Overview

Distribution

Bourke's parrots are found in the interior regions of central and southern Australia (Harper, 1986). They range from southwestern Queensland to the very western edge of New South Wales to the northern part of South Australia and the eastern and central parts of Western Australia.

Biogeographic Regions: australian (Native )

  • Immelmann, K. 1968. Australian Parakeets. Wittemberg/Belgium: A. Ziemsen Verlag/ A.O.B.
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Range

Locally in Acacia scrub of interior of s Australia.
  • Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2014. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: Version 6.9. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/

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Physical Description

Morphology

Bourke's Parrots are 18 cm (Simpson and Day, 1999) to as much as 23 cm long (Macdonald, 1973). Tail length is approximately 9 cm. They weigh approximately 42 to 49 g (Stuckey, 2000). The male parrot has a salmon pink throat and foreneck. The center of the breast and abdomen is a rosey-pink. Pale blue coloration is present under the wing coverts and on the marginal coverts around the bend of the wing. The wing primaries are dark blue, while the central tail feathers are blue with bluish-white to white outer edges and tips. The frontal band which extends over the eyes to the neck is blue. The crown and hind neck are brown with pink-colored highlights. The back, innermost wing secondaries, rump and upper tail coverts are dark brown. Under the tail and on the flanks the coloration is blue. Overall, males and females are similar in coloration with one exception. In males, the frontal band is pronounced, and in females it is reduced or absent (Harper, 1986; Simpson and Day, 1999). Females are slightly smaller than males (Harper, 1986).

Range mass: 42 to 49 g.

Range length: 18 to 23 cm.

Sexual Dimorphism: male larger; sexes colored or patterned differently

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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These parrots frequent small shrubby and sandy plains (Harper, 1986) as well as savannas of Australia. They may be found in clumps of mulga (Macdonald, 1973; Simpson and Day, 1999) and acacia scrub in dry spinifex plains (Eastman and Hunt, 1966).

Bourke's parrots may be found in gardens of Australian homes, looking for a drink of water (Immelmann, 1968).

Habitat Regions: tropical ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland ; scrub forest

Other Habitat Features: urban ; suburban

  • Eastman, W., A. Hunt. 1966. The Parrots of Australia: A Guide to Field Identification and Habits. Sydney: Angus and Robertson Ltd.
  • Harper, D. 1986. Pet Birds for Home and Garden. London: Salamander Books Ltd.
  • Macdonald, J. 1973. Birds of Australia: A Summary of Information. London: H.F. & G. Witherby Ltd.
  • Simpson, K., N. Day. 1999. Birds of Australia. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
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Trophic Strategy

Bourke's parrots feed early in the morning and at dusk. They arrive at watering holes a few hours prior to sunrise and a few hours after sunset (Harper, 1986). However, these parrots are not considered to be truly crepuscular. All of the birds in Australia's interior behave in the same way in order to avoid feeding during the hottest part of the day (Immelmann, 1968).

Bourke's parrots eat grass seeds, herbaceous plant seeds, acacia tree seeds and green shoots.

Plant Foods: leaves; seeds, grains, and nuts

Primary Diet: herbivore (Granivore )

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Associations

Because of their food habits, Bourke's parrots may contribute to seed dispersal. They may also contribute to the prevention of the growth of unwanted grass or other types of seeds.

Ecosystem Impact: disperses seeds

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Known predators of Bourke's parrots include foxes (Family Canidae) and feral cats (Felis silvestris).

Known Predators:

  • foxes (Canidae)
  • feral cats (Felis silvestris)

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Known predators

Neopsephotus bourkii is prey of:
Canidae
Felis silvestris

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Bourke's parrots utter a call that has been described as a soft twitter (Simpson and Day, 1986; Simpson and Day, 1999). They may utter a "chu-wee" while in flight or a warbling whistle (Macdonald, 1973) or "chirrup chirrup" call (Stuckey, 2000). When alarmed, Bourke's parrots may utter a "kik-kik kik-kik" call (Stuckey, 2000). These birds are generally quiet and docile (Immelmann, 1968).

