Family: Psittaculidae (Parrots)
Species: P. Eupatria
Weight: 200 – 300g
Height: 23in / 58cm
Wingspan: 15 – 17in / 37 – 43 cm
Appearance: Alexandrine Parakeets are the largest birds of all parakeets and compared to the the species in general have long tails (8.5–14.0 in). They are mostly coloured in green with a yellowish-green abdomen. The external tail feathers are green on the upper side and yellow on the underside. Reddish-brown patches at the top of the wings are typical for this parakeet. The male birds have a blue-grey sheen on their cheeks and nape. The beak is red with yellow tips and the legs are grey.
Procreation: Alexandrine Parakeets reach sexual maturity at the age of 3 years and at this age their sexual dimorphism becomes visible. They are some of the easiest parrots to breed in captivity. The natural breeding season is long from November to April. The female lays 2-4 eggs with an incubation period of about 4 weeks. Both parents take care for the juveniles until they reach the age of 4 months.
Temperament: Alexandrine Parakeets are gentle, energetic, independent, smart and very playful birds. They are not as affectionate as the Cockatoo species, but are very interactive, good mimics and enjoy their owners’ company. They require time and attention, but are much more independent than most parrots. Alexandrine Parakeets love to play in water and also with toys.
Talkativeness: As easy-going, social birds, Alexandrine Parakeets are very trainable. They have the ability to imitate human sounds and words, and indeed any sound they hear in their surrounding environment. They have the intelligence of the larger parrots, but generally speaking a more even temperament and quieter personalities. They can make interesting companions who are easier to care for than most parrots.
Environment: Alexandrine Parakeets do require a lot of space. They need large cages at least 90cm in height and length. They’re usually more relaxed when kept outdoors but can also live in a house, as long as they have space to play. In the breeding season, males and females should be separated in different cages, as the females become intolerant and territorial at this time. Alexandrine Parakeets require also a lot of toys they can chew and play with. Bored parrots can become aggressive and prone to feather plucking.
Preferred Food: Seeds, nuts, fruits (dry and fresh), vegetables.
Relationship with People: Like most large birds, Alexandrine Parakeets have a tendency to become one-person birds if they are not proper socialised. With the proper care, attention and time spent playing and training, these birds can develop great, loving personalities. Alexandrine Parakeets are not the best pets for inexperienced bird owners, but are much easier to deal than many parrots. They’re neither as loud nor as strong-willed as most parrot species.
Common Health Problems: Polyomavirus, psittacosis, aspergillosis and bacterial infections.
Lifespan: average 40 years.
The primary goal when teaching a bird how to speak is to establish a good relationship with the pet. If such trusting relationship is not to be found, the owner should put in the needed time and effort to build one from the ground up. Distrustful or frightened parrots will not be inclined to repeat the owner’s words.
The earlier an Alexandrine is handled, the better the bird will respond to training. Toys are an essential part of the training routine, for they keep the birds entertained and occupied. Such objects should not necessary be expensive. For most birds, small children toys are a viable choice, for they are usually made from safe and non-toxic materials and are easily obtainable from garage sales or charity shops.
Parrots are natural mimics. They will try and imitate any sound they hear. One should begin with several two- or three-syllable words or phrases, pronounced with proper articulation and with joy. An efficient method of setting speech patterns in place is through their frequent repetition. Training should be performed outside of the cage and no external stimuli should disrupt the process. When the owner speaks to the bird, that person should try to sound friendly and encouraging. This will allow the bird to associate different phrases with their responses and will create an enjoyable experience for both bird and owner. One may teach Parakeets to speak better than their usual high-pitched voices. Training should commence once the bird is relaxed. It is recommended to keep training sessions short, not exceeding more than 10 to 15 minutes at a time. In the beginning, one should only use simple words and sentences, for example “Hello” and “Good morning”.
The owner should first attempt to establish direct contact with the parrot. For the purposes of safety, it is recommended to start with the bird’s beak. Doing so will allow one to easily avoid the bird should the latter attempt to bite. The process should be initiated by placing one’s hand in front of the parrot and slowly moving it closer. If the parrot attempts to bite or move away, the owner should stop and wait for several seconds until the bird calms down. The parrot should then be offered a treat. This procedure should be repeated to the point where the owner is able to hold the parrot and touch its head and wings. As progress is made, one will no longer have to reward these taming manoeuvres with treats. The parrot has to be disciplined through daily handling.
