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Alisterus scapularis

Alisterus scapularis, male , Photo: Michael Lahanas

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Cladus: Unikonta
Cladus: Opisthokonta
Cladus: Holozoa
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Superphylum: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Megaclassis: Osteichthyes
Cladus: Sarcopterygii
Cladus: Rhipidistia
Cladus: Tetrapodomorpha
Cladus: Eotetrapodiformes
Cladus: Elpistostegalia
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Cladus: Reptiliomorpha
Cladus: Amniota
Classis: Reptilia
Cladus: Eureptilia
Cladus: Romeriida
Subclassis: Diapsida
Cladus: Sauria
Infraclassis: Archosauromorpha
Cladus: Crurotarsi
Divisio: Archosauria
Cladus: Avemetatarsalia
Cladus: Ornithodira
Subtaxon: Dinosauromorpha
Cladus: Dinosauriformes
Cladus: Dracohors
Cladus: Dinosauria
Ordo: Saurischia
Cladus: Eusaurischia
Subordo: Theropoda
Cladus: Neotheropoda
Cladus: Averostra
Cladus: Tetanurae
Cladus: Avetheropoda
Cladus: Coelurosauria
Cladus: Tyrannoraptora
Cladus: Maniraptoromorpha
Cladus: Maniraptoriformes
Cladus: Maniraptora
Cladus: Pennaraptora
Cladus: Paraves
Cladus: Eumaniraptora
Cladus: Avialae
Infraclassis: Aves
Cladus: Euavialae
Cladus: Avebrevicauda
Cladus: Pygostylia
Cladus: Ornithothoraces
Cladus: Ornithuromorpha
Cladus: Carinatae
Parvclassis: Neornithes
Cohors: Neognathae
Cladus: Neoaves
Cladus: Telluraves
Cladus: Australaves
Ordo: Psittaciformes

Familia: Psittaculidae
Subfamilia: Psittaculinae
Tribus: Psittaculini
Genus: Alisterus
Species: Alisterus scapularis

Alisterus scapularis (Lichtenstein, 1818)

Zool.Mus.Univ.Berlin p.29

Vernacular names
English: Australian King Parrot
français: Perruche royale
русский: Австралийский королевский попугай

The Australian king parrot (Alisterus scapularis) is a species of parrot endemic to eastern Australia ranging from Cooktown in Queensland to Port Campbell in Victoria. Found in humid and heavily forested upland regions of the eastern portion of the continent, including eucalyptus wooded areas in and directly adjacent to subtropical and temperate rainforest. They feed on fruits and seeds gathered from trees or on the ground.


The Australian king parrot was first described by the German naturalist Martin Lichtenstein in 1818 as Psittacus scapularis. The species belongs to the genus Alisterus, whose three members are also known as king parrots. The species are sometimes allied to the genus Aprosmictus.

Two subspecies are recognised,[3] which are differentiated by size:[4]

A. s. minor (Mathews, 1911)
A. s. scapularis (Lichtenstein, 1816)

Naturally-occurring hybrids with the red-winged parrot (Aprosmictus erythropterus) have been recorded from Bell in southeastern Queensland.[5]

"Australian king parrot" has been designated the official name by the International Ornithologists' Union (IOC).[6]
Male showing extensive blue rump

Adults of both sexes are about 43 cm (17 in) in length, including the long, broad tail. The adult male has a red head, breast, and lower undersides, with a blue band on the back of the neck between the red above and green on the back, the wings are green and each has a pale green shoulder band, the tail is green, and the rump is blue. The male has a reddish-orange upper mandible with a black tip, a black lower mandible with an orange base, and yellow irises. The plumage of the female is very different from the male having a green head and breast, a grey beak, and the pale shoulder band is small or absent. Juveniles of both sexes have brown irises and a yellowish beak, and otherwise resemble the female.[4]

The two subspecies are A. s. minor, found at the northern limit of the species range and is similar in appearance to the nominate subspecies but smaller,[4] typically about 5 cm (2 in) smaller in length.

On those rare individuals which have areas without melanin, feathers are orange to yellow.[7] Such a bird can look startingly different from the more common scarlet and green variety.
Distribution and habitat

Australian king parrots range from north and central Queensland to southern Victoria. They are frequently seen in small groups with various species of rosella. Further from their normal eastern upland habitat, they are also found in Canberra during winter, the outer western suburbs and north shore of Sydney, and the Carnarvon Gorge in central Queensland.[1]

In their native Australia, king parrots are occasionally bred in aviaries and kept as calm and relatively quiet household pets if hand-raised. They tend to be selective in their choice of seeds they eat and tend not to ingest small seeds in pre-packaged retail bags. They are relatively unknown outside Australia. As pets, they have limited "talking" ability and normally prefer not to be handled, but they do bond readily to people and can be very devoted. Life expectancy in the wild is unknown, but some pets have been known to live up to 25 years.

BirdLife International (2016). "Alisterus scapularis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2016: e.T22685046A93056658. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22685046A93056658.en. Retrieved 12 November 2021.
Australian Biological Resources Study (1 March 2012). "Subspecies Alisterus scapularis scapularis (Lichtenstein, 1816)". Australian Faunal Directory. Canberra, Australian Capital Territory: Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, Australian Government. Retrieved 25 October 2021.
"Zoological Nomenclature Resource: Psittaciformes (Version 9.024)". 2009-05-30.
Forshaw, Joseph M. (2006). Parrots of the World; an Identification Guide. Illustrated by Frank Knight. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-09251-6. plate 49.
Seton, Don; Seton, Bernice; Wilson, Malcolm; Wilson, Marjorie (2005). "A hybrid of Australian king-parrot 'Alisterus scapularis' and red-winged parrot 'Aprosmictus erythropterus' at bell". The Sunbird: Journal of the Queensland Ornithological Society. 35 (2): 1–3.
Gill, Frank; Donsker, David, eds. (2021). "Parrots & cockatoos". World Bird List Version 11.2. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 25 October 2021.

Simpson, Ken; Day, Nicolas & Trusler, Peter (2004). A Field Guide to the Birds of Australia (7th ed.). Penguin. p. 142. ISBN 0-670-04180-7.

Further reading

Australian Parrots, by Forshaw, Joseph M., Illustrated by Cooper, William T., 2002, Third (revised) Edition, Alexander Editions, ISBN 0-9581212-0-6
Photographic Field Guide Birds of Australia (second edition); ISBN 1-876334-78-9.
Field Guide to the Birds of Australia, 7th Edition, Simpson & Day.

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