Mustached / Moustached / Java-moustached Parakeets
The Moustached or Mustached Parakeet (Psittacula alexandri alexandri) - also known as the Java Mustached or Red-breasted Parakeet - is endemic to the Himalayas and southern China to Indonesia.
The Mustached Parakeet is the nominate form of eight different subspecies.
The average lifespan of the Mustached Parakeet is 20 to 25 years.
The Mustached / Moustached Parakeet is a medium-sized parrot, averaging 13 - 16 inches in length (33 - 40 cm) and weighing it at 100 to 130 grams at maturity.
Its most distinguishing feature is its moustache-like markings on the sides of its face, resembling a moustache. In most subspecies of Moustached Parakeets, the males have red beaks and the females have black.
The male Moustached Parakeet is attractively shaped, slim, with a long and thin tail, green plumage, a grey head, red bill, and distinguishing markings on its head and face. The area around the eyes is greenish and his heads have a pretty bluish tinge. There is a thin line across its forehead and wide stripes on his cheeks. The plumage on the breasts, throat and upper abdomen is pink / salmon extending half way to the vent.
The hen has a bluish tinge through the face region. They generally have a duller pink color on their chests and their middle tail feathers are shorter than the male's feathers.
Immature birds have shorter tails, light pink bills, and the incomplete cheek stripes easily distinguish
Young birds are difficult to sex, however, breeders have successfully identified males and females. The hen's head is more evenly arched from the cere to the back of the head. The young males tend to be flatter on the forehead. Hens appear to have a darker bluish face.
Personality / Mustached Parakeets as Pets
The Mustached Parakeet is an intelligent and outgoing bird that is gaining increasing popularity worldwide. These parrots are outgoing and playful, and do well if properly socialized. They can be a bit bossy and aggressive, if not disciplined appropriately, but they can still make good first birds. They are very intelligent, and need a good size cage with plenty of toys to prevent boredom.
Though this bird is related to the Ringnecks, they are quite different in personality. They are reported to be mellower and not as noisy as the Ringnecks, though the Mustached Parakeet has been described as "feisty." They are generally calmer than the Indian and African Ringnecks as well as the Plumhead.
They are also excellent eaters and will readily sample new foods that other birds may pass up.
The Mustached Parakeet is related to the Ringneck Parakeets, and like them, they can often talk, though they are not as clear of speech as some of the larger parrots, such as the African Grey. However, they are reported to speak with more clarity than the Ringnecks.
It is important that Mustached Parakeets are handled regularly from a young age, as they can become aggressive, if they are not well socialized and handled regularly.
If you want a smaller parrot with a lot of personality, the Mustached Parakeet may be the bird for you. However, they are also "opinionated" and have been described as stubborn. Not surprisingly so, considering their intelligence. Obedience training is strongly recommended.
The Mustached Parakeet is a voracious chewer and should be provided plenty of chew toys. Other toys are also a must to stimulate this intelligent bird. If they are not given plenty of exciting toys, they will grow bored and behavioral problems can result.
Like other parrots they require companionship, and if you keep them singly you must be able and willing to spend large amounts of time with them. The same is true if you want to maintain their tameness. They should be handled regularly and be well socialized.
In the wild this bird is often seen in flocks of 10 to 50 individuals. These flocks may often be heard before they are seen. This is a fact that should be kept in mind before deciding to purchase a Mustache Parakeet.
Breeding hens may lay 3 to 4 eggs in each clutch which she incubates for about 22 days.
Moustached parrots are less demanding than other parrot species, which makes them an excellent choice for someone who wants to "step up" from an easy-going and easy-care cockatiel or budgie.
Consistent training and behavioral guidance from a young age is recommended to ensure potential owners enjoy a bird free of destructive and annoying habits.
Behavioral challenges that ringnecks present include:
- Chewing: Any parrot will chew. In nature, they use their beak to "customize" their favorite tree, to enlarge the size of their nest in a tree hollow. Doing this keeps their beaks in good condition. The problem is excessive and undesirable chewing. Undisciplined ringnecks may chew on electric wiring potentially causing house fires. The owner needs to provide plenty of "healthy" chewing opportunities (bird toys, natural wood branches, etc.) and training is necessary to teach a parrot what is "off-limits."
- Jealousy / Aggression: The ringneck parrots can be jealous of other family members and pets. They can develop a bond with only one human and refuse to interact with other people, even attacking them in some cases. Although this is a small bird it does not seem to believe so, and will attack larger birds and even dogs if it feels it or its human is threatened. Owners should be cautious in multiple-pet homes. Continuing to socialize the hand reared pet bird from a young age and letting many people handle and interact with it can prevent single-person bonding and allow it to become an excellent family pet.
- Noise: Moustached parakeets are generally calmer and quieter than other ringneck parakeets. Still, not everybody can tolerate the natural call of a parrot, and even though it can't (or should not) be entirely eliminated, there are ways to discourage screaming / screeching in your pet. The Moustached Ringneck is known for its talking and whistling ability, and teaching and encouraging your pet to talk is one way to reduce undesirable screeching in your pet.
