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Not a misnomer

May 25, 2017

Australian King-Parrot (male)

Australian King-Parrot (female)

For many years after moving to the King Parrot Valley, we never saw a King Parrot, or Australian King-Parrot as it’s officially named. And records kept by John Hatchell-Brown Snr., a long-term resident of Flowerdale, confirm the rarity of KPs – he recorded only one sighting between 1937 and 1968. John Jnr., a keen birder who now lives at Strath Creek, has no recollection of seeing a King Parrot in Flowerdale as a child.

We surmised that Hume and Hovell, who named the King Parrot Creek when they crossed it on their epic journey in 1824, may have misidentified the birds they saw – perhaps they were young Crimson Rosellas, we thought, birds that are common in the valley today. The explorers birding skills, or lack thereof, may have matched their questionable navigation skills – after all, they thought they had reached Westernport Bay when in fact they were at Corio Bay, almost 100 km to the east!

Anyway, that was until the early 2000s, when we became aware of a few reports of King Parrots turning up in the valley. We recorded our first visitor in September 2003 and have had intermittent visits ever since, like the superb male shown above that landed in a nectarine tree in our garden a few days ago. Numbers of KPs are now regularly seen or heard around Strath Creek and Flowerdale. No doubt they have been encouraged by the supplementary feed left out by some residents, but it is fair to assume that the extensive revegetation, encouraged by Landcare, that has occurred in the last 25 years or so, especially along the creek banks, is a significant factor in the return of King Parrots to the eponymous valley. They are, after all, essentially a bird of forested habitats, as well as being opportunists.

So, apologies to Hume and Hovell, their naming of the creek was most likely quite appropriate, or at least it is now.

Their most common call is a series of high-pitched whistles, a recording of which can be heard by clicking on the audio below. They also make a harsher contact call in flight that we’ve not yet managed to record.

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