This male Red-capped Parrot (Purpureicephalus spurius) has been recycling the many fallen Marri fruit ('honkey nuts') in our front yard in the Perth Hills over the last few days. This spectacularly coloured native bird has a bill specially adapted for probing deeply into Marri fruit and reaching the seed chamber inside. It uses the fine point at the end of the bill to hook out the seeds and remove the husk, before swallowing them. Red-caps usually feed on fresh fruit in the canopy, moving through the leaves with a speedy climbing action and finding a nice perch on which to feed, their green backs blending in with the leafy surrounds. But when the fruiting season is over it will quietly sneak down to the forest floor and search for fallen fruits that still contain a hidden reward. Such 'recycling' behaviour demonstrates certain species know just where and when to capitalise on a particular food source in their environment, and shows how intelligent these birds really are.
The Red-capped Parrot is one of my most favourite local birds. Its colour is striking yet at times it can be very hard to spot. And the fact it is an endemic species (found nowhere else other than WA's south-west region) makes it extra special. These observations of such a pretty animal feeding on the ground show how vulnerable it is to free-roaming cats, and should provide strong incentive for responsible pet ownership.
You can read other blog posts on this species by typing 'red-capped' into the search bar at the top left.
|The long bill is ideal for reaching deeply into the fruit.|
|The Red-cap's notched beak grips a Marri seed with fine precision as the bird nibbles softly to remove the husk.|