Plum-headed Parakeets aka Plum Head
Plum-headed Parakeets (Psittacula cyanocephala) are endemic to Sri Lanka (Ceylon), Rameswaram Island and most of India, as well as Rawalpindi in West Pakistan, Nepal east to Bhutan and West Bengal.
Their preferred habitats are the forest areas and open woodland. Populations undergo local movements, driven mainly by the availability of the fruit and blossoms which make up its diet.
Though this species is not exploited as heavily as the sympatric (of the same geographic region) Alexandrine Parakeet the trade takes its toll on local populations across the range. Population is reduced in urban areas and heavily inhabited zones.
This is a green parrot, averaging 13 - 14 ins (33 - 35 cm) in length, with the tail accounting for about two thirds of the length.
The male's head is red, becoming purple-blue on the back of the crown, nape and cheeks. There is a narrow black neck collar and a black chin stripe. There is a red shoulder patch and the rump and tail are bluish-green, the latter tipped white. The upper beak is orangish-yellow, and the lower beak is dark.
The female has a grey head, corn-yellow upper beak and lacks the black neck collar, chin stripe and red shoulder patch. Immature birds have a green head and both upper and lower beaks are yellowish.
The different head color and the white tip to the tail distinguish this species from the similar Blossom-headed Parakeet (Psittacula roseata).
Females attain the adult plumage at 15 months; young males attain full adult male plumage at about 30 months.
Similar Species ID: This species if often confused with the Blossom-headed Parakeet. The male Plum-headed Parakeet has a darker red head, while the male Blossom-headed Parakeet's head is pink. The Blossom-headed Parakeets have yellow tail tips, while the Plum-headed Parakeet has white tail tips.
The Plum Headed Parakeet are popular pets. They are intelligent birds and many may learn to talk, although not as good as some of the larger parrots.
Most Plum-headed Parrots enjoy being close to their owner, however, they are not considered "cuddly birds" and don't like petting.
As with just about all parrots, they are likely to be timid initially; however, given time, patience, and daily interaction, they should become tame quite easily.
These parrots tend to be more active in an aviary setting and may become apathetic in a cage environment. Their preferred environment should be an aviary, or a setting that allows them to fly and move around freely in a safe environment.
They do well in a communal aviary setting, getting along well with other birds -- however, may be assertive to larger birds in the aviary.
Breeding / Nesting
Breeding Plum-headed Parakeets usually lay clutches averaging 4 - 6 eggs which they incubate for about 21 - 23 days.
Ringneck 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: In the wild, the Plum-headed Parakeet is considered a gregarious and noisy species with range of raucous calls.
Owners, however, describe them as only moderately noisy. In fact, some owners actually state that their plumheaded pet is rather quiet compared to other parrot species -- other than the shrill noises they make when they are alarmed or scared. Individual differences may exist;
or training may explain the different opinions on this topic - or it is likely a combination of both. This being said, 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 Plumheaded 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:A roomy cage is required, as Plumheads need to be provided with a cage or aviary that allows them to move around freely. Special care needs to be taken to protect them from cold temperatures. Toys and safe branches should be provided to them to allow them to entertain themselves. 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
- Parrot Products
In their natural habitat, the plum-headed parakeets nest in holes in trees. Plum Headed Parakeets produce one clutch a year.
These parakeets tend to be more active in an aviary setting and may become apathetic in a cage environment. Their preferred environment should be an aviary, or a setting that allows them to fly and move around freely in a safe environment. They do well in a communal aviary setting, getting along well with other birds -- however, may be assertive to larger birds in the aviary.
The breeding season typically begins in April. The average clutch size is 4 - 6 eggs and the incubation period lasts from 19 to 23 days. The chicks will fledge at about 6 to 7 weeks of age. The females may become aggressive towards the males during the breeding season.
Ringneck Parrots are generally hardy birds. However, the following diseases have been reported in this species:
- Aspergillosis (fungal disease)
- Bacterial infections (pneumonia)
- Hypovitaminosis A
Species: Scientific: Psittacula cyanocephala ... English: Plum-headed Parakeet ... Dutch: Pruimekopparkiet ... German: Pflaumenkopfsittich ... French: Perruche à tête prune
CITES II - Endangered Species
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