Scarlet chested Parrot
PO  Box 126 Mitcham Vic 3132 ( Victoria, Australia )

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. scarlet chested parrot
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  • An Australian Parrot
  • Scientific Name: Neophema splendida
  • Sub Species in country / area of origin: None
  • Origin / Distribution: Southern inland Australia including parts of Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria, New south Wales and Queensland.
  • Habitat In Wild: Well adapted to the drier arid areas. They are nomadic birds.
  • Status In Wild: Secure, but numbers can vary significantly depending on seasonal environmental conditions.
  • Status In (Australian) Captivity: Common, but pure "normal" colour are becoming harder to find.
  • Age To Sexual Maturity: about 8 - 12 months
  • Adult plumage: attained after the first moult at about 4 - 6 months. The second moult results in a more intense feather colour at about 18 months.
  • Best breeding years (estimate): 2nd year onwards
  • Lifespan (estimate): approx. 10 or more years
  • Sexing: Monomorphic / Dimorphic
  • Mutations: Many
  • Availability: Common. Pet shops & bird dealers. Pure "normal" coloured birds are becoming harder to acquire. Pure normal colour birds very attractive birds.
  • Temperament: Good beginners bird. Generally prolific breeders with multiple clutches per year. Quiet birds that can be kept in a mixed collection, however they will hybridize with other Neophemas.  Safe to keep with the Bourke's parrots.
  • Cost (Victoria) Per Pair: - Normal colour (Approx) $60
  • Description Of Adults: Smallest of the Neophemas.  One of the most attractive of all the Australian parrots.
  1. Length: Approx. 200 mm (or approx. 8 inches)
  2. Colour ( "normal" colour ): Refer photo/s above if available.
  3. Weight: Approx 40 gms (or approx 1.5 ozs)

The Scarlet-chested parrot is a member of the genus Neophema, which include the Blue winged parrot, Elegant parrot, Rock parrot, Turquoise parrot, and the Orange bellied parrot.  These are commonly called "Grass parrots".  The Bourke's parrot has recently been removed from the Neophema genus and placed in a genus of their own.

Aviary Notes:

Level Of Knowledge Required:  Beginner / Intermediate / Advanced / Specialist Breeders Only.

Government Regulations & By-Laws:  Refer to " Government Laws " web page.

Housing Requirements:  Refer to " Housing Birds " web page for general details on the housing of Australian Parrots or read on for specific details for this parrot.

Suitable bird for those with smaller aviaries and are generally not destructive to the timber of aviary frames.  They will chew on plants within the aviary.  The Scarlet chested parrot is generally non-aggressive and can be housed with other non-aggressive parrot species, finches and some of the dove species.

They can be housed in a large aviary as a colony, but it is also housed and bred successfully in a small aviary as a single pair.  Best results are usually achieved as one pair per aviary.

The Neophema parrot is easy to house and will accept and breed in a cage of about 1200mm long , 600mm high and 600mm wide (4 x 2 x 2 feet through to a standard parrot aviary.
An aviary of at least 2 metres (7 feet) long is preferred.  An aviary of about 3 metres long (10 feet) is ideal.  Aviary should be about 900 mm wide (3 feet) and 2100 mm high (7 feet).
Birds housed in a cage or suspended cage during the breeding season should be allowed access to an aviary during the non-breeding season for adequate exercise and to regain a good level of fitness.

Because they will hybridize with other the Neophemas, they must not be housed with any of the other Neophema species. May be housed with the Bourke's parrot.

Birds bred to produce specific colour mutations need to be housed as one pair per aviary.

Scarlet-chested parrots spend a lot of time on the floor so additional care should be given to maintaining a dry, clean floor.

Non-toxic leafy branches, such as eucalypts, can be placed in the aviary for the birds to chew up. This will entertain the birds, help minimize boredom and give the birds some beak exercise. Natural branches of various diameters, and placed at various angles, can be used for perches. These natural perches may be chewed by the birds and may need to be replaced regularly. The birds may chew any flowers and fruiting bodies on the branches.

Diet / Feeding:  Refer to " Feeding Birds " web page for general details on the feeding of Australian Parrots or read on for specific details for this parrot.

In the wild the natural foods of the Scarlet chested parrot are seeds from grasses and herbaceous plants. Seasonally available fruits, blossoms, fruit and flower buds, and various plant and vegetable matter balance the nutritional intake.  Insects may form part of their natural food intake.

