Rockies and Elegants
We have two species of Grass Parrots that can be most easily seen in the dunes or on the grassed areas around the Wilson Inlet and William Bay. They are the Rock Parrot and the Elegant Parrot, spotting them can be difficult and distinguishing the two can be challenging! Listening for their calls can be the best way to detect them; they both make fairly high-pitched “tzitting” sounds which are more rapid when in flight.
The Rock Parrot is not seen as frequently as the Elegant Parrot and has generally duller plumage. It is confined to the coast, most often encountered on the edge of the dunes, but this is by no means diagnostic as the Elegant is also encountered in this habitat, especially on the eastern side of Prawn Rock Island and in the dunes on the eastern edge of the Sandbar. Both species feed on the yellow flowers and seeds of the silver-leaved “Dune Cabbage” as well as grass seeds.
Both the male and female Rock Parrots have dull-blue lores (between the eye and the bill), the male having a more vivid blue band on its forehead. The ends of the wings (all of the primary feathers) are blue; the rest of the bird is olive-green, turning to yellow-green on its belly, sometimes with a pale orange patch. It breeds in crevices among rocks, often on offshore islands, where it lays about 4-eggs, which are incubated and brooded by the female. During the non-breeding period it returns to the mainland where it often forms small flocks varying in numbers from a few birds to several dozen birds.
The Elegant Parrot as implied is more brightly coloured, with bright yellow lores and darker blue banding on the forehead. It can be found in open woodland inland, in the Stirling Ranges for example, where it nests in tree hollows. They lay up to 7-eggs, once again incubated by the female and also form small groups outside the breeding season.