The Australian Ringneck (Barnardius zonarius) is a parrot native to all mainland Australian states. Four sub-species have been identified. Side-by-side comparison of the Australian Ringneck Races.
- Mallee Ringnecks and Conclurry Parrots are found in arid eastern Northern Territory, north-western Queensland and inland eastern Australia.
- Port Lincoln and Twenty-eight Parrots are found central and western arid Australia.
Ringnecks are generally absent from coastal areas in the eastern states, although escaped pets / feral populations may be found around Sydney and the Central Coast of New South Wales and the Tablelands.
Australian Ringnecks are typically found in pairs (during the breeding seaon) or small flocks (outside the breeding season) over lightly timbered areas, open woodlands and tree-lined watercourses. Seasonal movements are possible depending on availability of food and suitable nesting sites.
However, they are mainly resident or sedentary provided the area needs their needs. Like most parrot species, Australian Ringneck are active during the day, typically foraging for food early in the morning and late afternoon, and will settle down at their favored roosting place for the night.
Conservation Status and Related Laws / Regulations:
As of this time, this species is not considered threatened as of this time, as this species has adapted well to all conditions – except for extreme tropical and highland areas.
However, in Western Australia, the Ringneck competes for nesting space with the Rainbow Lorikeet. To protect the Australian Ringneck, the Rainbow Lorikeet – an introduced species that is considered a pest species in Western Australia – is subject to eradication in the wild.
For conservation purposes, in Western Australia, a license is required to keep or sell / dispose of more than four Port Lincoln Ringnecks. The sale of the Cloncurry Parrot is restricted in Queensland.
This medium-sized species averages 33 cm or 11 inches in length (including the tail).
The subspecies differ considerably in coloration. However, their basic color is green, and all four subspecies have the characteristic yellow ring around the hindneck. The wings and tails are a mixture of green and blue.
For a species side-by-side comparison, ranges and identification, please visit this webpage.
Breeding / Nesting
Breeding season for the Northern populations starts in June or July, while the central and southern populations breed from August to February but this can be delayed when climatic conditions are unfavorable.
Australian Ringnecks lay their eggs in hollows in living or dead trees, entering through a hole in the trunk, a knothole or a spout.
The typical clutch consists of four or five white oval eggs, measuring 29 mm x 23 mm.
The female incubates the eggs while being fed by the male and she may leave the nest for a short time to be fed by the male.
The young are fed by both parents and often can be seen at the mouth of the hollow.
Diet / Feeding
Australian Ringnecks feed mainly on the ground, but also in trees and shrubs, usually in the morning and late afternoon, resting in the heat of the day.
This species eats a wide range of foods that include nectar, insects and their larvae, seeds, fruit, and native and introduced bulbs. It will eat orchard-grown fruit, and are sometimes seen as a pest by farmers. They often feed on spilt grain on roadsides.
Ringneck Parrots are generally hardy birds. However, the following diseases have been reported in this species:
- Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (causes feather loss and beak deformities; and a high nestling mortality rate)
- Aspergillosis (fungal disease)
- Bacterial infections (pneumonia)
- Hypovitaminosis A
Australian Ringneck Sub-species
Currently, four subspecies of Australian Ringneck are recognized, all of which have a distinct range and have been described as distinct species in the past. However, as of 1993, the Twenty-eight and Conclurry Parrot were treated as subspecies of the Port Lincoln Parrot and the Mallee Ringneck, respectively.
Some authorities consider the Port Lincoln and Mallee Ringneck Parrots as one, as these two species readily interbred at the contact zone. Also, some authorities, including Ferdinand Bauer, place this species in the genus Platycercus – Rosellas.
Several other subspecies have been described, but are considered synonyms with one of the above subspecies. B. z. occidentalis has been synomised with B. z. zonarius. Intermediates exist between all subspecies except for between B. z. zonarius and B. z. macgillivrayi.
|Port Lincoln Parrot or Port Lincoln Ringneck Barnardius z. zonarius aka Platycercus zonarius – Shaw, 1805||Mallee Ringneck Parrots / Barnard’s Parakeets Paler Mallee Ringneck Parrots Barnardius zonarius barnardi – Vigors and Horsfield, 1827|
|Range: Common from Port Lincoln in the south east to Alice Springs in the north east, and from the Karri and Tingle forests of South Western Australia up to the Pilbara district.||Range: Inhabits New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria.|
|Description: Dull black head. Back, rump and wings are brilliant green. The throat and breast are bluish-green.||Description: Bright green crown and nape (back of the neck) and blush cheek-patches. Prominent red frontal band (over the beak). The underparts of the Mallee Ringneck are turquoise-green with an irregular orange-yellow band across the abdomen. The back and mantle are deep blackish-blue.|
|Similar Species: Looks similar to the Twenty Eight Parrot. The difference between these two is that the Port Lincoln has a yellow abdomen while the Twenty Eight Parrot has a green abdomen. Also, the Twenty Eight Parrot has a prominent red frontal band. The other subspecies have bright green crowns and napes (lower back of the neck) and blush cheek-patches.|
|Calls: Port Lincolns have a high, clear repeated whistle call. Also soft chattering when perched / roosting.||Calls: Contact call described as piping. Their alarm call is harsh and metallic. In flight makes a disyllabic series of notes. Also soft chattering when perched / roosting.|
|Twenty Eight Parrot – named in imitation of its distinctive ‘twentee-eight’ call Barnardius zonarius semitorquatus – Quoy and Gaimard, 1830||Cloncurry Parrot Barnardius zonarius macgillivrayi, formerly Platycercus barnardi macgillivray – North, 1900|
|Range: Found in the south western forests of coastal and subcoastal Western Australia.||Range: Found from the Lake Eyre basin in the Northern Territory to the North gulf of Queensland in Australia.|
|Description: Has a dull black head. The back, rump and wings are brilliant green. The throat and breast are bluish-green.||Description: Plumage generally pale green, with a uniform pale yellow band across the abdomen.|
|Similar Species ID: Looks similar to the Port Lincoln Parrot; except the Port Lincoln has a yellow abdomen while the Twenty Eight Parrot has a green abdomen. Also, the Twenty Eight Parrot has also a prominent red frontal band. The other subspecies have bright green crowns and napes (lower back of the neck) and blush cheek-patches.||Similar Species ID: Looks similar to the Mallee Ringneck; however, the Cloncurry Parrot has a yellow and the plumage is a lighter green color. Also, it lacks the red band that can be seen in the Mallee Ringneck.|
|Calls: Makes a distinctive ‘twentee-eight’ call. Also soft chattering when perched / roosting.||Calls: Calls described as “ringing” sounds. Also soft chattering when perched / roosting.|