Christopher Taylor Bird Nature Wildlife Mammal Photography
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Superb Parrot Picture

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A juvenile in a pet shop. Note brown iris

The Superb Parrot, also known as Barraband's Parrot, Barraband's Parakeet, or Green Leek Parrot), (Polytelis swainsonii) is a parrot native to southeastern Australia. It is a monomorphic species and one of three species in the genus Polytelis.

The Superb Parrot is mostly green and about 40 cm (16 in) long with a long pointed tail. Adult males have continuous yellow plumage over the face, throat and neck, and a horizontal bright-red band across the upper chest.


First described by French naturalist Desmarest in 1826, the Superb Parrot, a monomorphic species, is one of three species in the genus Polytelis of long-tailed parrots. Common names include Superb Parrot and, in avicultural circles, Barraband's Parrot or Parakeet, or Green Leek (although the last is applied to several unrelated species). Its closest relative is the Regent Parrot.


The Superb Parrot is a medium-sized bright green parrot, approximately 40 cm (16 in) long, with long tail feathers, yellow-green below and yellow-orange irises. The adult male has a scarlet band upper chest, bright yellow face and throat. The adult female has a pale blue-green face, greyish-green throat, a variable tinged russet-pink fore-throat, and orange thighs. Juveniles have brown irises and otherwise resemble females. The male has adult coloured plumage at the age of about one year.

Distribution and habitat

An Australian endemic, the Superb Parrot is restricted to the dry (sclerophyll) woodlands of New South Wales and Victoria. There is estimated to be 6500 adult individuals in the wild.


It nests on hollow limb or a hole in a tree. The diet consists mainly of eucalypt flowers, fruits, nectar and pollen. It consumes seeds and green heads of the Yellow Box (Eucalyptus melliodora).

Conservation Status


Due to ongoing habitat loss in Australia, small population size and limited range, the Superb Parrot is evaluated as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It is listed on Appendix II of CITES.


Superb Parrots are listed as vulnerable on the Australian Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. Their conservation status also varies from state to state within Australia; for example, the Superb Parrot is listed as threatened on the Victorian Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act (1988). Under this Act, an Action Statement for the recovery and future management of this species has been prepared.

Threatening processes

During February-June 2005, "accidental" logging in the Barmah State Forest destroyed 60 per cent of the nesting colonies of the Superb Parrot (6000 tonnes of river red gums): with fewer than 150 breeding in Victoria this has severely compromised their chances of survival.

In December 2008, dozens of reports were filed of Superb Parrots being hit by cars. NPWS wildlife officials speculated that the parrots had gorged on grain spilled from an uncovered truck and became unable to move, eventually being hit by automobiles.


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