occurring locally. It tends to feed in small
flocks among rough grass and fly higher than the larger parrots, making it
less likely to be noticed. However, these attributes do not account for its
change in status. It shows a monthly pattern quite similar to that of the
other common parrots but is the least well defined or consistent of the
group. From low numbers in November, increases till February and stays
fairly consistent until May with a jump to June before declining through
springtime. The species appears to be in strong decline, so there may be a
basis for concern on its long-term trends but the evidence is confusing at
this stage. It could also be that the species just shows strong fluctuations
in numbers and has done so three times. It seems unlikely that the cause
would be increased competition with larger parrots consequent on their
status increase, as the niche overlap would be minimal. Provision of seed by
people may not have aided this species, which feeds mainly on seeding
grasses and herbs. Likely causes may be increased competition for nesting
sites by the Common Myna, which has not reduced numbers of the larger
parrots and increased competition for food by the Crested Pigeon. It may be
as simple as the species not adapting to the aging of suburbs and increased
vegetation around the sites that are being surveyed. It shows a preference
for a more rural open country type of landscape. It remains common in those
areas. Breeding records have declined dramatically, 13 in the first seven
years, compared with 4 in the last eleven years (one of which was just
copulation). Most are from sites close to reserve areas. Activities at nest
from mid September to late January. Dependent young from late October to
Graphs on page: 94, Rank: 37, Breeding Rank: 34, A = 0.40212, F = 39.94%, W
= 50.6, R = 8.895%, G = 4.52.
Budgerigar Melopsittacus undulatus
The occurrence of wild Budgerigars in our region is at best a remote
possibility and only feasible during severe drought. There is nothing to
suggest that any of these birds are other than escaped pets. As expected,
the monthly pattern shown is random, though with summer numbers much higher
than winter. All observations are of one or two birds (wild Budgerigars
typically occur in large flocks) and many chart comments mentioned that the
birds were not wild colour type (e.g. they were blue birds). Very few
observations are followed by another at the same site on the next week. So
most of these birds probably either wander at random, do not survive or are
recaptured. It is suspected that there may be some under-recording, as some
observers, recognising that birds found are escaped pets by their colour
pattern or behaviour, failed to record them. This is unfortunate because
this species provides a useful baseline for assessing the number of other
escaped pets. This species has been recorded most years (none in Years 17,
18, 19 or 21) and is the only pet with that distinction.
Rank: 107, A = 0.00124, F = 3.64%, W = 3.0, R = 0.117%, G = 1.06.
From: Birding-Aus On Behalf Of
Sent: Thursday, 4 June 2015 2:02 PM
To: Frank O'Connor
Subject: ADVERTISEMENT - Parrots per sq KM which state has
I would like to put forward my home block in Croydon, Vic as being up there.
I have recorded 11 species from my 450m2 house block in suburbia - Gang
Gang, Galah, Sulphur-crested, Long-billed Corella, Short-billed Corella,
Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo, King Parrot, Eastern and Crimson Rosellas,
Rainbow and Musk Lorikeets. On any day, I could see up to 8 of these :-)
Based on the km2 and extrapolating the species count, my total would be
24,444.44..... species per km2.
So who else is up there with that?
*Yours in all things* "*GREEN"*
*John Harris BASc, GDipEd*
*Director - Wildlife Experiences Pty Ltd*
*Past President, Field Naturalists Club of Victoria*
On 4 June 2015 at 12:58, Frank O'Connor <> wrote:
> The south west of Western Australia would be up there.
> Three black cockatoos, Galah, three corellas (two are feral), although
> Little Corella can be found as a native not too far away from Perth.
> Rainbow Lorikeet (feral) and Purple-crowned Lorikeet.
> Australian Ringneck, Western Rosella and Red-capped Parrot.
> Elegant Parrot and Rock Parrot.
> Regent Parrot.
> Mulga Parrot around the Wagin area.
> So 16 species including two or three ferals for a 4 or 5 day trip from
> Perth to Albany and back including Stirling Range NP, possibly Porongurup
> NP and Rocky Gully. It could be done as a 3 day trip if it was just a
> parrot twitch.
> Not quite the 25 for SA, but the SW is probably a smaller area, and not
> sure how you get 25 for SA. I guess that includes Gang Gang Cockatoo
> Rock Parrot (Eyre Pen.), Naretha Bluebonnet, Scarlet-chested Parrot,
> Princess Parrot (?), the ferals, etc? and therefore a much larger area.
> Major Mitchell's Cockatoo can be found within a day trip of Perth.
> Bourke's Parrot is possible within a long day trip of Perth to Payne's
> Find, but not reliably, and Budgerigar and Cockatiel would also be
> unreliable in the same area. A two or three day trip from Perth to the Cue
> area would almost certainly add Bourke's Parrot and guarantee Mulga
> and have very good chances of Budgerigar, Cockatiel, and Major Mitchell's
> Cockatoo (and a second sub species of Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo that could
> be split one day), and the second sub species of Western Corella.
> I don't count Western Ground Parrot as that is extremely difficult to
> find, and not something you would allocate that much time to finding
> 3 days! and still only a small chance of seeing it).
> Frank O'Connor Birding WA
> Phone : (08) 9386 5694 Email :
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