Ground parrot – Pezoporus wallicus wallicus
Pezoporus wallicus wallicus
Intranational - naturally occurs in Queensland and interstate
The ground parrot lives in dry and moist shrub (Banksia/Leptospermum/Melaleuca) and graminoid (sedges/rushes/Xanthorrhoea) heathland, sedgeland (buttongrass), moorland and occasionally Banksia scrub or saltmarsh. In Queensland they inhabit lowland dry and wet heathland (0.25-1.5m high and composed of diverse shrubs, sedges and rushes), sedgeplain and sedgeland (excluding permanent waterbodies). They are rarely found in adjacent banksia (wallum), hakea or melaleuca shrubland/woodland with heath understorey. Ground parrots have a seasonal shift in microhabitat use from dry heath (late autumn - early summer) to wet heath (summer). Habitat suitability may be influenced by fire regime, particularly in heathlands. A mosaic of burning that allows movements between patches of different post-fire recovery is likely to be important to ensure the rapid recolonisation of recently burnt areas. (Forshaw 1981; McFarland 1991a,b; Bryant 1994; Higgins 1999).
Individuals have an average home range of 9 hectares, but there is considerable overlap between individuals (McFarland 1991a-d).
The ground parrot is bright green above and mottled with yellow and black bars/spots. It has black streaks on the crown and neck. The underparts are yellow and strongly barred in brown. They have a prominent yellow bar on the wings and a red band above the nostrils. The long tail is barred in green and yellow. The legs and toes are quite long. Males and females are alike in appearance and juveniles have a green bar above the nostrils. Ground parrots attain a size of 30cm. (Higgins 1999; Morcombe 2000; Simpson & Day 2004).
Ground parrots are almost entirely terrestrial and all roosts are in dry heath. They are diurnally active (active by daylight), but voluntary flights and calling is restricted to periods of 20-25 minutes pre-sunrise and post-sunset. Ground parrots can be solitary, in pairs or small flocks (usually of dispersing juveniles). Adults are sedentary but immature birds disperse in late summer and autumn and are capable of moving long distances. (Blakers et al. 1984; Meredith et al. 1984; McFarland 1991b,c; Courtney 1997; Higgins 1999).
The diet of ground parrots is primarily granivorous, feeding on seeds of a wide range (40+ species) of sedges, grasses, herbs and shrubs. Seeds that need processing to remove woody husks are not eaten by ground parrots. They also eat flowers, and insects may be ingested accidentally. (Forshaw 1981; McFarland 1991b; Gosper 1995; Higgins 1999).
Ground parrots reach sexual maturity at 2-3 years of age. Breeding takes place between August and December, however they may breed as early as July and as late as March. They lay between 2-5 eggs (average is 3-4) and there is a high rate of egg failure (infertility). Incubation lasts 21-24 days and fledging takes place at 18-28 days. One brood is raised per season. (Beruldsen 1980; Forshaw 1981; Storr 1984; McFarland 1991c,d; Courtney 1997; Higgins 1999).
Nests consist of a depression scratched in the ground, lined with woven leaves and stems. They are ususally built beneath dense vegetation in heath, at least 3-4 years post-fire in Queensland heath. (McFarland 1991c; Higgins 1999).
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Baker, J. & Whelan, R.J. (1994). Ground Parrots and fire at Barren Grounds, New South Wales: a long-term study and assessment of management implications. Emu 94, 300-304.
Beruldsen, G. (1980). A Field Guide to Nests and Eggs of Australian Birds. Rigby : Adelaide.
Blakers, M., Davies, S.J.J.F. & Reilly, P.N. (1984). The Atlas of Australian Birds. RAOU & Melbourne University Press : Melbourne.
Bryant, S.L. (1991). The Ground Parrot, Pezoporus wallicus, in Tasmania: Distribution, Density and Conservation Status. Wildlife Division Scientific Report 91/1, Department of Parks, Wildlife & Heritage, Tasmania : Hobart.
Burbidge, A.H., Blyth, J., Danks, A., Gillen, K. & Newbey, B. (1997). Interim Recovery Plan No. 6 - Western Ground Parrot Interim Recovery Plan 1996 to 1999. Department of Conservation and Land Management : Wanneroo, WA.
Forshaw, J.M. (1981). Australian Parrots. Landsdowne : Melbourne.
Garnett, S.T. & Crowley, G.M. (2000). The Action Plan for Australian Birds - 2000. Environment Australia : Canberra.
Gosper, D.G. (1995). Notes on the activities of Ground Parrots in northern NSW. Australian Birds 28, 57-64.
Higgins, P.J. (Ed.)(1999). Handbook of Australian, New Zealand & Antarctic Birds, Volume 4: Parrots to Dollarbird. Oxford University Press : Melbourne.
McFarland, D.C. (1991a). The biology of the Ground Parrot, Pezoporus wallicus, in Queensland. III. Distribution and abundance. Wildlife Research 18, 199-213.
McFarland, D.C. (1991b). The biology of the Ground Parrot, Pezoporus wallicus, in Queensland. I. Microhabitat use, activity cycle and diet. Wildlife Research 18, 169-184.
McFarland, D.C. (1991c). The biology of the Ground Parrot, Pezoporus wallicus, in Queensland. II. Spacing, calling and breeding behaviour. Wildlife Research 18, 185-197.
McFarland, D.C. (1991d). Flush behaviour, catchability and morphometrics of the Ground Parrot Pezoporus wallicus in south-eastern Queensland. Corella 15, 143-149.
Meredith, C.W., Gilmore, A.M. & Isles, A.C. (1984). The Ground Parrot (Pezoporus wallicus Kerr) in south-eastern Australia: a fire adapted species? Australian Journal of Ecology 9, 367-380.
Meredith, C.W. & Isles, A.C. (1980). A study of the Ground Parrot (Pezoporus wallicus) in Victoria. Publication No. 304, Environmental Studies Division of the Ministry for Conservation, Victoria : Melbourne.
Morcombe, M. (2000). Field guide to Australian birds. Steve Parish Publishing Pty Ltd, Archerfield.
Schodde, R. & Mason, I.J. (1997). Aves (Columbidae to Coraciidae). In: Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Vol. 37.2. (Eds Houston, W.W.K. & Wells, A.), pp. 1-440. CSIRO Publishing : Melbourne.
Simpson, K. & Day, N. (2004). Field guide to the birds of Australia (seventh edition). Penguin Group, Camberwell.
Storr, G.M. (1984). Revised List of Queensland Birds. Records of the Western Australian Museum. Suppl. No. 19, 1-189.
Parrot density at given site in Qld varies with vegetation type (greatest in mixed dry/wet heathland), time since and frequency of fire (peak at 5-8 yrs postfire, fire frequency > every three years), microhabitat diversity (community structure, diversity of seeding plants and seeding intensity), time of year (peak during breeding/immature dispersal) and proximity to source of recolonisers. Whether populations persist in old heaths (>15 yrs postfire) not satisfactorily resolved (McFarland 1991a; Baker & Whelan 1994; Baker in lit.).
Contributors: David McFarland 26/10/2007; Mellisa Mayhew 16/10/2008; Wayne Martin 17/11/2008.
This page should be cited as:
Ground parrot – Pezoporus wallicus wallicus, WetlandInfo, Department of Environment and Science, Queensland, viewed 20 January 2020, .