Ian’s Bird of the Week – Australian King Parrot ~ Ian Montgomery

Newsletter – 7-31-14

Mea culpa again for the long delay since the last bird of the week. The good news is that, apart from dotting a few i’s, my current obsession Where to Find Birds in Northern Queensland is finished, so with luck you may get more frequent BotWs in the future. Here is an attractive and surprising omission from the BotW series, the Australian King Parrot. It’s one of the most spectacular Australian parrots and deserves the ‘King’ moniker. The French call it la Perruche royale.

It’s quite common along the eastern seaboard of Australia, with a preference for fairly dense coastal and highland forests including rainforest. That can make it hard to see but it’s quite vocal and the whistling call of the males is a very characteristic sound of eastern forest. It responds readily to being fed and can get quite tame. The one in the first photo was taken at O’Reilly’s in Lamington National Park, where the birds will perch on arms and shoulders and pose happily for photos. The males are distinguished from the females by the brilliant scarlet of the breast extending onto the head and having a conspicuou peppermint green blaze on the wings.

The females are gorgeous too with scarlet lower breast and belly, green heads and pinkish necks. The one in the second photo was busy exploring hollows in trees, but it was hard to imagine that she was contemplating nesting in May. Both sexes have blue backs, third photo, but this is usually hidden by the folded wings. The wing blaze may be missing or inconspicuous in females.

It’s usually just called the King Parrot in Australia and I used to wonder vaguely about the ‘Australian’ qualification. The reason for it is that is a Papuan one in New Guinea and a Moluccan one in western New Guinea and the islands of eastern Indonesia. Both these are rather similar to the Australian one, but smaller and differ mainly in the colour or lack of the blaze on the wings, and the amount of blue in the plumage.

There are two races of the Australian species. The larger nominate race occurs along most of the east coast, while the smaller race minor (obviously) occurs in northeastern Queensland. The literature doesn’t say much about minor except that it’s smaller, and there’s disagreement in the field guides about how far south it occurs: choose between Cardwell, Townsville and Mackay. I suspect Townsville is correct as there a big gap between the Paluma Range population and the Eungella/Clark Range one near Mackay. Anyway, the male in photo 4 and the female in photo 5 were photographed on the Atherton Tableland and are certainly minor.

It seemed to me from the photos that I took there that the northern males had brighter and more extensive blue hind collars and the females had brighter wing-blazes than southern birds. My sample size was small, but it might be an interesting project to check out whether these differences are consistent and to establish the exact geographical ranges of the subspecies. In northeastern Queensland it is mainly a highland species, with some movement to the lowlands in winter and I have seen them very occasionally near where I live.

Australian King-Parrot (I should have put hyphens in the photo captions)
Red-winged Parrot

Anyway, back to dotting i’s. The next stage in the book is to check out publishing via Apple iBooks, Google Play, etc. That’s something I know nothing about, so it will be interesting to find out how it’s done.


Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Tel 0411 602 737 ian@birdway.com.au
Bird Photos http://www.birdway.com.au/
Recorder Society http://www.nqrs.org.au

Lee’s Addition:

Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Timothy 1:17 KJV)

What beautifully created Parrots! They are just fantastic. Also, I was beginning to worry about Ian. It has been over a month since his last newsletter, Plum-headed Finches.

These parrots are members of the Psittacidae – Parrots Family. There are approximately 365 members, depending on whose list. The greatest diversity of parrots is in South America and Australasia.

Checkout all of Ian’s Parrot photos (around 50 species)

King Parrot at Wikipedia

Psittacidae – Parrots Family




“… and I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what ye shall do.” Exodus 4:15b

Behavioral researchers define teaching very specifically. First, of course, a teacher must have pupils. Then the teacher must be less efficient in doing whatever he is doing than he normally would be if he were alone, as a means of showing the pupils how to do the task. And finally, the pupils must learn the task more quickly than they would on their own.

