Margaret Clarke | Red-rumped Parrots common in open habitats, grassy woodlands

Red-rumped Parrots, are medium sized, quite slender birds found in South East Australia and Victoria and are also known as Red-backed Parrots or Grass Parrots.

They were first described by John Gould in 1838.

They are common in open habitats, grassy woodlands, treed farmland and eucalypts lining roads or watercourses, sports fields or parklands – they are rarely seen too far from water.

They are also spotted on the grassy edge of roads, which makes them very susceptible to being killed by cars.

Adult males are bright green, with a bluish head, re rump and yellow shoulder and belly.

The females, as is often the case are a much duller olive-green, with a green rump and tail and faint yellowish scale pattern on the belly. The young of both sexes are also duller in colour.

The reference to them being called Grass Parrots is based on the fact that they feed almost exclusively on the ground, eating seeds and leaves of various grasses, flowers and fruit.

To reach the seed-heads on taller grasses they have been observed perching on the stem of the plant until their weight bends the stem to the ground.

Their green plumage is such a good camouflage in ankle-length grass, that they can hide very effectively until you are quite close to them.

Red-rumped Parrots feed in pairs or small family flocks and may reach quite large numbers over the winter.

They are gregarious while feeding and softly call to each other. It is also not uncommon to see them in the company of other seed-eating species while eating, such as Eastern Rosellas and Galahs 

Red-rumped Parrots mate for life and breed between August and January.

The female chooses and prepares the nest in a tree hollow, fence post or an artificial nest box.

Four to six eggs are laid on a bed of decayed wood and incubated solely by the female bird.

During this time, she is regularly fed by the male bird coming out of the hollow for food.

Artificial nest boxes are now regularly placed in trees around new estates and in urban parks.

This is an attempt to replace the hollows only available in old trees, some of them 200 years old, that are cleared to make room for humans.

Recently I came across one of these artificial boxes, my attention drawn to it by the squabbling noises and the sight of three pairs of Red-rumped Parrots and some Rainbow Lorikeets fighting over this man-made real estate.  I think the Red-rumps won.