Asiatic & African Parakeets / Ringnecks- Psittacula / Long-tailed Parakeets
The vibrant and colorful ringneck parrots are visually appealing and tame easily. Most of them readily breed in captivity resulting in an ample supply of young birds for the pet trade.
Owners describe them as smart birds that learn concepts quickly and love to show off. Many of them are very talented talkers, speaking with a clarity that can easily be compared to that of the Quakers, Grays and Amazons - species well known for their talking abilities. Contrary to rumors, both the male and the female are capable of speech. They learn words and phrases in a very short span of time without any training for the most part. They just learn by listening. Of course, should training be provided, their vocabulary can be significantly increased.
- Alexandrine Parakeets
- Indian Ringnecks
- Moustached / Mustached / Java Parakeets
- Plum-headed Parakeets aka Plumheads
- Rose-ringed Parakeets
- Slaty-headed Parakeets
- Please click here for a complete species index with links to species pages.
Personality / Pet Potential
The Ringneck is highly intelligent and, for the right owner, can make an excellent pet. They must be handled consistently in order to remain tame. If not sufficient interaction is provided, they will quickly revert to their wild behavior. However, well socialized Ringnecks generally have pleasant personalities.
They learn concepts quickly and like to perform tricks, such as untying knots, ringing a bell, picking up objects and even stringing beads,
These energetic parakeets love to fly and explore; and are very playful. They need lots of toys to keep them entertain. They particularly like chew toys. The toys that should be provided to them are wood chews, perches, swings and assorted bird-safe toys that you can get hold of that is appropriate for their size. Small toys that they can easily hold in their claws are good choices.
Besides flying, which is important for all parakeets, these birds love to chew! Be sure you provide them with lots of assorted toys and wood chews, perches and swings.
Although mimicking speech is not their strongest point, they can be taught to speak, whistle and mimic other sounds. They can be very vocal and noisy -- rivaling their noisy larger cousins. They can also develop screaming habits, if teased. Their piercing, high-pitched calls can annoy intolerant family members or even close neighbors.
There is a general misconception that males are friendlier than females, but there is no real basis for this. However, we have noticed in the past that some - more than other parrot species - tend to pick their favorites amongst genders. Some bond more easily with males and others with females - and often it appears that they are showing a preference for the opposite sex (male ringnecks favoring female caretakers, and vice versa).
In summary, Ringnecks are enjoyed for their amazing beauty and fun personalities; but they are not the easiest parrots to keep. We only recommend them to people who have had experience with larger parrots and are willing to put in the time and effort to keep them well socialized and entertained.
Housing / Set-up
Ringnecks require a roomy cage with room for lots of toys and several perches.
The general rule is that the more time they have to spend in the cage, the larger it needs to be.
Ideally, have a "toy box" with toys for your pet and rotate those in the cage frequently.
Within their natural range, Ringnecks mostly breed between February and March, although some breeding activities have been observed in April.
Most parrot species mate for life; however, this is not the case with the Ringnecks.
They nest in tree cavities - either natural or excavated by the birds themselves using their beaks and claws. If they excavated the nest cavity themselves, the entrance hole is usually a circular, ~2 inch + opening. They may use the deserted nests of Woodpeckers and Barbets. They may even take advantage of holes in old walls and buildings to make their nests in.
The average clutch consists of 2 - 6 whitish eggs. These eggs are incubated for about 22 - 24 days.
The young fledge when they are about 6 - 7 weeks old.
Ringnecks reach reproductive maturity when they are about 1 - 1 1/2 years old. However, they may not breed until they are 2 to 4 years old. Females may successfully start breeding as early as 1 year and males at 2 years.
These beautiful parakeets are generally hardy once established in an aviary. They are generally good parents and can be a good choices for those wishing to start breeding larger birds. Since they don't form close pair bonds, they are easy to pair up, split up and re-pair, if necessary. The actual act of mating is preceded by a long and involved courtship that involves the male feeding the female, "dancing" and bowing.
They are unsuitable, however, as "starter birds," and should not be placed in mixed species collections due to aggressive tendencies. Although they are being kept successfully with larger species in spacious aviaries.
The aviary construction should be a steel frame with heavy duty wire netting (i.e., 16g welded mesh). As they like to chew, wood construction is unsuitable for them. For adjacent flights, double wired partitions are needed, as they will attack those that hang on to the wide of the aviary, causing damage to their feet and beaks. For better breeding results, consider visual barriers.
Ringnecks are active birds that do best in large flights or aviaries that allow them to fly and exercise. A good size flight would be 10'x 10' x 15' (3 x 3 x 5 meters). The minimum length of a flight should be 7 feet (2 meters).They should be provided a suitable sheltered area that protects them from draft, cold weather and rain. In warmer areas, this can be achieved by covering part of the aviary (both the sides and the roof) with clear or opaque corrugated roofing material. The rest should be kept open to give access to sun and rain. Those kept in colder climates may need a heated sheltered area as they are susceptible to chilling and frost bitten toes.
Non-toxic leafy branches make excellent perches and should be placed at both ends of the flight for them to chew and perch on. The Ringnecks will chew any leaves, flowers and fruiting bodies off, as well as gnaw on the wood, which provides entertainment and good beak exercise. These branches will need to be replaced regularly.
