Greater Bluebonnet


Bluebonnet (Northiella haematogaster)

Greater Bluebonnet 28 cm; 74–105 g. Forehead, lores, and face 

Greater Bluebonnet

Greater Bluebonnet

 

purplish blue; head, breast, mantle, back and rump ochre shading to yellow on belly which has large central red blotch; bend of wing blue with most wing-coverts olive, outermost purplish-blue; underwing-coverts and outer webs of flight-feathers purplish-blue; tail greenish bronze with outer feathers purplish blue-tipped white.

Greater Bluebonnet parrot

Greater Bluebonnet

 

Female possesses wing stripe. Immature-like female with smaller red belly patch. Race haematorrhous has a greenish turquoise bend of the wing, rufous-red wing-coverts, red from belly to vent; pallescens like nominate but paler below; narethae has blue forehead, buff flecks on breast, olive upperparts, belly yellow with red under tail-coverts, red outer lesser wing-coverts.

Systematics History

Editor’s Note: This article requires further editing work to merge existing content into the appropriate Subspecies sections. Please bear with us while this update takes place.

Bluebonnet (Northiella haematogaster)

Race haematorrhoa previously attributed erroneously to Gould. Race narethae may be an incipient species; this is also supported by differences in mitochondrial DNA. The remaining races intergrade to some extent. Four subspecies recognized.

Distribution

Editor’s Note: Additional distribution information for this taxon can be found in the ‘Subspecies’ article above. In the future we will develop a range-wide distribution article.

Habitat

Bluebonnet (Northiella haematogaster)

Arid and semi-arid open woodlands dominated by MyoporumCasuarinaCallitrisAcacia, and Eucalyptus, often with low chenopod shrub layer; also open grassy plains, arid scrub, trees bordering watercourses, sometimes near farm buildings, water troughs. Remnant patches of mallee in cleared agricultural land are important in S of range.

Migration Overview

Bluebonnet (Northiella haematogaster)

Seasonal fluctuations in numbers of the race narethae appear to occur, suggesting local movements in response to food availability, but otherwise no evidence of movements.

Diet and Foraging

Bluebonnet (Northiella haematogaster)

Seeds of herbs, including Atriplex vesicarumKochia sedifoliaBassia and Amaranthus, fruit, berries and acacia blossoms; relatively little grass seed. Race narethae recorded taking seeds of various Acacia, also Heterodendron oleifoliumDanthonia caespitosaHelipterumSonchus oleraceus and the mistletoes Amyema quandong and Lyiana exocarp, and Lepidoptera larvae extracted from acacia trunks; reported also to prefer seeds of composites, mainly Helipterum, when feeding young.

Sounds and Vocal Behavior

Bluebonnet (Northiella haematogaster)

The commonest call is a harsh emphatic “chack” or “chak-a-chack”, typically repeated in loose series. When perched also more melodious plaintive nasal notes.

Breeding

Bluebonnet (Northiella haematogaster)

Jul–Dec, with some variation depending on rains, and evidence of two seasons following good rainfall. Nest in hollow in the tree; narethae often uses very stunted trees, finding the nest-site at ground level in a fissure in the tree base, with western myall (Acacia papyrocarpa) a favoured species. Eggs  4–7; incubation lasts 19 days; nestling period c. 30 days.

Conservation Status

Bluebonnet (Northiella haematogaster)

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. Fairly common except at the edges of the range. Clearance of native vegetation in Victoria needs to be halted to preserve shelter and nest-sites, but the spread of European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) into these habitats may result in parrots being excluded from nest-holes anyway. Race narethae suffers from illegal trapping, involving the cutting-out of nest cavities, which destroys the future potential of the site and therefore reduces the species’s overall reproductive capacity; moreover, rabbit grazing may have been preventing regeneration of favored nest tree species.


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