Crimson-winged Parrots Aprosmictus erythropterus, commonly called Redwings, are a prized bird in mixed aviary collections due to their striking colouration. They are a stout, medium-sized bird and regarded as ‘soft’ as they are not very tolerant of change and are susceptible to stress. They are not prolific breeders in aviaries.

Handraised birds can be very sociable, intelligent and inquisitive. Hardier than their non-handreared counterparts, they rarely show signs of stress and are easier to breed.



There are two Australian subspecies of Crimson-wings—Prosmictus erythropterus found in a range of open areas of mainland Australia and A. e. cuccineupterus found in northern Australia. A. e. papua is found in the southern grasslands of New Guinea. It is common to see flocks of up to 150 of the New Guinea subspecies together.



Crimson-wings congregate in mainland Australia in small family groups. The wild habitat is diverse, from the Kimberley Ranges in north Western Australia over most regions of Queensland and inland northern New South Wales, decreasing in numbers near the South Australian border.

Crimson-wings are mainly arboreal dwellers and become nomadic as their food supply dwindles. Family groups can be found in varied habitat, including semi-tropical scrub areas, across grasslands with sparsely treed regions in both wet and dry sclerophyll eucalypt forests to acacia scrub forests. They generally stay confined to habitats bordering, or in close proximity to, watercourses where they forage on nuts, mistletoe berries, flower blossoms, fruit, insects and Acacia seeds. In the Burnett peanut-growing region, I have observed flocks of Crimson-wings foraging on the ground for the nuts, especially after harvesting.

In northern Australia this species breeds at the end of the wet season in the cooler autumn months from April until July, while in other regions breeding occurs from late August until December. In the wild, pairs have been known to nest in tall hollows, with a long cavity going deep, close to the ground.



It is the vibrant, bold colours of the male Crimson-winged Parrot feathers that draw attention and make an outstanding exhibition in any aviary. The colouration is unique, with an overall iridescent light green head and body contrasted by the dark green to black feathers across the back extending over the outer wing coverts, highlighted by a wide bright slash of crimson on the outer wing feathers. The flight and tail feathers vary between dark green and black with an aquamarine blue edge.

Females are significantly less striking—primarily a duller green overall with a narrow band of red showing through the darker green on the outer wing feathers. There is no black on the back as seen on the male. A rich blue patch on the lower back and rump is found on both sexes, although the blue is slightly less vibrant on the female. Juvenile birds resemble adult females—they begin to develop adult plumage from 18–24 months.


Australian BirdKeeper Magazine Issue 24 Volume 11  Pg 702-704


The full article appears in Australian Birdkeeper Magazine Volume 24 Issue 11 available from


Reproduced with permission from ABK Publications and Australian BirdKeeper ©2011


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