Continuous obedience training is recommended ...
- AvianWeb Resources: I put together web resources for you to help you understand your pet bird and properly direct him. Please visit this website for valuable tips on parrot behavior and training. If you found a way to resolve a "parrot behavioral issue" please share it with others.
- If you are, as I am, a visual learner and prefer step-by-step instructions to train your pet, I recommend:
- Procuring your Parrot
- Click here for a Breeders Listing
- Housing Your Bird - Ringnecks love to climb and play and need to be provided with a cage that allows them to move around freely and toys to entertain themselves with. Please refer to the following websites for information:
- The 3 Key Elements to Your Pet Bird's Happiness and Health
- Training Your Bird
- Bird Nutrition: In the wild this species feeds on fruits, berries, flowers, nuts, seeds, nectar, and leaf buds. In captivity, they are generally fed a good quality basic parrot/parakeet mix, but it's best to reduce the Sunflower seeds in the warmer months. Please refer to bird nutrition for further information on feeding your parakeet for long life and good health.
- Parrot Products
Distribution / Habitat:
The Mustached Parakeet is among the more widespread species of the genus and is the species which has the most geographical variations. Most of the subspecies are confined to small islands or a cluster of islands in Indonesia. One subspecies occurs in the Andaman islands, India and one subspecies occurs in continental South East Asia and partly extending to North-eastern parts of South Asia along the foothills of the Himalayas. Some of the island races may be threatened by the wild bird trade. The nominate race which occurs in Java is close to extinction. Feral populations of this species have now established themselves in cities like Mumbai and small numbers occur in other cities such as Chennai and Bangalore in India.
Breeding and Propagation:
The Mustached Parakeets are commonly bred in captivity. They reach maturity somewhere between 2 and 3 years of age. It is recommended that birds be paired up at a young age. The female may at times dominate the males. Courtship starts in late winter and the hens can be seen begging the males to feed them.
In the wild they breed between the months of December and April, though this is variable depending on the weather and altitude. A thick-walled hollow log can be provided as a nesting box. If not available, a commercially available nesting box should suffice.
They require long aviaries, rather than wide, as they are strong, straight flyers. They also like a protected area when breeding. The entry-door to the aviary should be at the opposite end. Double-wire between flights is recommended to prevent birds in adjoining aviaries from biting each other - especially during breeding season.
Egg laying generally commences early spring and clutches vary from 2 to 4 eggs, which are incubated for about 22 days. The young fledge in 52 days. Palm fronds should be placed at the aviary front and leafy branches must be placed at the back to protect the fledging young from hurting themselves as they hit the aviary walls and fall to the aviary floors. If this is not done, many of the young will die of head injuries or severely damage their scalps. Fledging chicks don't have a great amount of control as they start flying.
The young can be left in with the parents for 9 months, but must then be removed as the parent will be ready to bred again. The young wean at 12 - 14 weeks.
Rearing food is very important, such as sprouted sunflower seed, soaked chick peas, diced apple, celery, raw or boiled corn, green feed, s well as shell grit, coarse sand and pieces of charcole. Supplementing with multi-vitamisn and liquid calcium is especially important prior to egg laying.
Ringneck Parrots are generally hardy birds. However, the following diseases have been reported in this species:
- Aspergillosis (fungal disease)
- Bacterial infections (pneumonia)
- Hypovitaminosis A
Taxonomy & Other Data:
Species: Scientific: Psittacula alexandri alexandri aka Palaeornis alexandri alexandri ... English: Moustached Parakeet, Javan Parakeet ... Dutch: Roseborstparkiet, Alexander Parkiet ... German: Rosebrustbartsittich ... French: Perruche barbe
Sub-Species / Races Including Nominate: alexandri, fasciata, abbotti, cala, major, perionca, dammermani, kangeanensis | CITES II - Endangered Species
Detailed Description: green; head grey with marked bluish tinge; eye area washed with green; chin, broad cheek-stripe and narrow line over forehead to eye black; throat, breast and upper abdomen salmon-pink; lower abdomen and under tail-coverts green with variable blue tinge; median wing-coverts green-yellow; under wing-coverts pale green; upperside of middle tail-feathers blue with green-yellow tips, outer tail-feathers blue-green; tail underside dirty olive-yellowish; upper and lower beaks are red with pale tip; iris pale yellow; feet grey. Female as male with red upper and lower beaks, but salmon-pink breast duller; middle tail-feathers on average shorter. Immatures green with whitish forehead and incomplete black cheek-stripe; median wing-coverts with yellow-green tinge; tail noticeably shorter; bill pale red
