SMALL ASIATIC’S IN SOUTH AFRICA

Psittacula family

In South Africa a number of the smaller Asiatic parakeets are been kept and bred. The degree of success varies according to many different external factors; we will go into some of them when appropriate. Some of the species are frequently kept and others are seldom seen and may only be kept by experience aviculturists. The seldom kept species are normally higher priced than the ones you see every day.

All Asiatic have similar characteristics, been a long tail with the two middle feathers much longer than the rest, a bigger upper mandible and been dimorphic with the cock that shows a ring of some kind around the neck. Birds mature around two/three years and this is the time that cock change in appearance. There are some thirty-five species and sub-species of which only nine will be discussed here. These nine range from 28cm to 40cm in size. The smaller species are some of the more colourful among the Asiatic excepted for the mutations. These small birds are somewhat prone to cold and drafts and should have some kind of protection against the elements. The Malabar and the Emerald-collard are mostly affected by cold.

Asiatic origin all, accepted one, from the Asian-continent and the neighbouring islands.

Asiatic does not make good pets, they do like petting, but they can be thought to say a couple of words

The species that will be discussed in this article are Slaty-headed (2), Intermediate Parrakeet, African Ringneck, Malabar, Plum-head, Blossom-head(2) and the Emerald-collared.

Slaty-head ParrakeetPsittacula himalayana himalayana (subspecie: finschii)Description: The adult plumage is predominant green, somewhat lighter, yellow-green, on the abdomen and a blue haze to the breast. The under-wing covert bluish-green. Head colour is dark grey with a black ring in the front and a blue-green ring on the nape. The two middle tail feathers are deep blue with the tip yellow, these feathers are some 15-20cm long. Only the male will have shoulder patches, maroon-red. A red upper mandible, tipped yellow and a yellow lower mandible. Legs are grey with dark toenails. The finschii sub-specie is noticeable thinner and leaner bird. The tail feathers a lot narrower than, and not as broad as in the nominate specie, the colour are more violet-blue. Hens are the same as cocks only much duller. Young birds have a green head with some grey and the tail is a lot shorter. Shoulder patches are not clearly defined when young. Eyes pale white.
Length: 40cm (tail up to 50% of total length)

Weight: 100-125g

Origin: Range – Afghanistan, India, Nepal, Thailand, Vietnam and China

Status – Common to uncommon in cultivated areas

Aviculture: Freely imported at one stage but not often seen today. In SA there are some dedicated breeders that keeps them, not withstanding the lower price are availability.

Accommodation: Walk-in aviary 2-3m or suspended-aviary 1.8m long.

Diet: Mixture of small seeds with limited sunflower and a good soft-food mix.

Breeding: Double wire is needed. Nest box of 50X20X20cm with entrance of 8cm. Brooding by the hen while cock help feeding the chicks when 2-3weeks old.

Clutch: 3-4 but up to 6 eggs possible

Incubation: 24 days by the hen alone. They are usually excellent parents

Young in nest: 7 weeks and sexually mature at 2-3years. (Head colour change at first mould to grey)

Mutations: A Lutino, Blue and Greygreen are known in Europe, none in SA.

African ringneck parrakeetPsittacula krameri krameri (the nominate specie of the ringneck parrakeet)
Description: The adult plumage is green with a yellow-green under tail. The two middle tail feathers are blue. A dark red, almost black upper mandible and a black lower. Males mature at 2-3years and obtain a black neckring, black in front and purple to pink in the neck, a blue hue are shown above the neckring. A narrow black line from the cere to the eye develop in cocks, hens lack these markings. Young birds resemble the hen with a much shorter tail.

Length: 37-39cm

Weight: 105g

Origin: Range – North-central Africa (Guinea, Senegal, Uganda, Sudan)

Status – Common to uncommon in variety of habitats

Aviculture: Freely imported at one stage but not often seen today. A great number of the imported were exported shortly after words. While importation took place great numbers of cocks were available.

Accommodation: Walk-in aviary 2-3m or suspended-aviary 1.8m long.

Diet: Mixture of small seeds with limited sunflower and a good soft-food mix. Newly imported birds needed more soft-food.

Breeding: Double wire is needed. Nestbox of 50X20X20cm with entrance of 8cm.

