Habitat of the Bourke's parrot

"Spinifex grasses and Mallee shrub in Central Australia"

This beautiful photo I was allowed to use in my website. He is made by Sarah Kochack, a photographer specialised in phothography of landscapes and scenic areas. The cloudless blue sky, red poor ground, low eucalyptus bushes and spinifex with their typical round growth pattern gives an excellent impression of the habitat preferred by the Bourke's parrot.

The webside http://www.listeningearth.com.au gives the opportunity to visit the untouched nature of Australia and several other scenic areas in the world virtually. This site is designed by Andrew Skeoch. Skeoch brought the wilderness to live by his sound recordings. Some titles are: "A morning in the Australian Bush". "The spirit of the Outback". "The dawn in the "Mallee". Sarah Kochack composed several photo galeries, like the "Outback", the "Subtropical rainforest in the North", with the waterfalls in the Tolana Creek. The "Mangrove blossom in the Kakadu National Park". Pictures you never will forget. The site is very interesting for birdfanciers who want to make an idea about the original habitat of birdspecies in Australia. I found this site when I searched the internet for pictures of spinifex. In short, it is an impressive site.

Habitat and names of parrot species: Some parrot species are named after their habitat. The Mulga parrot or Multicolour parrot (Psepsotus varius), Mallee parrot or Ringneck parrot, (Barnardius barnardi) , Spinifex parrot or Princess of Wales Parrot ( Polytelis alexandriae), Rock parrot (Neophema petrophylia) Anthill Parrot or Golden-shouldered parrot (Psephotus chrysopterygius), Swamp parrot or Ground parrot (Pezoporus wallicus), Desert cockatoo or Pink Cockatoo ( Plyctolophus Leadbeatheri), etc.

Drought: Drougt is the most characteristic mark of the habitat of the Bourke. Trees, plants, animals and birds, all inhabitants of the desert and semi-aride areas in Australia have have to cope with drought. Important for the diet of the Bourke are the seeds of the Mallee and Mulga shrubs, the Spinifex seeds and other herbs. Often the birds are nomadic, the Bourke is half nomadic. He lives some years in the same neighbourhood and seek than for better conditions. In the evening they fly sometimes several miles to find water. Also they utilize fluid contained by the seeds, bark and herbs very economically.

Spinifex: All Trodia and Plectrachne species are named Spinifex, as a matter of convienience. Spina (Latin) = sharp. Spinifex grasslands covers 22% of the Australian continent. There are 67 species of spinifex. There are two types. The soft and the hard spinifex. The hard spinifex is often called porcupine grass. The hard spiky desert leaves are well adapted to the drought. It has an unusual growth pattern where the inner grass dies of and new stems sprout from the outside forming concentric circles.

The real spinifex is found only in the sandy habitats along coastal beaches. It is subject to extreme temperature, strong winds and shifting sand. It plays an important role in dune formation like the "helmgras" in Holland.

Mallee (Eucalyptus bushes) are evergreen shrubs. They grow 2-3 m. high in the semi-arid regions around the central desert zone. At the outskirt this vegetation type converts into savanne vegetation. Mallee is growing very slowly, abourt three cm. a year. It has many small stems and thick underground roots that retains water.

Mulga (Acacia) is another dominant species in Australian shrub woodland. The Acacia aneura is the most known mulga tree. Mulga is the aboriginal word for long narrow shields made from the Acacia. Acacia is dirived from akis (Greek)= a sharp pointed object. This tree has leaves and branches that ensure that rainwater is channeled to the stem and to the ground right to its deep taproots utilising every drop of moisture in a very efficient way. Rainfall is about 250 mm. a year. The Mulga covers big parts of the Outback, and one-forth of Australia. There are many Acacia species. One of them, the Thorn Acacia forms sharp bristly hard bushes. They provide shade, shelter and forage. A real hiding place for lizards, birds, etc. Maybe that the name of the estate "Thornfields" in Ireland, given by his owner, Sir Richard Bourke, refers to this impenetrable wilderniss.

The Bourke's parrot is feeding himselve with the seeds of Mallee and Acacia en the sparsely undergrowth of spinifex and herbs. Just as the trees and plants he is very economic with water.Watersupplies as creeks are seldom found in the neighbourhood, so he has to fly many miles in the evening to rearch the water. Drinking places he find at the farm with sheeps and cows also.

Distribution of the Bourke's parrot

On this little map we see that the Bourke is an inhabitant of a big part of Central Australia. The distribution is shown by the grey line. Bourke's live mainly in the uninhabited and dry areas of Western-Australia to South-West Queens land and West-New South Wales. To the North the area is reaching out to the Northern Territory. Central Australia is called "Outback" or "Red Centre" This covers 70% of the continent. The ground is red. This refers to the name of the Red Continent. The hottest part has a desert climate. In some places there is no rain at all. Temperature will be very high at day. In the winter period the nights are cold. In the semi-aride areas , enclosing the desert, the rainfall is about 250 mm. a year. The dry season is during eight month. Here we find the Mulga and Mallee shrubs. Then comes the zone with about 350 mm. rainfall a year. Here is enough to breed cattle. The North of New South Wales and the South of Queensland has a sub-tropical climate.

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Copyright 2005 by Bob Fregeres

E-mail: fregeres@bourkes-parakeet.nl

4/7/05