Northiella haematogaster - Eastern Bluebonnet

Photo: David Cook

The Eastern Bluebonnet (also known as Greater Bluebonnet) – Northiella haematogaster (Gould, 1838) –  is a small parrot from Australia. It was previously classified as Psephotus haematogaster but in 1994 it was moved to the Northiella genus. 

A breeding pair will form a very strong bond for life.

They are common among breeders in Europe but less common in USA.

They are usually seen in pairs or small groups of up to 20 birds. 


Upperparts and head is olive/grey; yellow lower underparts with a red parts of varying size. The face is blue/lilac with dark brown eyes and grey/white bill. . 

The female look similar to the male but with less red on abdomen and duller colours on face; also slightly smaller in size/smaller head.

Juveniles look similar to the adult female but more dull colours and less red on abdomen. After 12 months they will have their adult colours.

Size: Typical about 30 cm long but size can vary from ~28 to 34 cm.
Weight: Male 90-110 gram, female 75-90 gram



  • Order: Psittaciformes
  • Family: Psittaculidae
  • Genus: Northiella


  • Danish: Blåmaskeparakit
  • English: Eastern Bluebonnet, Greater Bluebonnet, Bluebonnet, Yellow-vented Bluebonnet, Red-vented Bluebonnet, Pallid Bluebonnet
  • French: Perruche à bonnet bleu
  • German: Blutbauchsittich
  • Portuguese: Periquito-de-bluebonnet
  • Spanish: Perico cariazul
  • Scientific: Northiella haematogaster

IUCN Red List

BirdLife International 2016. Northiella haematogaster. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22685135A93059991.
Accessed on 12 March 2022



The native habitat of the Eastern Bluebonnet is arid parts of the south-eastern and southern Australia; the approximate geographic range is displayed with red on the map to the right. They can be seen in a variety of habitats including open woodland, riverine woodland, open country with scattered trees and farmland.

The population of wild birds is unknown but estimated to be decreasing due to loss of habitat.


Three subspecies are recognized:

  • Northiella haematogaster haematogaster (Gould, 1838) – Yellow-vented Bluebonnet :
    Nominate subspecies, see description above.
    Habitat ranges from western and southern New South Wales, north-western  Victoria and south-eastern South Australia.
  • Northiella haematogaster haematorrhoa (Bonaparte, 1856) – Red-vented Bluebonnet :
    Similar colors as N. h. haematogaster but the red area on the abdomen covers a larger area including undertail coverings.
    Habitat ranges from south-eastern Queensland to northern and eastern New South Wales.
  • Northiella haematogaster pallescens (Salvadori, 1891) – Pallid Bluebonnet :
    Similar colors as N. h. haematogaster but much paler; the red patch on the abdomen is smaller or missing on females.
    Habitat is limited to north-eastern South Australia.

Previously the Naretha Bluebonnet was also considered a subspecies of the Eastern Bluebonnet but is now considered a separate species.


Wild birds feed on a variety of small seeds frui, berries and acacia blossoms. They feed both in trees and on the ground.

In captivity the diet should be based on a finch seed mix of millets, pannicum and canary seed – in the colder months supplement this seed mix with a small amount of hulled oats. Also provide fruits and greens.


Bluebonnet can be aggressive even towards larger birds so it is recommended to keep only one pair for each aviary and use double wiring between adjoining aviaries.

Bluebonnet enjoys bathing and also like scratching the soil or sand in the bottom of the aviary. Provide some bird safe branches for chewing. Breeding pairs develop a strong bond. It is recommended to place many young birds in a large aviary and let them decide their own partner, after which the pair can be isolated in their own aviary. Hens should be at least 12 months old before breeding.

Breeding season is July – December. Wild birds nest in a tree cavity.

A slanted type nest box is recommended with a size of ~18 x 18 x  60cmg. The hole should be roughly the size of a golf ball – it is important to use a small opening size to stop the male bird from gaining entry to the nest.

The clutch contains 4-6 eggs, usually 5.  The eggs are incubated for 19 days; the chicks reach fledging age after 5 weeks. Move the young birds to a separate aviary to avoid aggression from one or both parents.

Photo Credits

Photos by David Cook – License: Creative Commons CC BY 2.0.

Approximate grographical range