Clutch: 4-5 but occasionally 6 eggs (usually single-brooders)

Incubation: 24 days

Young in nest: 7 weeks and sexually mature at 2-3years.

Mutations: None are known. (Hybrids were seen with the Indian ringneck)

Plum-headed ParakeetPsittacula cyanocephala
Description: Cocks: Purple red head with a bluish-purple haze on the hindcrown, bordered by a black neckring. Beneath the neckring a blue-green collar exists. The middle two tail feathers are blue tipped with white while the secondary feathers are yellow-green tipped with yellow. The abdomen are lighter, a more yellowish green while the wings are darker green. Under-wing covert greenish-blue. Maroon red shoulder patches are found in cock but most hens don’t have them. The upper mandible is bone coloured and the lower dark to black. Hens: Head bluish grey without the black ring and the collar yellow. Young birds resembles the hens but with a much shorter tail and duller colour.

Crossbreeding between the plum-head and the Blossom-head took place because of ignorance, take note of the differences. The tip of the tail (white or yellow), the wing patch (absent or not) and the under-wing cover (greenish-blue or green). Piercing eye with a yellow iris.

Length: 34cm

Weight: 90g

Origin: Range – India, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka

Status – Widespread and common in variety of habitats, declining in Sri Lanka

Aviculture: Freely imported at one stage, now established and often seen. They are tolerant towards other parakeets and are known to be peaceful with finches.

Accommodation: Walk-in aviary 2-3m or suspended-aviary 1.8m long, protected against freezing temperatures witch they are sensitive to.

Diet: Mixture of small seeds with limited sunflower and a good soft-food mix.

Breeding: Double wire is needed. Nestbox of 40X20X20cm with entrance of 7cm. Cocks become more aggressive at breeding time. Pairs do not bond for live. The courtship of the male is preformed by walking up and down the perch while spreading tail feathers, nodding the head and pulling up the tail.

Clutch: 4-5 but occasionally 6 eggs (usually single-brooders)

Incubation: 23 days (birds are easily disturbed by nest inspections). Pairs are not always successful at raising their young.

Young in nest: 7 weeks and sexually mature at 2-3years.

 

Mutations: Known in SA are the Lutino, Cinnamon, Pastel, Dilute, Greygreen, Pied and Blue. (It is not known if any Opaline’s are in SA) All these mutations are kept by a handful of breeders and are seldom seen.

Malabar Parakeet (Blue-winged Parakeet)Psittacula colomboides
Description: These birds when mature make a beautiful picture and will always be remembered. Cocks: Head, back and breast are bluish grey with a faint hint of pink, violet blue above the beak and green from the cere to the eye region. The black neckring runs around the whole neck, broader to the front. A turquoise ring just below the black ring. The lower abdomen area is yellowish green with a backside darker green. The upper wing feathers are all rimmed pale yellow with blue flight feathers while the rumped is turquoise. The under-wing covert green. The lower mandible black with a red upper mandible. Tail feather are green on top and yellow below with the two middle feathers blue. The eyes are dark coloured with a yellow iris and the legs and feet grey with black nails. Hens: Hens lack the turquoise neckring wile the green in the eye area are less. Where the upper mandible in the cock is red it is black in young and the hens. Young: All young have somewhat shorter tails while the orange red beak turns black after the first mould. The upper beaks of young male will start to turn red at reaching maturity around two years.

Length: 38 cm

Weight: 100-110g

Origin: India (birds of the wetter areas)

Aviculture: Established but not often seen and not a prolific breeder.

Accommodation: Walk-in aviary 2-3m or suspended-aviary 1.8m long. Bigger aviaries are used by most people because of the rarity and beauty. Not tolerant to cold.

Diet: Mixture of small seeds with limited sunflower and a good soft-food mix, extra fruit are needed.

Breeding: Double wire is needed. Nestbox of 50X20X20cm with entrance of 7cm. During the mating season the male will lower his body, raise his head and tail while jumping from branch to branch. Breeders can be paired up with another partner with minimal problems, if aggression occurs it will be from the hen.

Clutch: 4 eggs (usually single-brooders, female alone. Cock does not assist with feeding of the chicks up to leaving the nest)

Incubation: 24 days (birds are easily disturbed by nest inspections) but most birds are excellent parents.

Young in nest: 7 weeks and sexually mature at 2-3years (but can be bred at 18months).

