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Uncovering the Fascinating World of Bourke’s Parrot: Identifying Plumages Habits and Conservation Efforts

Bourkes Parrot is a beautiful bird that belongs to the Neophema genus. These lovely parrots are native to Australia and are also known as the Bourkes Grasskeet.

Bourkes Parrots are popular due to their friendly nature, which makes them ideal pets. In this article, we will delve deeper into the identification and different plumages of Bourkes Parrots.


Field Identification

Bourkes Parrot can be identified by their small-to-medium size and beautiful pastel colors. The males have a blue head, while the females have a grey head.

Their upperparts are sandy brown, while their underparts are light pink. These birds have a long, pointed tail with a black tip.

They are usually between 7.8 and 8.7 inches (20-22 cm) long, and weigh between 45-50 grams.

Similar Species

Bourkes Parrots are sometimes confused with the Turquoise Parrot due to their similar coloring. However, Turquoise Parrots have a turquoise blue coloration, and their tails aren’t as long as those of Bourkes Parrots.


Bourkes Parrot has two different plumages: the wild-type and the captive-bred mutations.

Wild-type Plumage

The wild-type plumage of Bourkes Parrot is their natural coloring, and it is mostly found in wild populations. The feathers on their upperparts are sandy or brownish-grey, while their underparts are light pink.

The legs, feet, and bill of Bourkes Parrot are grey and the males have a beautiful blue head.

Captive-bred Mutations

Captive-bred mutations of Bourkes Parrot are increasingly popular in the pet trade. Captive breeding has produced three different colorations of Bourkes Parrots; the

Rosy Bourke, the

Pink Bourke and the

Cream Bourke.

Rosy Bourke


Rosy Bourke mutation is a mix of pink, cream, and brown coloration. These birds have a pale pink head, creamy upperparts, and large pink patches on their chest.

Pink Bourke


Pink Bourke mutation has a warm, pastel pink hue. They have a pink body with a cream head, and their wing feathers are rosy pink.

Cream Bourke


Cream Bourke mutation is a creamy pastel color with a touch of silver on their upperparts. They have a creamy white head, which is paler than the Rosy and

Pink Bourkes.


Just like all parrots, Bourkes Parrots undergo molting processes, which is the process of shedding their old feathers in exchange for, new, more vibrant ones. Molting is usually triggered by seasonal changes such as winter to spring, and summer to autumn.

During molting, Bourke’s Parrots stock up on vitamins in their diets to re-grow feathers. Molting can affect the appearance of Bourkes Parrots, as it can cause them to look a bit disheveled until their new feathers grow in.


In conclusion, Bourke’s Parrot is a beautiful bird with lovely pastel colors and friendly nature. They are easily identifiable by their small to medium size, sandy brown upperparts, light pink underparts, and long, pointed tail with a black tip.

Bourkes Parrots also have different plumages, with wild-type and captive-bred mutations.The mutations include Rosy, Pink, and

Cream Bourke. This delicate bird is intriguing in its own right, with unique molting processes that help maintain its colorful plumage.

Systematics History

The study of systematics in Bourke’s Parrot, or the Neophema bourkii, began in the early 1800s when botanist Ferdinand von Mueller was given a specimen by an indigenous Australian. The specimen was later described by John Gould in 1841.

Since then, there have been several taxonomic revisions based on geographic variation, subspecies, and related species.

Geographic Variation

Bourke’s Parrot is a widespread species with diverse geographic variation. There are differences in size, shape, and coloration among the populations throughout its range.

Geographic variation can either be clinal or discontinuous. Clinal variation refers to gradual changes in characteristics across a geographic gradient, while discontinuous variation refers to abrupt changes between populations.


Based on geographic variation, there are currently three recognized subspecies of Bourke’s Parrot. 1.

N. b.

bourkii – This subspecies is found in the western half of the species’ range, from central Western Australia to northeastern South Australia. This subspecies is sometimes referred to as the “nominate” subspecies.

2. N.

b. subadelaidae – This subspecies is found in southeastern South Australia, ranging from the Eyre Peninsula to the Murray River.

This subspecies is sometimes referred to as the “Adelaide” subspecies. 3.

N. b.

hartogi – This subspecies is found on Dirk Hartog Island off the coast of Western Australia. This subspecies is sometimes referred to as the “Hartog” subspecies.

Related Species

Bourke’s Parrot belongs to the Genus Neophema, which includes several other species of grass parrot. These species are closely related and share many physical and behavioral characteristics.

However, each species has its own distinct range and plumage variation. The other members of the Neophema genus include the Scarlet-chested Parrot, Blue-winged Parrot, Elegant Parrot, Turquoise Parrot, and Rock Parrot.