Keeping the parrot motivated is what defines a successful training. The parrot must crave the rewards, otherwise they will not achieve the desired effect. There are several trouble-free ways to ensure that the parrot feels motivated by food rewards. Alexandrines usually consume their meals during mornings and evenings. As a result, training is best done during these periods of time. An efficient time to train the parrot would be when hunger is at its highest peak. Conversely, the owner would gain nothing should the bird be trained right after a meal. One thing the owner could do is to take the food out of the cage overnight. In the morning, one should first train the bird and then put the meal back in the cage. The bird may then eat as much as it pleases, however the food should be once more taken away prior to the evening training session.
It is important to provide the bird with sufficient amounts of food after training sessions so that the animal can maintain a healthy weight. A balanced diet should be present, pellets serving as a solid nutritional basis. Fresh vegetables, fruits, and grains may also be provided in moderation. The parrot’s favourite foods, however, should be saved for training sessions.
The Alexandrine Parakeet is a member of the Psittaculidae family. The species name P. eupatria comes from either Latin or a Greco-Latin combination. The prefix eu- translates to “good” or “noble”, while the suffix -patriais is a Latin word for “fatherland” or “ancestry”. Therefore, the scientific name translates as “of noble fatherland” or “of noble ancestry”.
The parrots are named after Alexander the Great who was known for exporting numerous quantities of this bird from Punjab to various European and Mediterranean countries. There, the royalty considered these animals as valuable possessions.
The species is said to be uncommon in Cambodia. Their population is greatly reduced and the birds are now observed only locally, specifically in the northern and north-eastern areas. The species has naturalized in numerous European countries, namely in Germany, the south of England, Belgium, Greece, western Turkey and the Netherlands. The Alexandrine Parakeet inhabits a variety of moist and dry forests and woodlands, as well as mangroves and plantations, mainly below 900m.
These birds are constantly captured and traded as cage-birds. Even though they disappeared from Thailand, nestlings still appear in illegal trades at Bangkok bird markets despite their possible Cambodia origin. Loss of habitat and degradation also pose a serious threat to the species. The parrots have been listed as Near Threatened because, despite remaining common in some areas, their population is suspected to be rapidly declining. This decline is spurred by an on-going habitat loss, persecution and trapping processes.
As is the case with all parrot species, balanced nutrition has a significant impact on Alexandrine Parakeets’ well-being. The majority of Alexandrine Parakeets prefer a diet consisting of high quality pellet and seed mix, supplemented with a fair amount of bird-safe fruits and vegetables. Packaged bird food, on the other hand, is available in all shapes, sizes, colours and ingredients.
Birds’ eating habits are similar in nature to those of humans. Below are the recommended percentages for each type of food that should be a part of every Parakeet’s diet:
- Grain products – 50% of diet.
- Vegetables and fruits – 45% of diet.
- Dairy and meat – 5% of diet.
- Seed and nuts – about 1% of diet.
Even though seeds are easily found in the wild, they do not amount to even half of what parrots usually eat. In addition to those, most wild parrots eat leaves, stems, vines, shoots, vegetables, fruits, flowers, insects and insect larvae. Captive birds possess the same dietary needs, thus an all-seed diet would prove inefficient.
Alexandrine Parakeets are exceptionally active birds that require frequent exercising in order to maintain their physical and emotional health. A large flight cage is preferable for these birds – they need a certain amount of freedom to move about without damaging their long tail feathers. A pet Alexandrine Parakeet should be allowed to stretch, play and exercise outside of its cage for a minimum of 3 to 4 hours a day. This playtime should always be supervised in a safe, “bird-proof” area as the bird’s inherent curiosity may lead to undesired consequences. It is recommended to provide the bird with enough toys for the animal to play with and chew on.
Alexandine Parakeets tend to produce loud noises, thus they may not be suitable for owners that are surrounded by neighbours. Their voices are able to carry for miles and one may face challenges when attempting to train such birds in an apartment or condominium setting.
The bird needs access to a sleeping cage, which should be covered at night and placed in a quiet corner within the household so that the bird may sleep untroubled. A “starter” cage, initially designed for weaning and fledgling chicks may later be re-purposed into a sleep (or boarding) cage. It is recommended for parrots to sleep between 10 to 12 hours a day in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Another important aspect of training is socialization. A well-socialized bird is curious and gregarious, takes an interest in its surroundings and thrives on attention.