Mutations: None that we know of

Intermediate ParakeetPsittacula intermedia
Description: Opinions differ among Aviculturist whether the Intermediate are a hybrid or a specie. When looking at the birds closely a difference can be seen that indicates them to be specie. The lower mandible of the hybrid is always black wile that of the specie is bone-coloured yellow. Cocks: The birds are predominantly green with a yellow-green belly and lower breast. Forehead and periophthalmic region rufous pink and remainder of head slaty-purple. The nape is turquoise while cocks have a red shoulder patch witch lack in hens. Under-wing covert bluish-green. Tail feathers are blue, tipped yellow. Eyes black with yellow iris and feet grey with dark nails. The upper mandible orange with a yellow lower one.

Length: 36cm

Weight: 100g

Origin: Occur in the overlapping areas of the Plum-head and the Slaty-head in Northern parts of India.

Aviculture: Never imported, not known to be established or seen here. Birds known in SA could be hybrids and if any pure-bred birds do exist, they should be pampered.

Accommodation: Walk-in aviary 2-3m or suspended-aviary 1.8m long.

Diet: Mixture of small seeds with limited sunflower and a good soft-food mix.

Breeding: Double wire is needed. Nestbox of 50X20X20cm with entrance of 7cm.

Clutch: 3-5 but occasionally 6 eggs (should be as in Plum-heads)

Incubation: 23 days

Young in nest: 7 weeks and sexually mature at 2-3years.

Mutations: None that we know of.

Blossom-headed ParrakeetPsittacula roseata
Description: These birds are pale coloured if compared to the Plum-head and noticeable smaller. Two subspecies are known, roseata roseata and roseata juneae. Cock: Green with a somewhat lighter breast and belly, under-wing covert green. Head colour more pink than the purple of the Plum-head. The pink has a blue haze towards the black necking witch is wide underneath the beak and becomes narrower towards the nape. No green blue haze underneath the black neckring as seen in the Plum-head while the shoulder patch is bigger. Tail blue tipped yellow. Hen: As in the cock but with a light grey head bordered with a yellowish green ring that replace the black ring. They retain the shoulder patch. Both sexes have yellow upper mandible and dark grey lower, legs grey and iris yellow. Young birds have greenish grey heads and no shoulder patches.

The subspecies juneae (Burmese Blossom-head) is overall lighter and more yellow-green.

Length: 30cm

Weight: 85g

Origin: Occurs in Assam, Pakistan and Bangla Desh. (Subspecies occurs in Burma, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam)

Aviculture: Established but not often seen.

Accommodation: Walk-in aviary 2-3m or suspended-aviary 1.8m long.

Diet: Mixture of small seeds with limited sunflower and a good soft-food mix.

Breeding: Double wire is needed. Nestbox of 40X20X20cm with entrance of 6cm.

Clutch: 3-5 eggs (single-brooders)

Incubation: 23 days (birds are easily disturbed by nest inspections)

Young in nest: 7 weeks and sexually mature at 2-3years.

Mutations: A Pied and Lutino are known.

Emerald-collared ParrakeetPsittacula calthorpae
Description: The smallest and one of the rarest of the Psittacula family. These birds are predominant green with grey head, shoulders and mantle while under-wing covert green. There are some green above the beak and the shoulder patches are large yellowish green areas. In the neck they have an emerald green ring, while a black ring is present. The tail feathers are cobalt blue with a yellow edge. Eyes are dark with pale yellow iris while the legs are grey with black nails. Cocks: Red upper mandible tipped yellowish while the lower mandible is red with some black. Hen: Beak black-grey and plumage duller overall. Young: Predominantly green and an orange beak which turn black within four months. After one year the beak turn to the colour of mature birds.

Length: 28cm

Weight: 80g

Origin: Sri Lanka

Aviculture: Rare world wide, kept in SA known to have bred.

Accommodation: Walk-in aviary minimum length 3,6m.

Diet: Mixture of small seeds, limited sunflower and a good soft-food mix.

Breeding: Double wire is needed. Nestbox of 50X20X20cm with an entrance of 6cm.

Clutch: 3 or 4 eggs.
Incubation: 25 days

Young in nest: 7 weeks and matures around 3 years.

Mutations: None known.

Compound by
Fanie Klopper

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