Historical Changes to Distribution

The distribution of Bourke’s Parrot has changed significantly over time due to factors such as climate change, habitat loss, and the introduction of non-native species. Historical records indicate that Bourke’s Parrot was once found throughout most of central Australia, from Queensland to Western Australia.

However, today their range has become much smaller. The decline in their distribution has been attributed to several factors, including the clearing of native vegetation for agriculture, grazing, and mining.

In addition, competition for food and nesting sites with non-native species such as the European Starling and Common Myna has also impacted the species. Climate change may also be affecting their distribution, as Bourke’s Parrot requires a specific type of habitat for breeding and feeding.

Conservation Efforts

Due to their declining population, Bourke’s Parrot is listed as a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Several conservation efforts have been put in place to help protect the species.

One such effort includes the establishment of protected areas, such as the Dryandra Woodland in Western Australia, which provides a suitable habitat for the species. Other conservation measures include the provision of nest boxes and supplementary feeding programs to help increase their breeding productivity.

Education and awareness campaigns have also been launched to encourage landowners and the general public to protect native vegetation and prevent the spread of non-native species that threaten the habitat of Bourke’s Parrot. In conclusion, Bourke’s Parrot continues to be an important subject for systematics research due to the species diverse geographic variation, subspecies, and related species.

Efforts to conserve the species are necessary to ensure its survival in the wild. By protecting their habitat and raising awareness among the public, we can work towards preserving this beautiful species for generations to come.


Bourke’s Parrot is a ground-dwelling species that prefers to live in open, arid environments such as grasslands, shrublands, and woodlands. They are also found in areas with sandy soils and sparse vegetation, especially in semi-arid regions with annual rainfall ranging from 8-15 inches (200-400mm) per year.

In Western Australia, Bourke’s Parrot is associated with acacia shrublands and woodlands, while in South Australia, they are commonly found in areas with saltbush vegetation and mallee eucalypt woodlands. In some areas, such as the Murray-Darling Basin, Bourke’s Parrot is considered a habitat specialist, as they require specific habitats to survive.

Movements and Migration

Bourke’s Parrot is a non-migratory species, meaning they do not undertake seasonal movements or migrations. Instead, they are highly sedentary and have relatively small home ranges.

However, they will move around their local area to find food sources such as water, grass seeds, and nectar from flowering plants. Bourke’s Parrot is typically found in small family groups or flocks, and their movements are often associated with the availability of food and water.

During the breeding season, males will defend their territory and attract females with courtship displays that include wing-flapping, head-bobbing, and beak-clicking. Once a pair bond is established, the couple will usually remain together for life.

Although Bourke’s Parrot is a sedentary species, they have been known to disperse over short distances from their natal sites in search of food and nesting resources. Some studies suggest that some juvenile birds may disperse long distances to colonize new habitats.

This behavior has been observed in areas where suitable breeding habitat has been destroyed or reduced in quality, making it necessary for birds to move to new areas.

Breeding Habits

Bourke’s Parrot forms monogamous pair bonds that last for many years, with both parents contributing to the rearing of offspring. The breeding season typically occurs from September to January, depending on the region and climate conditions.

Due to their habitat requirements, Bourke’s Parrot often experiences low breeding success rates, as food and water resources can be scarce in some areas. The breeding habitat of Bourke’s Parrot is characterized by sparse vegetation, open spaces, and high visibility.

They breed in tree hollows or nest boxes, and both sexes are involved in nest construction. The female lays a clutch of 3-6 eggs, and both parents incubate the eggs for around 20 days.

After hatching, both parents feed and care for the chicks until they are ready to fledge, which typically occurs at around 5-6 weeks old.

Breeding success is often impacted by environmental factors such as rainfall and temperature, as this can impact the availability of food and water for the chicks. Nest box programs aimed at improving breeding success rates have been successfully implemented in some areas by providing artificial nest sites and supplementary feeding programs.


In conclusion, Bourke’s Parrot is a sedentary species that requires specific habitat conditions for breeding and feeding. While they may disperse over short distances, they do not undertake seasonal migrations.

The breeding habits of Bourke’s Parrot are characterized by monogamous pair bonds, with both parents involved in nest construction, incubation, and chick-rearing. Conserving the habitat of Bourke’s Parrot, particularly through the provision of suitable nesting sites and food resources, remains key to the survival of the species.

Diet and Foraging

Bourke’s Parrot feeds mainly on the ground, foraging for food in open or sparse vegetation areas. They are herbivorous and their diet is composed of mostly grass seeds, flowers, fruits, and nectar.

At times, they may also consume insects and their larvae.


Bourke’s Parrot is a generalist feeder, which means they feed on a wide variety of food sources. They have a specialized beak that allows them to crack seeds and break open plant material.