Communication Channels: acoustic

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

  • Simpson, K., N. Day. 1986. The Birds of Australia. Wolfeboro, NH: Tanager Books.
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Life Expectancy

The lifespan of Bourke's parrots is probably similar to the budgerigar, around five to eight years while in captivity. Their lifespan in the wild is shorter.

Average lifespan

Status: captivity:
12.6 years.

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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 12.6 years (captivity) Observations: One specimen lived 12.6 years in captivity (Brouwer et al. 2000).
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Reproduction

Bourke's parrots are monogamous. Males will guard their territories during the nesting period. They will also feed the female with regurgitated food when she is incubating the eggs (Eastman and Hunt, 1966).

In captivity, the male will display to the female by walking around her, curtsying, and drawing himself upward in a tall posture. Sometimes, the male will raise his wings over his back to show the blue coloration underneath (Hill, 1967).

Mating System: monogamous

The breeding season for Bourke's parrots is from August to October (Eastman and Hunt, 1966; Harper, 1986) and possibly to December (Macdonald, 1973), depending on rainfall (Macdonald, 1973; Harper, 1986).

The nest is usually in a hollow limb or hole in mulga or acacia trees (Eastman and Hunt, 1966) around one to three meters off the ground (Hill, 1976). There is no nest lining in the hole (Immelmann, 1968). The three to six eggs per clutch (Eastman and Hunt, 1966) are white and rounded (Harper, 1986). Incubation time is approximately 17 (Eastman and Hunt, 1966) to 20 days (Harper, 1986). The chicks fledge after about 4 weeks and become independent in 8 to 10 days after fledging.

Breeding season: August to October (sometimes to December)

Range eggs per season: 3 to 6.

Range time to hatching: 17 to 20 days.

Average fledging age: 4 weeks.

Range time to independence: 8 to 10 days.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization (Internal ); oviparous

The female incubates the eggs (Eastman and Hunt, 1966). She leaves the nest only to drink water or defecate. The male feeds her with regurgitated food while she attends to the eggs. Both parents feed the altricial young (Immelmann, 1968).

The young leave the nest after approximately four weeks (Immelmann, 1968; Harper, 1986). After another eight to ten days of parental feeding, the chicks are independent (Immelmann, 1968). The chicks have smoky-colored down on blackish skin (Eastman and Hunt, 1966). Adult colored plumage is evident in four to six week old birds (Stuckey, 2000).

Parental Investment: no parental involvement; altricial ; pre-fertilization; pre-hatching/birth (Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Male, Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Male, Female)

  • Eastman, W., A. Hunt. 1966. The Parrots of Australia: A Guide to Field Identification and Habits. Sydney: Angus and Robertson Ltd.
  • Harper, D. 1986. Pet Birds for Home and Garden. London: Salamander Books Ltd.
  • Hill, R. 1967. Australian Birds. Melbourne: Thomas Nelson Ltd.
  • Immelmann, K. 1968. Australian Parakeets. Wittemberg/Belgium: A. Ziemsen Verlag/ A.O.B.
  • Macdonald, J. 1973. Birds of Australia: A Summary of Information. London: H.F. & G. Witherby Ltd.
  • Stuckey, P. 2000. "The Parrot Society of Australia, New South Wales, Inc., Bourkes Parakeet Review" (On-line). Accessed July 25, 2002 at http://ausbird.hypermart.net/bourkes_parakeet_review.htm.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Neophema bourkii

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


No available public DNA sequences.

Download FASTA File
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Neophema bourkii

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 5
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Contributor/s

Justification
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be increasing, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

History
  • Least Concern (LC)
  • Least Concern (LC)
  • Least Concern (LC)
  • Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
  • Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
  • Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
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