The Mulga Parrots (Psephotus varius) are also commonly called Many-colored Parrots. The name “mulga” comes from their preferred vegetation type, while their common name is derived from the male’s colorful plumage.
They are endemic to the arid mulga scrublands and lightly timbered grasslands in the interior of southern Australia. They can also be found along treed river banks. They are usually seen in family groups and are quite confiding.
These parrots average 27 – 28 cm or 10.8 – 11 inches in length (from beak to tip of tail). They weigh between 50 – 70g or 1.75-2.5 oz).
His plumage is mostly green with some colorful highlights. The upperside is a brilliant green and the lower breast is a paler green. The abdomen and thighs are yellow variably marked orange-red.
The forehead is yellow. There is a distinctive red patch to the crown. The under tail-coverts are greenish-yellow. The inner lesser wing-coverts, bend of wing, primary wing feathers, under wing-coverts and outer webs of primaries (longest wing feathers) are violet-blue. The outer lesser wing-coverts are yellow. The median wing-coverts are bluish-green. The outer secondary flight feathers (shorter, upper “arm” feathers) are green with broad violet-blue edging. The lower back and upper tail-coverts are green with variable red markings and yellowish-green band with adjoining bluish line above. The upperside of the central tail-feathers is dark blue washed with green. The outer tail-feathers are blue with white tips. The tail underside is bluish with white tips.
The bill is blackish. They have a narrow grey periophthalmic ring. The irises are brown and the feet grey.
The female is duller and has red patches on her shoulder. Her forehead is dull orange-yellow. The crown has a dull red patch. The median wing-coverts are dull red. Other than those highlights, her plumage is mainly olive-grey. Her crown, back and wings are greenish-olive. Her breast is brownish-green. Her abdomen and under tail-coverts are bluish-green. The underside of her wings feature a pale wing-stripe. The bill is brownish-grey.
Immature birds have a much duller plumage than the adults and can be sexed accurately while still in the nest. Young males have less red to their abdomen. Young females have pale green outer lesser wing coverts with a red edge. They attain the adult plumage when they are 4 to 6 months old and reach sexual maturity at 12 – 14 months.
Breeding / Nesting:
These parrots reach sexual maturity when they are between 12 to 15 months old.
In Australia, Mulga Parrots breed between the months of July and December, though they may nest at other times as well. The nests are usually built low in the hollows of trees, as well as in stumps, fallen logs, or taller tree near water course. These parrots may also take advantage of existing nests of other birds.
The average clutch consists of 4 to 7 white eggs with an incubation period of 19 to 20 days. Both female and male share in the incubation duties and raising of the chicks. The young will fledge after approximately four weeks, though they will often stay with their parents much longer, usually until the next breeding season.
Aviculture: The Mulga Parrot is common captivity. Though it is growing less common in the wild, this species is not uncommon in the pet trade. This may be due to its ease of breeding, although these parrots may not be recommended for the novice breeder. Some experience is recommended as well as planning as far as set-up is concerned.
In the United States, the breeding season usually begins in March.
It is best to keep only one pair per aviary due to the aggressive nature of this species, particularly during the breeding season.If pairs are housed in flights side by side, double wiring between the flights are recommended to minimize the risk of injury. The recommended aviary size is, at a minimum: 6 ft (1.8 m) x 9 ft (2.7 m) x 7 ft (2.1 m). The dimensions of the nest box can vary widely. The parents may prefer the type of boxes they themselves were raised in. In many cases, it is recommended to offer different sizes and types of logs or nest-boxes, and place them in various locations within the aviary, to allow parents to choose their preferred box and location. Once they have made their choice, the other boxes / logs can be removed.
It is important that the nest box be kept warm, as the female will stop brooding early, and if they are breeding in cold areas, the chicks may not survive. These parrots may be bred as often as twice a year.
Diet / Feeding
Their natural diet consists of various grass and plant seeds, plants, fruits (including berries), greens and vegetables.
Calls / Vocalizations
They make soft and twittering contact calls that are repeated rapidly three or four times. While perching a soft, musical chattering can be heard.
Genus: Scientific: Psephotus … English: Red-backed Parakeets … Dutch: Roodrugparkieten … German: Singsittiche … French: Perruche chantant
Species: Scientific: Psephotus varius … English: Mulga Parrot, Manycolor Parakeet … Dutch: Regenboogparkiet, Veelkleurige Parkiet … German: Vielfarbensittich … French: Perruche mulga