In the aviary these birds need a quality "small parrot mix" or "budgie seed mix" supplemented with plain canary seed and small amount of sunflower seed.  Seeding grasses along with some leafy green vegetables such as silverbeet, spinach or endive.  A variety of fruits e.g. apple, pear, orange and a variety of seasonally available vegetables should be offered as part of their daily food intake.  Sprouted or soaked seed can be offered.

Some birds will consume insects such as mealworms, especially if they have young in the nest.  The mealworm larvae, pupa and beetle can be offered.  The insects provide a good source of easily digested protein.  Neophemas housed with finches, softbills or other insect eating birds will often copy the other tenants and eat insects.

Commercial parrot pellets may form part of a balanced food intake.

Nesting: A basic overview only. Dimensions are typical / average and can vary widely, influenced by the owner's preferences and the birds preferences. Parent bird's preferences can also be influenced by the size and type of nest-box / log in which the bird was hatched and reared. If space allows, offering a choice of sizes and types of logs or nest-boxes, and placed in various locations within the aviary, can allow the parent birds to make their own choice. Once a pair has chosen a specific nest-box/log and been successful in it, offer that one to them each breeding season. Try and keep that one for their exclusive use. Once a pair has chosen its log or nest-box, the other ones can generally be removed. If the "spare" boxes are to be removed and moved to another flight, ensure the log / nest box is cleaned to ensure the receptacle has the minimal contamination of mites, parasites and pathogens.

All Australian parrots will breed in hollow logs.

  • Nesting months:  August to December or longer if conditions are suitable.
  • Log / Nest-box:
    • Length / depth  400 - 500 mm (or approx. 16 - 18 inches)
    • Log internal diameter approx. 150 - 200 mm. (or approx. 6 - 8 inches)
    • Nest-box internal dimensions approx. 150- 200  x  150 - 200 mm square (or approx. 6 - 8 x 6 - 8 inches square)
    • Diameter of entrance hole approx 55 - 65 mm (or approx  2.2 - 2.5 inches)
    • Inspection hole (square or round) 100mm (or approx.  4 inches)
    • A removable top / lid can be a useful access point for inspections and for cleaning.
    • Location & height of log / nest-box = in a sheltered part of the aviary and at about 1.5 - 1.8 metres height, but not too close to the roof to cause heat problems in the hotter months.
    • Angle of log or nest box = 45 degrees through to vertical.
    • Nesting log / nest-box material: Decomposed non-toxic saw dust, wood shavings or other suitable material/s.  The hen may carry small pieces of grasses or leaves into the nest to use as nesting material. 
  • Who incubates the egg/s: Hen / cock / both share.

Timber nest-boxes generally require a climbing structure attached inside the box below the entrance hole. Both logs and nests need an entrance hole/opening about 100 mm (about 4 inches) from the top. Many species of parrots like the entrance hole to be just big enough to squeeze through.

More details on parrot nestboxes/logs and a selection of parrot nestbox/log photos can be found on the "nests", "parrot nests" and "parrot nestbox photos" web pages.  Click on "Up" then "Nests" then "parrot nests" and "parrot nestbox photos" in the navigation bars.

Breeding: Egg Colour White.  Clutch/s per year 2 or 3.  Eggs per nest 3 - 6.  Incubation approx. 18 days.  Fledge approx 4 weeks.  Independent approx. another 3 - 4 weeks.

Good beginners bird. Generally prolific breeders with multiple clutches per year.  Usually very good parents.  The young fully independent birds are usually removed from the parents aviary so the adults can start another clutch.  The adult cock bird may become aggressive to the young birds.

The wild birds inhabit sparsely populated areas of Australia's interior and as a result there is little published about the breeding and feeding habits of the wild birds.

The first records of birds being bred in captivity are around the 1930's.  These were bred from wild caught birds.  The scarlet chested parrot has made spectacular progress and is now a common bird in aviculture.  Many mutations are now available but care must be taken to ensure beautiful pure "normal" colour breeding birds are maintained.  The pure normal colour is still the best, most colourful bird.

