Red-capped parrot

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Red-capped parrot
Red-Capped-Parrot 0004 flat web.jpg
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Psittaciformes
Family: Psittaculidae
Genus: Purpureicephalus
Bonaparte, 1854
Species: P. spurius
Binomial name
Purpureicephalus spurius
(Kuhl, 1820)

The red-capped parrot (Purpureicephalus spurius), also called the pileated parakeet[2] (leading to easy confusion with the South American Pionopsitta pileata), and king parrot locally in Western Australia,[3] is an Australian species of broad-tailed parrot related to the rosellas.


The red-capped parrot was first described by German naturalist Heinrich Kuhl as Psittacus spurius in 1820,[4] from an immature specimen collected in Albany, Western Australia.[5] Irish naturalist Nicholas Aylward Vigors named the species Platycercus pileatus from an adult male specimen in 1830.[6]

It was placed in the monotypic genus Purpureicephalus by Charles Lucien Bonaparte in 1854. The generic name is an amalgam of the Latin purpureus "purple", and the Ancient Greek kephalé "head". The specific epithet spurius is the Latin adjective meaning "illegitimate", and refers to the very different adult and immature plumages (hence appearing unrelated).[5] Besides red-capped parrot, vernacular names include pileated parrot, western king parrot, purple-crowned parrot, grey parrot or hookbill.[5]


Juvenile in Perth, Australia

Measuring 34–38 cm (13.5–15 in) in length and weighing 105–125 g, the adult red-capped parrot is a distinctive and easily recognised medium-sized parrot. The adult male has a crimson crown, grey-brown lores, and green-yellow cheeks and a narrow long upper mandible. The upperparts are dark green, the rump yellow-green, the tail green with dark blue tip.[5] The underparts are purplish-blue and the flanks green and red. The female is similar but duller overall, and the juvenile has a dark green crown, reddish frontal band, and red-brown underparts.[7]

Distribution and habitat

The species occurs from the Moore River southwards in southwestern Australia. Its natural habitat is marri (Corymbia calophylla), but has adapted to farmland, orchards and suburban landscapes in Perth.[7]


Marri seeds are the preferred diet, but birds also extract seeds from karri (Eucalyptus diversicolor), woody pear (Xylomelum), Grevillea, Hakea, and she-oak (Casuarina), as well as insects such as psyllids, and even orchard fruit such as apples and pears.[7]

The breeding season is August to December, the nest is a tree hollow, and a clutch of five white eggs is laid.


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Purpureicephalus spurius". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ Alderton, David (2003). The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Caged and Aviary Birds. London, England: Hermes House. p. 187. ISBN 1-84309-164-X. 
  3. ^ Lendon, Alan H. (1973). Australian Parrots in Field and Aviary (2nd ed.). Sydney: Angus and Robertson. p. 147. ISBN 0-207-12424-8. 
  4. ^ Kuhl, Heinrich (1820). Conspectus Psittacorum : cum specierum definitionibus, novarum descriptionibus, synonymis et circa patriam singularum naturalem adversariis, adjecto indice museorum, ubi earum artificiosae exuviae servantur. Nova Acta Leopoldina (in Latin). Bonn. p. 52. 
  5. ^ a b c d Higgins PJ (1999). Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds. Volume 4: Parrots to Dollarbird. Melbourne: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-553071-3. 
  6. ^ Vigors, Nicholas Aylward (1830). "Notice on some new species of birds". Zoological Journal London. 5: 273–75. 
  7. ^ a b c Forshaw, Joseph M. & Cooper, William T. (1978). Parrots of the World (2nd ed.). Melbourne: Landsdowne Editions. p. 227. ISBN 0-7018-0690-7. 
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