Blue Bonnet

Did you know?

The Blue Bonnet can be extremely aggressive to other birds when kept in an aviary and has been known to kill birds larger than itself. The scientific name Northiella comes from Alfred John North, an ornithologist who worked at the Australian Museum.

The Naretha subspecies Northiella haematogaster narethae is specially protected in WA.

Blue Bonnets have quite a range of calls, only some of which are mentioned here. There is a Chip-chip call, which is the most useful for identification. It has been described as a harsh abrupt "jak, jakajag" or "cluck-cluck….cluk-cluck….cluck-cluck". It i
Facts and Figures
Research Species: 
Minimum Size: 
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Breeding season: 
usually July to December, recorded in SA late May, in WA subspecies narethae March-April and August-September
Clutch Size: 
4 to 9, usually 5
19 days
Nestling Period: 
30 days
Conservation Status
Basic Information
Scientific Name: 
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What does it look like?

The Blue Bonnet is a medium sized parrot with a blue forehead and face, and mostly olive-grey to brown upper body and neck. It shows marked geographical variations in feather colours and size. The amount of red on its mostly yellow underside varies between sub-species, but all have dark blue feathers along their wings leading edges. There are three subspecies in addition to Northiella haematogaster. Blue Bonnet is also known as Bluebonnet, Bulloak, Crimson-bellied, Naretha, Oak, Pallid, Pine or Yellow-vented Parrot; Bluebonnet or Crimson-bellied Parakeet; Little, Naretha.

Similar species: 

The Blue Bonnet is quite distinctive.

Where does it live?

The Blue Bonnet is found in the dryer parts of the inland from southern Queensland through New South Wales and north-west Victoria to south-western Western Australia, though largely absent from western South Australia. 


Blue Bonnets live in arid and semi-arid areas, on plains with low shrub layers such as saltbush or bluebush and sometimes scatterd trees or open woodland consisting of trees like Myall, Mulga and native pine. They are also found on lightly timbered grasslands and sand-dune areas. In north-west Victoria they are common in sparse areas of malee on roadsides and on partly cleared farmlands. 

Seasonal movements: 

Blue Bonnets do not migrate seasonally. They seem to stay in much the same area, but sometimes migrate within a local area. Numbers do vary at times at some sites.

What does it do?

Blue Bonnets live on the seeds of a wide variety of plants and also eat fruit, flowers, nectar, insects and insect larvae. The forage in pairs or small groups. They are seen feeding with other parrots such as the Australian Ringneck, Barnardius zonarius, and Mulga Parrot, Psephotus varius. They usually feed on the ground but will also feed in trees and shrubs. 


The Blue Bonnet nests in hollows in the trunk or limb of a tree, living or dead. They often nest in small trees with small hollow entrances, but will nest in taller trees, stumps, fallen trees and even in fence posts. Eggs are laid in a shallow depression on decayed wood at the bottom of the hollow. Sometimes the hollow is lined with grass, leaves, twigs and feathers. The entrances are often very small - knotholes and cracks at a tree's base. Only the female sits on the eggs, while the male feeds her. The female does most of the feeding of the chicks, at least initially, but are fed by both parents in the fledging stage.

Living with us

 Blue Bonnets on the Nullaboor Plain are illegally trapped for  aviculture. This is thought to have caused local declines and extinctions. In the early 1970s quite a few were illegally trapped in Western Australia and then released near Ceduna in South Australia.

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