Meerkats at the Auckland Zoo ©©Auckland_Zoo

Meerkats at the Auckland Zoo ©©Auckland_Zoo

Meerkats at the Auckland Zoo by that definition, humans, of course, are teachers. Among animals, only a species of ant meets this definition of teaching. But now researchers from the University of Cambridge in England say that meerkats also qualify as teachers. They found that experienced hunters will take young, inexperienced pups with them when they hunt. They will let the youngsters watch them as they catch prey. Of course, when they catch some small prey, the youngsters will vocally beg for a handout. However, only 35 percent of those handouts are served to the youngsters dead. The rest of the time they have to learn how to subdue the caught prey themselves. On the other hand, older, more experienced pups received already-killed handouts only 10 percent of the time. Further tests involving live and dead prey show that those given live prey could learn to subdue it in only three days.

Despite the researchers’ presupposition that teaching evolved, God is still the One that teaches the teachers.

Meerkat at LP Zoo by Lee

Meerkat at LP Zoo by Lee

Father, I pray that you would provide Your church with faithful teachers of the forgiveness we have in Jesus Christ. Amen.
Science News, 7/15/06, p. 36, S. Milius, “Live Prey for Dummies.” Photo: Meerkats at the Auckland Zoo. Courtesy of Ashleigh Thompson. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

©Creation Moments – Meerkat School, 2014.

Lee’s Additions:

Meerkat at LP Zoo by Lee

Meerkat at LP Zoo by Lee

I have always enjoy watching Meerkats and thought you might enjoy another Interesting Things blog. Lowry Park Zoo and other zoos keep them.



American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus) at Circle B by Lee

American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus) by Lee

The herds shall lie down in her midst, Every beast of the nation. Both the pelican and the bittern Shall lodge on the capitals of her pillars; Their voice shall sing in the windows; Desolation shall be at the threshold; For He will lay bare the cedar work. (Zephaniah 2:14 NKJV)

I enjoy “trying” to find bitterns. They can be right challenging because of the way the Lord designed them to be “hidden in plain view.” The American Bittern, at the top, landed right in front of us at Circle B last year. Otherwise, he would have blended right in and he would have been missed. Bitterns are also a Bird of the Bible.

American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus) by Bob-Nan

American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus) by Bob-Nan

Bitterns belong to the Ardeidae- Herons, Bitterns Family and most are well hidden while they search for food. “Bitterns are a classification of birds in the heron family, a family of wading birds. Species named bitterns tend to be the shorter-necked, often more secretive members of this family. Bitterns usually frequent reed beds and similar marshy areas, and feed on amphibians, reptiles, insects, and fish. Unlike the similar storks, ibises, and spoonbills, herons and bitterns fly with their necks retracted, not outstretched.” (Wikipedia)

Sunbitterns, which I added, are members of the Eurypygidae – Sunbittern Family. These comments from Woodland Park Zoo, show how their design helps hide them. “With its slow, deliberate walk on orange-colored legs and its long neck held parallel to the ground, the sunbittern resembles the sun-flecked forest interior. This spectacular frontal display is for threat or defense rather than courtship and is usually accompanied by a low hiss and bowing.”

“… they have vividly colored middle webs, which with wings fully spread show bright eyespots in red, yellow, and black. These are shown to other sunbitterns in courtship and threat displays, or used to startle potential predators. (Wikipedia)

This ability to hide brought to mind these verses:

Keep me as the apple of Your eye; Hide me under the shadow of Your wings, (Psalms 17:8 NKJV)

For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle; In the secret place of His tent He will hide me; He will lift me up on a rock. (Psalms 27:5 NASB)

Hide me from the secret counsel of evildoers, From the tumult of those who do iniquity, (Psalms 64:2 NASB)

Can anyone hide himself in secret places, So I shall not see him?” says the LORD; “Do I not fill heaven and earth?” says the LORD. (Jeremiah 23:24 NKJV)


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“Hide Thou Me” – ©Rejoice! by the Hyssongs




Red-tailed Laughingthrush (Trochalopteron milnei) and Black-throated Laughingthrush by Lee at Zoo Miami

Red-tailed Laughingthrush and Black-throated Laughingthrush by Lee at Zoo Miami

A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance; (Ecclesiastes 3:4 NKJV)

Blessed are you who hunger now, For you shall be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, For you shall laugh. (Luke 6:21 NKJV)

I trust you enjoyed seeing the Laughingthrush – Leiothrichidae family in the Sunday Inspiration – Laughingthrush article. From my first encounter with them, they have been a delight to watch. We have only seen them in Zoos, because they live in Southeast Asia and Indian Subcontinent.