Description: As Indian Moustached / Indian Red-breasted Parakeets, but plumage generally much paler; grey head with only light lilac-blue tinge; breast and upper abdomen pale salmon-pink washed lightly with lilac-blue; upper beak is red, lower beak is black; larger. Female as male, but breast and abdomen without lilac-blue tinge; pink extends up to side of neck; upper and lower beaks is black. | Length: 36 cm (14 ins), wing length 163 - 181 mm (6.5 - 7 ins)
Distribution: Andaman Islands | CITES II - Endangered Species
Species: Scientific: Psittacula alexandri abbotti aka Palaeornis alexandri abbotti ... English: Andaman Moustached Parakeet ... Dutch: Andaman Roseborstparkiet ... German: Andamanen Bartsittich ... French: Perruche barbe du Abbott
Description: As Indian Moustached / Indian Red-breasted Parakeets, but plumage slightly paler; grey head without bluish tinge; forehead and eye areas without green tinge; breast and upper abdomen darker pink; less salmon-colour and without lilac-blue tinge; upper beak is red, lower beak is black; noticeably larger. Female as male but upper and lower beak is black. | Length: 38 cm (15ins), wing length 187 - 203 mm (7.5 - 8 ins)
Distribution: Lasia and Babi Islands, Indonesia | CITES II - Endangered Species
Species: Scientific: Psittacula alexandri major aka Palaeornis alexandri major ... English: Babi Moustached Parakeet ... Dutch: Babi Roseborstparkiet ... German: Babi Bartsittich ... French: Perruche barbe du Lasia
Description: As nominate Mustached Parakeet featured above, but larger and with heavier bill; salmon-pink breast and abdomen feathers slightly darker in some birds; upper and lower beaks are red in both sexes. | Length: 36 cm (14 ins), wing length 172 - 180 mm (6.5 - 7 ins)
Distribution: Karimundjawa Islands, Indonesia | CITES II - Endangered Species
Species: Scientific: Psittacula alexandri dammermani aka Palaeornis alexandri dammermani ... English: Dammerman's Moustached Parakeet ... Dutch: Dammermans Roseborstparkiet ... German: Dammermans Rosenbrustbartsittich ... French: Perruche de Dammerman
Description: As nominate Mustached Parakeet featured above, but breast and upper abdomen darker pink and washed lightly lilac-blue; head uniformly grey-blue; eye and forehead areas with greenish tinge; lower abdomen green lightly tinged blue; upper beak is red, lower beak is black. Female as male, but breast and upper abdomen darker pink without lilac-blue tinge; pink extends up to sides of neck; upper and lower beaks are black. Immatures with grey head and black forehead and cheek markings; but without pink breast; bill pink until 14 days after leaving nest, then becomes dark brown; final colour attained at 12 months. | Length: 33 cm (13 ins), wing length 153 - 171 mm (6 - 6.5 ins)
Distribution: northern India from Dehra Dun area eastwards over Nepal to Assam, East Pakistan, Bangla Desh, Burma, Thailand, Indochina and southern China in the provinces of Yunnan and Kwangsi; also Hainan Island and Mergui Archipelago. | CITES II - Endangered Species
Species: Scientific: Psittacula alexandri fasciata aka Palaeornis alexandri fasciata ... English: Indian Moustached Parakeet ... Dutch: Baard Parkiet ... German: Cochinchina Rosenbrustbartsittich ... French: Perruche barbe à la poitrine rose
Description: As nominate Mustached Parakeet featured above, but with only faint blue tinge to head; median wing-coverts yellowish; bill heavier; upper and lower beaks in both sexes are red. | Length: 33 cm (13 ins), wing length 158 - 161 mm (6 - 6.5 ins)
Distribution: Kangean Islands, Indonesia | CITES II - Endangered Species
Species: Scientific: Psittacula alexandri kangeanensis aka Palaeornis alexandri kangeanensis ... English: Kangean Moustached Parakeet ... Dutch: Kangean Roseborstparkiet ... German: Kangean Rosenbrustbartsittich ... French: Perruche barbe ... First description : Hoogerwerf 1962
Description: As Indian Moustached / Indian Red-breasted Parakeets, but plumage slightly paler; grey head without bluish tinge; forehead and eye areas without green tinge; breast and upper abdomen darker pink, less salmon-colored and without lilac-blue tinge; lower abdomen paler and more yellowish-green; upper beak is red, lower beak is black; larger. Female as male, but upper and lower beaks are black. | Length: 37 cm (14.5 ins), wing length 171 - 194 mm (6.5 - 7.5ins)
CITES II - Endangered Species: populations reduced by trapping for trade. Common in aviculture | Distribution: Nisas Island, Indonesia
Species: Scientific: Psittacula alexandri perionca aka Palaeornis alexandri perionca ... English: Nias Moustached Parakeet ... Dutch: Nias Roseborstparkiet ... German: Nias Bartsittich ... French: Perruche barbe du Nias
Description: As Indian Moustached / Indian Red-breasted Parakeets, but plumage slightly paler; forehead and eye areas without green tinge; breast and upper abdomen darker pink, less salmon-colour and without lilac-blue tinge; lower abdomen strongly washed pale blue; upper beak is red, lower beak is black; slightly larger. Female as male, but upper and lower beak are black. | Length: 36 cm (14 ins), wing length 168 - 185 mm (6.5 -7 ins)
Species: Scientific: Psittacula alexandri cala aka Palaeornis alexandri cala ... English: Simeuluean Moustached Parakeet ... Dutch: Simeulue Roseborstparkiet German: Simeulue Bartsittich | CITES II - Endangered Species
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