In an aviary, the young birds just after they leave the nest are often "clumsy" fliers and may crash into the front wire wall. The placement of hessian on the outer side of the wire wall or leafy branches close to the wire inside the cage should minimize the risk of injury of a young bird. The young bird should see the hessian or leafy branches and not fly into the end of the aviary.
The Neophemas may breed before the age of 12 months, but it is preferable to let the birds fully mature prior to commencing breeding.  Hens that start at or after 12 months of age are usually better mothers and more reliable.  The hens usually have a longer breeding life if they are 12 or more months of age prior to starting to breed.  Cock birds are often prevented from mating till they are about 18 months of age.  This usually allows cock birds to fully sexually and physically mature and usually prevents the first clutches of eggs being "clear".  The slightly older cock birds are usually more reliable and better parents.
As with many other species of birds, the productivity of colour mutation birds, is much less than the "normal" colour birds.  The productivity is typically about half that of normal colour birds.
The young can have a numbered closed metal leg ring placed on their leg to identify them throughout their life.  This will be essential to identify birds that have colour mutations or "split" for a colour mutation.  A closed ring should allow the purchaser to obtain the breeding pedigree of that specific bird.  Closed metal leg rings can help improve the fertility of a specific line of birds by breeding from the most prolific or most reliable birds.

Artificial incubation and hand rearing or fostering will not be covered on this web site. It is too complex and diverse in nature to be attempted here.

Health Issues: Refer to "Avian Health Issues" web page for information and references.

  • Worming and parasite control and Quarantine requirements of new bird/s or sick bird/s are considered to require veterinary advice and therefore not covered on this web site. Refer "Avian Health Issues" web page option.
  • Avian medicine is advancing at a rapid pace. Keep updating your knowledge and skills.

General References:  Refer to references listed on "Book References" web page.

Specific References:

  • Australian Aviculture
  • A/A Vol 56 No. 10 Oct 2002 Page 209-210
  • A/A Vol 52 No. 10 Oct 1998 Page 220-224
  • A/A Vol 50 No. 9 Sept 1996 Page 202
  • A/A Vol 50 No. 8 Aug 1996 Page 177-182
  • A/A Vol 48 No. 3 Mar 1994 Page 64-70 (Inc photo)
  • A/A Vol 41 No. 12 Dec 1987 Page 316-318
  • A/A Vol 41 No. 4 Apr 1987 Page 88-90 (Inc photo - Par blue)
  • A/A Vol 40 No. 12 Dec 1986 Page 306-308 (Red bellied)
  • A/A Vol 40 No. 7 Jul 1986 Page 157-158
  • A/A Vol 40 No. 7 Jul 1986 Page 175-176
  • A/A Vol 40 No. 3 Mar 1986 Page 53-54
  • A/A Vol 39 No. 3 Mar 1985 Page 54-55
  • A/A Vol 38 No. 5 May 1984 Page 103-107
  • A/A Vol 32 No. 12 Dec 1978 Page 188-190
  • A/A Vol 32 No. 2 Feb 1978 Page 28-29
  • A/A Vol 30 No. 4 Apr 1976 Page 56-61
  • A/A Vol 28 No. 8 Aug 1974 Page 124-127
  • A/A Vol 22 No 12 Dec 1968 Page 182-187 (Inc photo).
  • A/A Vol 21 No. 10 Oct 1967 Page132-133.
  • A/A Vol 21 No 5 May 1967 Page 72-74.
  • A/A Vol 20 No 8 Aug 1966 Page 113-116 (Inc colour plates).
  • A/A Vol 18 No 4 Apr 1964 Page 60-64.
  • A/A Vol 14 No 6 Jun 1960 Page 86-87.
  • A/A Vol 14 No 1 Jan 1960 Page 1-3, 15 (Inc colour plate).
  • A/A Vol 12 No 12 Dec 1958 Page 153-161.
  • A/A Vol 12 No 11 Nov 1958 Page 145-147.
  • A/A Vol 10 No 9 Sept 1956 Page 104-106.
  • A/A Vol  9 No 12 Dec 1955 Page 140.
  • A/A Vol  8 No 11 Nov 1954 Page 128-130.
  • A/A Vol  6 No 5 May 1952 Page 56.
  • A/A Vol  6 No 1 Jan 1952 Page 11-12.
  • A/A Vol  4 No 4 Apr 1950 Page 44.
  • A/A Vol  3 No 10 Oct 1949 Page 112.
  • A/A Vol  3 No 4 Apr 1949 Page 32-34.
  • A/A Vol  2 No 9 Sept 1948 Page 72-74.
  • A/A Vol  2 No 4 Apr 1948 Page 29-30.
  • A/A Vol  1  No 6 Jun 1947.
  • The Bulletin No 10, July 1943 Page 6 - 7.
  • Australian Birdkeeper
  • ABK Vol 14 Issue 7. Feb-Mar 2001 Page 369-370.
  • ABK Vol 12 Issue 11. Oct-Nov 1999 Page 550-553
  • ABK Vol  3 Issue 5. Oct-Nov 1990 Page 202-206

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