The Mulga Parrot (Psephotus varius)


Also known as Many-colored Parrot,
the Mulga Parrot is a particularly beautiful
medium to small parrot which is
related to the Red-rumped Parrot and,
more distantly, the Hooded, Goldenshouldered
and nearly, or supposedly,
extinct Paradise Parrot. Unfortunately,
it is this last species that some individuals
have tried to reproduce, unsuccessfully,
by hybridizing Mulga Parrots
with either Hooded or Goldenshouldered.
It is likely that the Paradise
Parrot is the nominate form, from
which the other species developed
and is, therefore, unattainable through
hybridizing, as much as it would be
impossible to reproduce a wolf by
cross breeding domestic dogs, the
ancestor from which they originated.
Description and Sexing
Mulga Parrots are sexually dimorphic,
which is to say the feather coloration
between sexes is quite different,
thereby allowing simple and obvious
visual identification of sexes, from
prior to fledging and onwards.
Male: Predominately a light green
bird with a varying degree in depth of
color being darker particularly on the
dorsal surface. The cheeks, ear covert
and throat area have a distinct iridescence
and slight aqua appearance in
some birds. There is a prominent forehead
stripe which can sometimes be
evident in some females although
much paler. There is a dark crimson

patch on the crown of most males and
some females will show a slight degree
of this also. The wings, which are
predominantly green, exhibit a bright
yellow or golden blaze on the shoulder
with the outer or leading edge of
the wing dark to light blue and the
primaries and secondaries dark blue.
Primary flight tips are black. The
underside of the bird has a light green
breast with a bright yellow vent and
lower chest surrounding, in most
birds, a bright red or orange abdominal
patch. The tail feathers are green
graduating to blue and the bird has a
dull crimson strip across the upper tail
covert to rump area. The eye is dark
and the bill is dark grey with a silver
Female: Is distinctive and should
not be confused at all with Redrumped
females. Although they have
a similar olive green color, the Mulga
has many more colors, with notably a
red shoulder blaze. There is also the
slight red crown in some females, the
occasional frontal stripe and definitely
a bright pastel green abdominal area.
Some individuals can exhibit a slight
degree of dull crimson in the abdomen
Immature: Birds can be sexed
accurately as soon as the feathers on
the dorsal surfaces have developed
enough to give clear indication of
color. The shoulder blaze is not
always clear and may show a slight 

degree of both colors, red and yellow,
in the early stages, most particularly in
males. The general body color gives
clear enough indication of sexes in the
same fashion as immature Redrumped
Parrots, Psephotus haematonotus.
One very important consideration
is that young birds, when first
fledged, have yellow bills to some
degree. Other than this, immature
females closely resemble adult females.
Therefore, it is worthwhile to
have the adult female leg rung, as the
yellow in the bill of immatures can
quickly disappear.
If this should occur, the adult female
will be a slightly bigger bird, have
older, greyer looking legs and feet and
the bill should also be darker with the
silver white sheen more developed.
She will also, no doubt, be a more
accomplished flier and therefore wiser
about the net and how to avoid it.
Immature birds should not be left with
the adults long enough for immature
males to color sufficiently to make if
difficult to distinguish between the
adult male. Whether you observe it or
not, in most cases the adult male will
become aggressive towards his offspring,
most notably the males.
As the colloquial name suggests, the
Mulga Parrots inhabit low rainfall
areas such as Mulga scrub, Acacia
aneura, Myall, A. sowdeni, Blue bush,
Maireana sp. and Saltbush, Atriplex
sp., as well as Casuarina/ Saltbush
countiy and a large degree of the various
Mallee habitats. Generally speaking,
they are an inhabitant of arid to
semi arid, hot dry climates south of
the Tropic of Capricorn. They are
found often in association with the different
species of Blue-bonnets over
their range. Blue-bonnets, once
regarded as Psephotus, have been
renamed as a separate group, genus
Northiella, being distinctive from
Psephotus in many ways.
The sight of Mulga Parrots low
down on dead and fallen timber of the
Mallee, flitting low over the undergrowth
or alighting on a saltbush is
indeed a memorable sight, difficult to
surpass. All of their colors become
brilliantly apparent, as if lit up, while
they are in flight and all the while
uttering a beautiful fluty call quite
different to so !11any parrots. They are,
indeed, a gem.