If the birds are kept in a communal / aviary setting, it is best to separate breeding pairs for the breeding season, as they will be more aggressive during this time. Best results are achieved if each breeding pair has its own flight, ensuring that the pairs can't see each other. As these birds don't form strong pair bonds, they may "flirt" with birds in other aviaries which could potentially interfere with breeding successes for both pairs. This being said, it is possible to keep two pairs in a large flight - however, both pairs need to be introduced into the flight at the same time to prevent territorial aggression.
Ringnecks usually only raise one brood a season - although if one clutch is removed for artificial incubation or lost for whatever reason, the female will usually lay another clutch to replace the previous one. In warmer areas of the world (such as southern USA, South Africa and Austalia), they regularly produce two clutches.
It is important to discourage breeding when temperatures are still chilly as this increases the chance of problems, such as egg binding, chilled eggs or chicks, or dead or crippled chicks. Breeders may remove the nesting boxes or seal the entrance holes to the boxes until weather warms up to discourage early nesting. Click here for more tips on discouraging hormonal behavior.
It is best to provide two nesting boxes for each pair to choose from. The nesting birds may show a preference for a nest box of the type and size they themselves were hatched and raised in. If this information is not available, providing nestboxes or logs of various sizes and types, and placed in various locations within the aviary, may make it easier for the parents to make their choice.
It is important to place the nest box in a sheltered part of the aviary - at a height of about 5 - 6 feet (1.5 - 1.8 meters) above the ground. However, don't place it too close to the roof as this could cause heat problems in the summer. Once they have chosen a nest box, the other one can be removed. Their preferred nest box should be kept for their exclusive use. The nest box should be removed and thoroughly cleaned at the end of the breeding season, to prevent contamination of mites, parasites and disease pathogens.
Nest box options / considerations:
- A solid deep log - mostly used for wild-caught birds that were raised in natural tree cavities. Appropriate Size: 8 - 10 inches (~200 - 250 mm)
- Nestbox: An appropriate nestbox size would be 7 - 10” wide x 7 - 10” deep x 18 - 30” high. As RIngnecks are heavy chewers, the nest box should be made of a thick timber or 3/4-1 inch thick exterior quality plywood. Depending on the depth of the nest box may require a climbing structure inside the box just below the entrance hole. A removable top / lid is needed to allow for nest inspections.
- The entrance hole can be square or round and should have a diameter of about 3 inches (75 mm) diameter. It should be located about 4 - 6 inches (~100 -150 mm) from the top.
- Nesting material at the bottom of the nest box can consist of soft sieved sand, non-toxic saw dust, wood / pine shavings, dried plant material or other suitable materials.
The average clutch size consists of 3 to 5 white eggs - although sometimes as few as 2 or as many as 6 eggs are laid. The female lays one egg every other day and incubates the eggs alone, while the male feeds her. Incubation may not start until several of the eggs have been laid. The incubation usually lasts between 21 - 24 days. The hatchlings are blind and naked, and completely dependent on their parents for warmth and nutrition.
When caring for chicks, the parents will need to have access to ample supply of food to feed the chicks with.
Ringneck Parrots usually tolerate nest inspections by the care taker; and they should be performed daily to check on the wellbeing of the chicks. Breeders will usually place closed metal leg ring on one of the chick's legs for accurate record keeping or as proof of captive-bred stock, if required.
Those chicks that will enter the pet market should be handraised to ensure tameness and good pet qualities.
The young usually fledge when they are about 6 - 8 weeks old, but they still depend on their parents for another 3 - 4 weeks. The young can be left with their parents 6 months or longer. As the parents get ready for their next breeding session, aggression towards their previous young may occur, at which time they will need to be removed.
In the wild, Ringnecked Parakeets mostly feed on seeds, grains, blossoms, fruits, berries, greens, vegetables, berries, nuts and even nectar.
Flocks of them often forage on farmlands and orchards and are by many farmers considered "crop pests".
They also take advantage of bird feeders in urban gardens.
Especially during the breeding season, the adults and their young have a higher requirement for protein and, therefore, increase their consumption of insects (including beetles), mealworm larvae and pupa.
Ringnecks should be fed a wide variety of foods. A high quality dry food mix that contains seeds, grains and nuts should be available at all times - a Small Hookbill or Cockatiel should be suitable for them. Clean, fresh water for drinking and bathing should also be provided.
Their diet should also include a good amount of leafy dark greens and vegetables (i.e. chard, kale, carrots, corn, celery, squash), as well as fruits (i.e., applies, grapes, pears, persimmons, pomegranates, figs, grapes, bananas).
Wild-picked green foods such as chickweed, seeding grass, dandelion (flowers, roots and leaves), shepherds-purse and sow-thistle make excellent additions to a healthy diet.
Some nutritious human foods, such as cooked beans, cooked chicken, wholegrain rice also add variety to their diet.
Germinated or sprouted seeds are especially important for the breeding season. They should be fed fresh making sure that it is not contaminated by bacteria or molt. It should have a sweet smell. If it smells foul or sour, discard. Frequent rinsing will help prevent spoilage. Please click here for more information on sprouting.
Calcium supplements, such as cuttlefish, shell grit, crushed oyster shell or calcium blocks should be available - particularly during the breeding season.
Millet spray makes a nutritious treat.
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: They can be noisy - albeit not as noisy as their larger cousins. Not everybody can tolerate the natural call of a ringneck parrot, and even though it can't (or should not) be entirely eliminated, there are ways to discourage screaming / screeching in your pet. The 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
- 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. Info on Housing Your Bird
- The 3 Key Elements to Your Pet Bird's Happiness and Health
- Training Your Bird
- Bird Nutrition
- Parrot Products
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