How to Breeding Scarlet-chested Parrots

Meeting: Scarlet-chested Parrots
Meeting: Scarlet-chested Parrots

Breeding Guide: Scarlet-chested Parrots



The head is a bright light blue from the crown, over the forehead, ear coverts, lores and cheeks, with a darker violet-blue throat.

From the nape, down the side of the neck and the rest of the upper parts, including the rump and upper tail coverts, is bright olive-green. A scarlet bib covers the neck and breast, merging into the golden-yellow underparts. Underwing coverts and the bend in wing are dark blue, but the wing coverts become light blue. The outer tail feathers are blue with yellow tips, tending to yellow underneath.


Females do not have a scarlet chest and are duller than males. All upper parts, including the head and chest, are a light olive-green. The ear coverts are a dirty grey-blue over bright, light blue lores, cere and throat. The remainder, including the underparts, underwing coverts, shoulder and outer tail feathers, are similar to the male. Their colouring can cause females to be confused with Turquoisine Parrots. Immatures are similar to mature females but duller in colour. Adult plumage is acquired at 15 months of age.


Scarlet-chested Parrots generally inhabit a large range of remote, arid and grassland regions throughout southern Australia, from the south-eastern regions of Western Australia through to southern and central parts of South Australia to the Eyre Peninsula. They have been known to extend their range through far northwestern areas of Victoria to the far south-west Queensland border, around the Darling River.

Distribution is influenced by climate and weather patterns. The weather in these areas can range from mostly hot and dry summers to moderate rainfalls during mid-winter months. Sightings vary as a result, as the birds move nomadically according to the season and available food supply.

During good seasons, when seeding grasses are plentiful, bird numbers are high. During dry seasons, sightings are reduced to the odd single pair. This can also be the case with other Australian parrots but is more reflective of semi-arid dwellers.

Typical habitat often consists of Mallee or Acacia scrub, with areas of spinifex or ground cover. Some arid areas where Scarlets are found have frequent temperatures in the 40ÂșCs. Water is not always close by these populations, but Scarlet-chested Parrots nibble on succulent plants to extract moisture. During extreme daytime temperatures, Scarlets will dig holes in the sand up to 10cm deep, under shady trees to keep cool.

how to breed Scarlet-chested Parrots
Breeding: Scarlet-chested Parrots

Housing and Breeding for Scarlet-chested Parrots

Breeding Scarlets is relatively easy when birds are housed in pairs. Conventional flights don’t need to be large. An aviary measuring 2–3m in length x 2m high x 90cm wide is sufficient. Suspended flights of 2–3m long x 80–90cm square are suitable, with a closed-in safety walkway to shield them from extreme weather. One of the most important considerations in planning flights is to shield the birds from cold, damp draughts. Scarlets will also breed in large, planted free-flight aviaries, cohabitating with finches. Some years ago we housed two pairs with finches in an area 10m x 5m x 5m high without any problems.

Scarlets should not be housed with other Neophemas because they will easy crossbreed and hybridise.

Suitable nest boxes are 20cm square x 30cm deep, with substrate consisting of Eucalyptus mulch or hardwood shavings, with a little peat moss mixed in. Dry pine shavings such as Hysorb™ are not suitable due to absorbing too much moisture from the eggs during incubation.

Scarlets will often breed in their first year but it’s more beneficial to wait until birds are 18 months of age when they are more mature and developed. Scarlets can breed in March or April but more commonly between August and November.

Prior to breeding, males start their courtship by hopping excitedly around the female with fanned tail and fluttering wing beats. After copulation, 4–5 eggs are normally laid in a little over a week.

Incubation is performed solely by the female for approximately 18 days before chicks begin hatching. After hatching, the young are brooded by the female for the first 10 days. Throughout both periods, the female is fed at the nest entrance by the male. After 10 days the female leaves the nest periodically and both parents feed the young directly. The young fledge at about 32 days and become independent four weeks later. If young are removed, pairs are likely to nest a second time. Young males start to show their scarlet chest at 4–6 months after fledging.

Over the past 20 years a number of mutation colours have been developed. Many enthusiasts breed these coloured birds because they tend to fetch higher prices.

Unfortunately, over time, this has affected the availability of birds in their pure form.

how to feed Scarlet-chested Parrots
Feeding: Scarlet-chested Parrots

How to Feed Scarlet-chested Parrots

Diet should consist of a small parrot mix with a blend of different millets, canary seed and hulled oats, but very little sunflower or safflower. Greens such as celery, spinach and natural herbage like dandelion, milk thistle or chickweed when available, are important in their diet. When young are in the nest, having a bowl of commercially prepared egg and biscuit mix available is ideal. This is proven to help keep the chicks full and healthy. Sprouted seed is another soft food supplement that can be considered.

Clean, fresh water is essential, particularly when egg and biscuit is being fed, as the parent birds will dribble food in the water and turn it into bacteria soup.

Scarlets in conventional aviaries tend to feed on the ground a lot, so need to be wormed twice a year.


Without a doubt, Scarlet-chested Parrots are one of the most colourful smaller parrots in the world. These parrots are relatively easy to keep and breed providing they are sheltered from cold, damp draughts. These birds survive in tough conditions in some of the most remote, arid areas of Australia, so keeping them in ideal conditions in aviculture should ensure their abundance for many years to come. The main challenge in aviculture today is trying to keep the birds in their pure form.

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