In the wild, they may feed in pairs or small groups, and during the breeding season, parents will bring food back to the nest to feed their chicks.


Bourke’s Parrot primarily feeds on grass seeds, with some studies suggesting that up to 98% of their diet may be composed of seeds, particularly those of grasses such as weeping grass, curly Mitchell grass, and speargrasses. They also feed on the nectar of flowering plants and may play an important role in pollination.

In times of drought or low food availability, they have been known to feed on fruits and various insects such as ants, termites, and caterpillars.

Metabolism and Temperature Regulation

Bourke’s Parrot is able to tolerate high temperatures in their arid habitat by regulating their internal body temperature. Birds have a high metabolic rate, which means they require more food than mammals of similar size.

This allows them to generate heat and maintain their body temperature, which is vital for living in their hot and unpredictable environment.

Sounds and Vocal


Bourke’s Parrot is not particularly known for its vocalizations, but they do have a range of calls that they use for communication and to warn of potential danger.


The call of Bourke’s Parrot is a soft, chirping or chattering sound that is often used to communicate between individuals in a flock or pair. The call is typically high-pitched and may be difficult to hear from a distance.

During the breeding season, males may use a specific call to attract females to their territory. Bourke’s Parrot also has a vocalization known as the “registration call.” This call is used by parents to identify their chicks and is thought to play a role in parent-offspring recognition.

The registration call is typically a soft, trill-like sound that can be heard within the breeding territory.


In conclusion, Bourke’s Parrot is a generalist herbivore that feeds on grass seeds, flowers, fruits, and nectar. They have a specialized beak that allows them to crack seeds and break open plant material.

Bourke’s Parrot is also able to regulate their internal temperature through a high metabolic rate that requires them to consume a significant amount of food. Their vocalizations are simple, but play an important role in communication between individuals in a flock or pair.

Overall, understanding the feeding and vocalization behavior of Bourke’s Parrot helps us understand their ecology and behavior in their natural habitat.


Bourke’s Parrot displays a range of behaviors that are typical of parrots. These behaviors include locomotion, self-maintenance, agonistic behavior, sexual behavior, and breeding.


Bourke’s Parrot is a ground-dwelling species, and as such, they spend most of their time moving along the ground in a slow and deliberate manner. In flight, they are agile and swift, able to fly high and fast for short periods of time.

During breeding season, males may perform courtship displays that involve flying and calling, as they show off their flight skills to potential mates.

Self Maintenance

Self-maintenance behaviors in Bourke’s Parrot include preening, which is the act of removing dust, dirt, and feather debris from their feathers. This behavior plays an important role in maintaining feather structure and insulation, as well as reducing the risk of parasites and disease.



Agonistic behavior in Bourke’s Parrot involves conflicts such as territorial defense, aggression towards intruders, and competition for resources. During breeding season, males may exhibit aggressive behavior towards other males to defend their territory and attract females.

This can involve chasing, calling, and physical attacks. Sexual


Sexual behavior in Bourke’s Parrot involves mate attraction, courtship, and copulation.

Males perform courtship displays that involve calling, wing-flapping, and beak-clicking, to attract females to their territory. After mating, both parents will typically be involved in nest construction, incubation of the eggs, and feeding and care of the chicks.


Bourke’s Parrot is a monogamous species and usually stays with their mate for life. They breed during the wet season, between September and January.

During the breeding season, males show off their flying and calling skills to attract females. Females use the male’s display as a way to assess the suitability of a mate.

Nests are typically located in tree hollows or artificial nest boxes. Both parents participate in the construction of the nest and feeding and care of the chicks.

After hatching, the chicks are fed and cared for by both parents until they are ready to fledge.

Demography and Populations

Bourke’s Parrot populations are declining due to habitat loss and other threats. However, there is a lack of data on population trends and demography, making it difficult to determine the size and health of the species.

Currently, Bourke’s Parrot is listed as a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Conservation efforts have been implemented to help protect the species, such as the establishment of protected areas and the provision of nest boxes and supplementary feeding programs to increase breeding success rates.

Research into population demographics and trends is necessary for effective conservation and management of the species. By developing an understanding of population health and distribution, conservationists can identify areas where interventions are needed to protect the species.

In conclusion, Bourke’s Parrot is an important species that exhibits a range of fascinating behaviors and ecological adaptations. Despite their declining populations, conservation efforts have been put in place to protect the species.

Understanding their feeding, vocalization, and locomotion behaviors, as well as their breeding habits, demography, and populations help us gain a better understanding of this unique and delicate species. By continuing to study and protect Bourke’s Parrot and their habitats, we can help ensure their survival in the wild and maintain their ecological significance for future generations.

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