Twenty-eights keep evil spirits at bay
Wednesday, March 27, 2013 at 15:27
City Parrots in Barnardius zonarius - Australian Ringneck, Oddities, Urban parrots

Twenty-eights in inland WA actually say "twenty" rather than the number from which they got their name.The joyous cry of the twenty-eight parrot and its cheeky tail wagging meant that it was always welcomed as a bringer of happiness by the Noongar people, who called the bird Darlmoorluk.

It was said that when Darlmoorluk was around, the camp was safe from evil spirits that roamed the bush.

Although twenty-eights were good to eat, the Noongar only hunted them in desperate times.

The attractive green, yellow and blue bird which frequents our parks and woodlands is known to the world at large as the Port Lincoln or ring-necked parrot, but has been given the colloquial WA name of twenty-eight because of its call, which some say sounds like it is crying "twenty-eight".

Interestingly, only the ring-necks in the South-West cry "twenty-eight". In inland WA, western South Australia and the southern Northern Territory they leave off the "eight".

Our twenty-eight also differs from other ring-necks by sporting a red forehead spot just above its beak. In fact it is so different in appearance that it was once regarded as a separate species.

Twenty-eight parakeets with a taste for grubs. Twenty-eights forage in pairs or small flocks, favouring open forest, partly-cleared farmland, orchards and belts of timber bordering watercourses.

They patrol backyards and parks looking for food and greedily home in on seeding marri and grass trees as well as fruiting almonds, white cedars and flowering coral trees.

In the Perth region, twenty-eights breed in August and September and, like most parrots, prefer to nest in hollow tree branches. However the felling of old trees for safety reasons and the aggressive competition of feral rainbow lorikeets for increasingly rare nesting hollows means twenty-eight populations are now under pressure in some areas.

Like most eggs laid in concealed places, and therefore requiring no camouflage, the twenty-eight's four to seven eggs are pure white.

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