Breeding King Parrots


by Kerry Britnell

Is it an art or is it Good Luck? Maybe it is beginners luck with me as both my pairs of Kings went to nest this year, and without any assistance from me, reared 8 fine healthy chicks.

Hen King Parrot - Alisterus scapularis. Photograph by & courtesy of Tony Vaughan, Brisbane, Qld Australia

I was told the parents would not be able to handle 5 in one nest and even 3 in another and I would need to closely watch them and be prepared to ‘top up’ feed as required. Daily checks were made but never at any time did these chicks require additional feeding and all eight were parent reared. I had taken two chicks away as originally in nest No. 1 there were seven chicks.

I finished building my aviaries in late July last year. They are in a bank of six, some suspendeds, with a walkway at the rear allowing easy access to nest boxes etc, connected by head high doors. Each aviary measures 9ft long x 3ft wide x 8ft high. Then came the fun part - arranging the birds. In the first aviary I set up a 3ft upright nest box and a pair of Kings, approximately 2 years old, which I had been keeping in a small cage. In September I was offered another pair of Kings. These I purchased and placed in aviary no. 3 together with a 3ft 'princess type' nest box.

No. 1 pair went to nest and laid 5 eggs. The hen did not seem to be sitting but spent lots of time in the nest. A further check revealed another 5 eggs, making a total of 10. I felt this must be two separate clutches, decided to leave well alone and behold, she went to nest and 7 chicks were the result. The second pair had laid 4 eggs, 3 of which hatched. The excitement had me floating on cloud nine and daily I went shopping for supplements.

My feeding programme, which I reasoned would make it easier for the parents and hopefully for me, consisted of a bowl of Executive Parrot Mix, a bowl of grey sunflower seed and a bowl made up of egg and biscuit, seaweed meal, meat protein and calcium carbonate mixed to a crumbly consistency with a little water. Additionally I had a large 10" pot saucer which I filled daily to overflowing with coarsely chopped greens. This consisted of celery (including tops), silver beet, apples and corn on the cob over which was generously sprinkled Balanced Cal™.

Being a shift worker on early shift, I fed once daily between 4.00 and 4.30 each afternoon. It was incredible the amount of food that disappeared. Handling the chicks daily seemed to quieten them and the fledging process went without any mishaps or injuries which can be caused by young birds bashing themselves against the walls of the aviary.

I feel I owe a lot of my breeding success to my feeding programme with daily generous serves of calcium. Never at any time has there been any sign of calcium deficiency in the chicks which I understand one must watch closely with baby Kings.

As I write this, both pairs of parent birds are again busily working their nests and I am told it is not unusual for Kings to go down a second time, even at this late stage. It has been an exciting and busy first season for me as I have also had two pairs of Superbs, recently purchased, go to nest and rear their chicks. These birds were purchased in the latter part of 1995 and went straight to nest.

I hope my experience in breeding and successfully raising Kings as outlined in this article, maybe of assistance to fellow members.

Beginners Luck!! I can’t wait for the next round!

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