Graeme Chapman - natural history photographer - ornithologist

Australian Birds

Northiella haematogaster
(Viewing 4 of 8 photos)

Click to listen to sound samples For many years regarded as one of the grass parrots (genus Psephotus) in recent times, Bluebonnets have been moved into a genus of their own (Northiella). They do have quite a few characters in common with our broad-tailed parrots (rosellas and ringnecks) including their flight, plumage patterns and calls. They are birds of the inland, and their brownish upperparts blend in well with the soils and vegetation predominant in our arid and semi-arid zones.

They have a particular liking for areas where sheoaks such as belah or bulloak (genus Allocasuarina) grow, mainly because these trees provide them with their preferred nesting sites. Where available, they prefer a narrow split in the main trunk of a tree which opens out into a hollow that often continues down to (or even below!) ground level. It is amazing just how narrow a split they can fit into and such sites are not uncommon in quite small trees such as Myall (an Acacia) out in desert regions. These narrow nest entrances would provide good protection from the larger of the predatory goannas.

Bluebonnets occur mainly as pairs and occupy the same territories year after year. They are rarely seen in flocks but sometimes in small groups when they move to and fro from water, which they do soon after dawn or at dusk. Saltbush and acacia seed feature largely in their diet which is quite varied - they feed mainly on the ground.

Male Bluebonnets have a little more blue on the face than females (see pic 297210) but the difference is slight and you would need to see them together to decide. Younger birds are also duller than adults, so behaviour would be a better clue. Only the female sits on the eggs and he calls her from the nest with a sweet whistling call (listen on sound page) to feed her in a nearby tree.

Photo: 297001

297001 ... Bluebonnet, yellow-vented subspecies, Yowah, Queensland.

Photo: 297202

297202 ... Bluebonnet

Photo: 297203

297203 ... Bluebonnet

Photo: 297204

297204 ... Bluebonnet, yellow-vented subspecies, Yowah, Qld.

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