Backyard Buddies
Australian Ringneck

Photo: julie burgher

Australian Ringneck

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The Australian Ringneck is a large parrot found only in Australia. There are four sub-species living in different areas – the Port Lincoln Ringneck, Mallee Ringneck, Twenty-eight Parrot and Cloncurry Parrot. There are several races within the sub-species, confused further by the tendency for different ringneck species to interbreed where their habitat zones crossover.

Although they vary in colouring, all ringnecks are green and blue with a yellow band across the back of their necks.

These parrots are no strangers to urban areas and are also a frequent sight in rural areas. They feed on seeds, flowers, insects, nectar and some fruits, mainly early in the morning and late afternoon. Like all Australians, they know it’s best to stay out of the midday heat - they rest in trees or dense shrubs while they wait for the day to cool down.

Ringnecks often forage for food on the ground, and unfortunately are often the victims of car strikes when feeding on spilt grain on the roads in country areas. They like fruit and will help themselves to orchard fruit so are often considered pests by farmers. They are very adept at using their feet like hands and can hold seeds and fruit with their toes while they eat.

You will most likely see Ringnecks in pairs or small flocks. They live in varied habitats, from forest and open woodlands to scrub, farmland and semi-arid desert areas.

They breed at different times of the year – northern Ringnecks in June and July and the southern populations from August. Like many native birds, their breeding season has varied over the past decade as climate change has affected traditional temperatures.

A hollow tree, dead or alive, is the Ringnecks’ choice of nesting site. No soft nest is built, and the eggs are laid on bare wood. The female lays four or five eggs in a hollow that they access through a hole in the trunk or knothole. The female stays with the eggs during the incubation period, and her partner brings her food. Once hatched, the chicks will poke their heads out of the hollow to have a look around and call frantically to their father for food.

Like most Australian parrots, Ringnecks are pretty hardy and have adapted well to changes in habitat and temperature. Their varied diet means they can usually find a food source and will travel to find food if they need to but prefer to stay near their favourite roosting trees. However, they do need tree hollows for breeding, and land clearing of old growth trees could potentially affect Ringneck numbers in the future.



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”Birds, bugs, lizards and penguins are my favourite Backyard Buddies – I like to find, watch and learn about what they do and what I can do to help them.“

Gus – 11 year old Backyard Buddy, NSW

Photo: OEH