Turquoise parrot

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The turquoise parrot (Neophema pulchella) is a species of parrot in the genus Neophema native to Eastern Australia, from southeastern Queensland, through New South Wales and into north-eastern Victoria. It was described by George Shaw in 1792. A small lightly-built parrot at around 20 cm (8 in) long and 40 g (1 1⁄2 oz) in weight, it exhibits sexual dimorphism. The male is predominantly green with more yellowish underparts and a bright turquoise blue face. Its wings are predominantly blue with red shoulders. The female is generally duller and paler, with a pale green breast and yellow belly, and lacks the red wing patch.

Found in grasslands and open woodlands dominated by Eucalyptus and Callitris species, the turquoise parrot feeds mainly on grasses and seeds and occasionally flowers, fruit and scale insects. It nests in hollows of gum trees. Much of its habitat has been altered and potential nesting sites lost. Predominantly sedentary, the turquoise parrot can be locally nomadic. Populations appear to be recovering from a crash in the early 20th century. The turquoise parrot has been kept in captivity since the 19th century, and several colour variants exist.

The turquoise parrot is found in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range and surrounding areas. The northern limit of its range is 26° south in southeastern Queensland, around Cooloola, Blackbutt and Chinchilla, extending westwards to the vicinity of St George. Before 1945, it had been recorded as far north as the Suttor River and Mackay. In New South Wales, it is found in a broad band across the central and eastern parts of the state, with its western limits delineated by Moree, Quambone, Hillston, Narrandera and Deniliquin. There have been unconfirmed sightings in the far west of the state. In Victoria it is found in the vicinity of Wangaratta as well as East Gippsland and around Mallacoota. Sightings in South Australia are likely to have been the scarlet-chested parrot, the similar appearance of the females leading to confusion and misidentification.

The turquoise parrot inhabits open woodland and savanna woodland composed either of native cypress (Callitris species) or eucalypts, particularly white box (Eucalyptus albens), yellow box (E. melliodora), Blakely’s red gum (E. blakelyi), red box (E. polyanthemos), red stringybark (E. macrorhyncha), bimble box (E. populnea), or mugga ironbark (E. sideroxylon), and less commonly Angophora near Sydney, silvertop ash forest (E. sieberi) in Nadgee Nature Reserve, and stands of river red gum (E. camaldulensis), mountain swamp gum (E. camphora) or western grey box (E. microcarpa) in flatter more open areas. Within this habitat, it prefers rocky ridges or gullies, or transitional areas between different habitats, such as between woodland and grassland or fields in cultivated areas.

The turquoise parrot is considered sedentary and does not migrate, though its movements are not well known. Birds are present in some areas all year, though in northern Victoria they are thought to move into more open areas outside the breeding season. Some populations may be locally nomadic, following availability of water. source

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