Home | Bird Breeding | A Truly Superb Psittacine – the Superb Parrot or Barraband’s Parakeet

A Truly Superb Psittacine – the Superb Parrot or Barraband’s Parakeet

Superb Parrot” width=Gorgeous, friendly and a talented mimic, this Australian native truly lives up to its name.  The Superb Parrot (Polytelis swainsoni), although not as commonly kept as many related species, is very hardy and an excellent choice for those wishing to expand their parrot-keeping horizons.

Description and Natural History

The Superb Parrot has a slim, elongated body of 12-14 inches in length.  The torso is clad in brilliant green and the flight feathers are blue.  The male’s forehead, throat and cheeks are bright yellow, and the throat is decorated with a splash of crimson red. 

It has an extremely limited natural range, being found only along several rivers in Southeastern Australia (mainly Southern New South Wales and Victoria).  There it frequents lightly wooded areas, overgrown scrub and the borders of farms and ranches, going about in small flocks and feeding upon Eucalyptus blossoms and nectar, seeds, fruit, and insect larvae.  Superb Parrots often forage on the ground and are quick to take advantage of spilled grain, flowering ornamental trees and other novel feeding opportunities.

Superb Parrots as Pets

Fortunately for the species and its human fans, the Superb Parrot is well-established in captivity and actually rather easy to breed.  They are inquisitive and quick to bond with people, and become quite trusting in short order.  Mimicry comes easily to the Superb Parrot, and many develop quite impressive vocabularies.


Breeding occurs most often in large outdoor aviaries.  Wild Superb Parrots usually nest in small groups, with 3-4 pairs utilizing different cavities in the same or nearby trees, but captives rarely breed in a colony situation.  Therefore, prospective breeders should be given a large enclosure to themselves.

They do, however, get along well with many birds, including other parrots, quails and doves.  In fact, Superb Parrots enthusiastically interbreed with a surprising array of other Psittacines, including King and Red-Winged Parrots, Eastern Rosellas and Princess of Wales Parakeets.

A typical clutch contains 4-5 eggs, which are incubated by the female (she may be fed on the nest by her mate).  The chicks hatch in approximately 22 days and fledge by day 40.  Pairs may breed for extended periods of time – more than 2 decades according to some aviculturists.

Superb Parrot in pet shop


Superb Parrots do well on a seed and pellet-based diet (Nutriberries) are an excellent means of introducing pellets to picky eaters), but require a good deal of variety if they are to remain in peak condition and color.  Fruits, vegetables, fruit tree buds and flowers such as dandelion should be offered on a regular basis.  They reportedly take insect larvae in the wild, so waxworms and mealworms are worth trying.

Like most parrots, these active birds take great pleasure in stripping leaves, bark and buds from freshly-cut fruit tree branches.

Further Reading

This Birds in Backyards article provides detailed natural history and conservation-oriented information.

This video of a courting pair of Superb Parrots leaves not doubt as to the suitability of their name!


Superb Parrot image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by Paulgear
Superb Parrot in pet shop image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by Snowmanradio and Sergio Almeida

About Frank Indiviglio

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I believe that I was born with an intense interest in animals, as neither I nor any of my family can recall a time when I was not fascinated by creatures large and small. One might imagine this to be an unfortunate set of circumstances for a person born and raised in the Bronx, but, in actuality, quite the opposite was true. Most importantly, my family encouraged both my interest and the extensive menagerie that sprung from it. My mother and grandmother somehow found ways to cope with the skunks, flying squirrels, octopus, caimans and countless other odd creatures that routinely arrived un-announced at our front door. Assisting in hand-feeding hatchling praying mantises and in eradicating hoards of mosquitoes (I once thought I had discovered “fresh-water brine shrimp” and stocked my tanks with thousands of mosquito larvae!) became second nature to them. My mother went on to become a serious naturalist, and has helped thousands learn about wildlife in her 16 years as a volunteer at the Bronx Zoo. My grandfather actively conspired in my zoo-buildings efforts, regularly appearing with chipmunks, boa constrictors, turtles rescued from the Fulton Fish Market and, especially, unusual marine creatures. It was his passion for seahorses that led me to write a book about them years later. Thank you very much, for a complete biography of my experience click here.
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