(Black and White) Sumatran Laughingthrush (Garrulax bicolor) by Lee

(Black and White) Sumatran Laughingthrush (Garrulax bicolor) by Lee

The Laughingthrushes are the genus Garrulax and Trochalopteron of the Leiothrichidae family of passerine birds. They primarily occur in tropical Asia. These are rangy, medium-sized landbirds. These birds have strong legs and are quite terrestrial. This group is not strongly migratory, and most species have short rounded wings, and a weak flight.

A few, like the Streaked Laughingthrush occur in fairly open habitats, but most are jungle species, difficult to observe in the dense vegetation they prefer.

These are noisy birds, and the characteristic laughing calls are often the best indication that these birds are present. They frequently occur in groups of up to a dozen, and the rainforest species like the Ashy-headed Laughingthrush often occur in the mixed feeding flocks typical of tropical Asian jungle.

They are small to medium sized birds. They have strong legs, and many are quite terrestrial. They typically have generalised bills, similar to those of a thrush. Most have predominantly brown plumage, with minimal difference between the sexes, but many more brightly coloured species also exist. This group is not strongly migratory, and most species have short rounded wings, and a weak flight. They live in lightly wooded or scrubland environments, ranging from swamp to near-desert. They are primarily insectivorous, although many will also take berries, and the larger species will even eat small lizards and other vertebrates. (Wikipedia)

The Sumatran Laughingthrush (Garrulax bicolor), also known as the Black-and-white Laughingthrush, is a member of the Leiothrichidae family. It is endemic to highland forest on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, The laughingthrushes are a family of mostly Old World passerine birds. They are rather diverse in size and coloration. These are birds of tropical areas, with the greatest variety in Southeast Asia and the Indian Subcontinent. The entire family was previously included in the Timaliidae.


From the Life List of All Birds We Have Seen (Not up to date), here are the family members we have seen so far.

Laughingthrushes (Family Leiothrichidae)

White-crested Laughingthrush (Garrulax leucolophus) by Lee Miami WA

White-crested Laughingthrush (Garrulax leucolophus) by Lee Miami WA

FUN FACT – White-crested Laughing Thrushes are noisy, social birds who occasionally burst into loud calls that sound just like laughter. (National Aviary)

White-crested Laughingthrush (Garrulax leucolophus) MZ NA WA

Sumatran Laughingthrush (Garrulax bicolor) by Dan at  Wing of Asia ZM

Sumatran Laughingthrush (Garrulax bicolor) by Dan at Wing of Asia ZM

Sumatran Laughingthrush (Garrulax bicolor) WA by Dan

Blue-crowned Laughingthrush (Garrulax courtoisi) at Cincinnati Zoo by Lee

Blue-crowned Laughingthrush (Garrulax courtoisi) at Cincinnati Zoo by Lee



Black-throated Laughingthrush (Garrulax chinensis) ProofShot

Black-throated Laughingthrush (Garrulax chinensis) ProofShot – Zoo Miami by Lee

Black-throated Laughingthrush (Garrulax chinensis) WA by Lee

Spotted Laughingthrush (Garrulax ocellatus) WA

Chestnut-capped Laughingthrush (Garrulax mitratus) WA

(Spectacled) Red-winged Laughingthrush (Garrulax formosus) WA

Red-tailed Laughingthrush  by Dan at Wings of Asia Zoo Miami

Red-tailed Laughingthrush by Dan at Wings of Asia Zoo Miami

Red-tailed Laughingthrush (Trochalopteron milnei) WA by Dan

Red-faced Liocichla (Liocichla phoenicea) Proof shot by Lee Riverbanks Zoo

Red-faced Liocichla (Liocichla phoenicea) Proof shot by Lee Riverbanks Zoo

Red-faced Liocichla (Liocichla phoenicea) WA RZ by Lee

Red-billed Leiothrix (Leiothrix lutea) by Dan's Pix at National Aviary

Red-billed Leiothrix (Leiothrix lutea) by Dan’s Pix at National Aviary


Sunday Inspiration – Laughingthrush

Laughingthrushes (Family Leiothrichidae)

Life List of All Birds We Have Seen




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