A couple of concealed birds were calling from a thickly-leaved tree. I was walking slowly towards them, when I suddenly realised that my stalking was about to disturb some quieter birds on the ground below. They were a small group of Red-rumped Parrots (Psephotus haematonotus), feeding on the fallen fruit under the tree.
I’ve never been able to get very close to red-rumps before, so I ignored the noisy birds in the tree and edged closer to the parrots. There were half a dozen of them, loosely separated into male/female pairs, but these two males were briefly aligned:
A third male gave me a clear view of why they are called red-rumped, although only the males have this red patch.
The females look sombre next to the gaudy males, but seen in isolation, they are quietly pretty little birds clad in a range of grey and green shades, with blue edging on wings and tail.
I also liked the gentle reticulated patterning of the feathers on their heads.
The males also have this some of this reticulated effect, which seems to be caused by each feather’s barbs and barbules standing out against a darker background.
I took more photos as the parrots continued to feed quietly, occasionally chattering or warbling to one another. There was one minor squawking episode from this female, but it quickly quietened down.
However her little outburst reminded me to have another check on the noisy birds still concealed in the tree above. One of them showed itself briefly before they flew off – it turned out to be an Australasian Figbird (Specotheres vieilloti).
With the figbirds gone, I went off to get my lunch, leaving the parrots to linger quietly over theirs.
Red-rumped Parrots are medium-small parrots, weighing around 70 grams (compared with say an Eastern Rosella at 90-125 grams). They are common in SE Australia, at least outside the city centres. They prefer open habitats with grass - they feed on the ground – but with some woodland for shelter and breeding as they nest in tree hollows and other similar spots. Their diet consists of grass seeds and the green tips of some plants.
Australasian Figbirds are larger (100-150 grams) birds in the oriole family. They are found mostly along the eastern edge of Australia, where like the red-rumps they are common. They are gradually extending their range southwards, reaching Sydney 70 years ago, and are now found in eastern Victoria. As their name implies, they feed mostly on fruit, especially figs.