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Rock Pebbler parrot (Polytelis anthopeplus)

Found in eucalyptus groves in southwestern Australia, Rock Pebbler parakeets have predominantly lime-coloured plumage with a green tail. This fifteen-inch bird can be sexed based on plumage coloration. Males are more yellow, with green backs and red beaks. Female Rock Pebblers display a greener tint on their head and back plumage. These beautiful birds munch on an assortment of seeds and leaves, but also peck at small insects. They also nibble on flower buds, larvae, and psyllids. Foraging in pairs or small flocks, they spend much of their feeding time on the ground. Unlike many birds, Rock Pebblers do not need digestive grit in their diets. They are relatively hardy but must be protected from excessive cold. With the expansion of farming in their native territories, these birds have begun to feed on cereal crops such as wheat. The Rock Pebbler population has declined substantially and is listed as Endangered in New South Wales.

Rock Pebblers are easy-going but nervous when nesting. Mature at two years old, the female broods a clutch of three to eight eggs for approximately twenty days. She seldom leaves the nest and is fed by the male. Both parents care for the young, who fledge at thirty-five days. Juveniles all look like hens for about three months, but males tend to show more yellow when they fledge. Young birds will have their adult plumage by eighteen months. Rock Pebblers live about eighteen years in the wild, but they have been known to live thirty years in captivity.

Their flight calls are prolonged rolling cries, but landed Rock Pebblers twitter to each other and lapse into silence when feeding. They are among the most adept Australian parakeets at picking up whistles and words. Abraham, one of the many Rock Pebblers in residence, surprised us one day when he went up to a new bird and said “It’s okay.” We now use his calming spirit to reassure new arrivals, because he seems to sense when someone needs a friendly welcome.