Nothing like a good scratch

Australian Ringneck parrot

Mallee Ringnecks, a sub-species of the Australian Ringneck parrot, is a resident breeding species on our 5 acre block in Murray Bridge, South Australia. We see them every day, and they bring great delight to when we see their bright colourful feathers lit by the sunlight.

On the other hand, we are not delighted when they chew on our pears before they are ripe. Next week we are planning to cover the fruit trees with bird netting to avoid having angry humans. This might end up in having a few angry birds hanging around.

A few days ago I photographed two of our local birds preening their feathers in the early morning sunshine.

There’s nothing quite like a good scratch.

Australian Ringneck parrot

Australian Ringneck parrot

A puzzling parrot

Colour variations in Australian Ringnecks (ssp Mallee Ringneck)

We have a small flock of about 6 Mallee Ringnecks resident in our garden. We see them every day and they have breed successfully nearby. The Mallee Ringneck is a race of the Australian Ringneck and is found in areas which contain predominantly mallee tree habitat. Our 5 acre block is half covered in mallee trees, so they probably feel quite at home.

In recent weeks I’ve been aware that one of them has some interesting colour variations. In the photo above, the bird on the left has a much darker head than normal, plus more yellow on the chest and blue cheek feathers rather than green. Throughout the broad range of the Australian Ringneck there is considerable colour variation.

The Western Ringneck (also called the Port Lincoln Parrot) has a particularly dark head – it’s black in fact. Port Lincoln Parrots have been recorded in the Adelaide metropolitan region, but it is suspected that they were aviary escapes or releases. I’m not claiming that this bird is of the race, Port Lincoln Parrot, but I suspect it may have escaped from someone’s cage as they are a common aviary bird. Another possibility is that it is the progeny of cross breeding between a Mallee and a Port Lincoln Parrot, thus accounting for the washed out grey head rather than a black one. Both races interbreed readily in the Flinders Ranges where their ranges overlap.

The photo below shows a close up view of the same bird. The third photo shows the normal colours of the Mallee Ringneck.

I’d be very interested in reader’s comments.

Australian Ringneck, Murray Bridge

Mallee Ringneck Parrot

Mallee Ringneck Parrots

Over recent days I’ve been aware of several Mallee Ringneck parrots getting around in our garden. The Mallee Ringneck is one of the sub-species of the Australian Ringneck. I’ve heard them calling quite a deal over recent times and have seen them on a few occasions as the glide their way through the mallee trees in our garden.

Mallee Ringneck Parrot

Mallee Ringneck Parrot


On several occasions we have observed a pair being pursued by two or three juveniles, so they must have bred somewhere nearby. Earlier this week I saw two of them investigate a hollow in one of the old mallee trees near our garage. I have seen them inspecting this potential nesting hollow on other occasions with no result, so I won’t be holding my breath this time either.


Today two Mallee Ringnecks came down to the birdbath while we were having lunch. Even though they have visited the birdbath before – assuming it is the same individuals – they were still very cautious. They both carefully sidled along a nearby branch before settling on the rim of the water container and having a drink. No bathing today and they only stayed long enough for a drink. This meant I was only able to take several photos before they flew off.


The correct name for our ringnecks is the Australian Ringneck, but there are several distinct sub-species. The one in Western Australia is variously called the Port Lincoln Parrot, Western Ringneck or the Twenty-Eight Parrot (its call sounds like it is saying 28, 28). It has a much darker head than the eastern variations. The main sub-species in S.A., Victoria and N.S.W. is the Mallee Ringneck and there is another variation in Queensland known locally as the Cloncurry Ringneck.

These days they are regarded as one species; the fact that they are able to interbreed naturally with fertile offspring is the determining factor.

It is great to have such a beautiful bird in the garden.

For another article about this species click on this link

This article updated on 7th October 2015.