Alexandrine Parakeet

Scientific Name
Psittacula eupatria
Category
Family
Genus
Conservation Status
Least Concern (LC)
Sub-Family
Psittaculinae

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Wikipedia Article

The Alexandrine Parakeet or Alexandrian Parrot (Psittacula eupatria) is a member of the psittaciformes order and of the Psittaculidae family. The species is named after Alexander the Great, who is credited with the exporting of numerous specimens of this bird from Punjab into various European and Mediterranean countries and regions, where they were considered prized possessions for the nobles and royalty. The species name eupatria has its origins from Latin and/or could be a Greco-Latin combination. Where the prefix eu translates into good or noble and the suffix patria is a Latin word translating into fatherland or ancestry. Consequently, the scientific name means of noble fatherland or of noble ancestry.
The following sub-species, many of them allopatric are recognised based on geographical distribution: * Psittacula eupatria eupatria, Alexandrine Parakeet (nominate race) - East India to Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh in the South, Sri Lanka. * Psittacula eupatria avensis, Indo-Burmese Alexandrine Parakeet - Northeast India to Amherst in Myanmar * Psittacula eupatria magnirostris, Andaman Islands' Alexandrine Parakeet - Andaman Islands * Psittacula eupatria nipalensis, Nepalese Alexandrine Parakeet - Eastern Afghanistan, Pakistan, North and central India, Nepal, Bhutan to Assam in Northeast India. * Psittacula eupatria siamensis, Laos' or Siamese Alexandrine Parakeet - Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, north and east Thailand The species has naturalized (species that live and reproduce outside its natural distribution range) itself in numerous European countries. Particularly in Germany, in the south of England, in Belgium, in western Turkey and in the Netherlands where it generally lives amongst or along side flocks of naturalized Psittacula krameri (Ringnecked or Rose-ringed Parakeet). The Alexandrine Parakeet's call is a powerful screech but deeper than that of its very close-relative the Psittacula krameri (Ringnecked or Rose-Ringed Parakeet)
The Alexandrine Parakeet is the largest species of parakeet, often being the largest parrot in their native range. This species measures 58 cm (23 in) in total length with a wing length averaging 18.921.5 cm (7.58.5 in) and a tail length of . Adult birds commonly weigh between . It is mainly green with a blue-grey sheen on its cheeks and nape, particularly in males. The abdomen is yellowish-green, the upperside of the middle tail feathers is blueish-green, the upperside of the external tail feathers is green while the underside of the tail feathers are all yellow. All Alexandrine Parakeets (irrespective of age, gender and/or sub-species) boldly display a maroon (reddish-brown) patch at the top of their wing coverts (commonly called 'shoulder' patch). The shoulder patch is seen in parakeets at their first feathering before fledging. The lower and upper mandibles are red with yellow tips. The adult's irises are yellowish-white and the periopthalmic rings are light grey. The legs are grey except in the P. e. siamensis (Laos' or Siamese sub-species) where they are yellowish-grey. The species is dimorphic in adulthood (3 years and older). The immatures are monomorphic and are similar but duller in appearance to that of the adult females. Adult males always show pitch-black neck rings and large pink bands on their napes (commonly called nape bands). Often males only display a narrow band of blueish-grey above their bold pink nape-band. Adult females frequently show neck ring shadows that are anywhere between light and dark shades of grey. Females never display true black feathers in their neck-rings. Immatures of either genders are very similar to adult females but, as with all genuine parakeet species, the young Alexandrine Parakeets always display shorter middle-tail feathers and thus shorter tails than adults. The adult feathering usually is acquired between 1830 months of age, but may sometimes show up as young as 12 and/or as old as a full 36 months of age. Consequently, it may be difficult to identify the sex of Alexandrine Parakeets by sight with absolute certainty until they are a full 36 months of age. The young males can be identified as soon as they display one (or more) pitch-black feathers of their neck rings and/or one (or more) pink feathers of their nape bands. Often, the young males develop their neck rings and nape bands in two or sometimes three successive moulting seasons. Adult parakeets with neither pitch-black feathers in their neck rings nor pink feathers in their nape bands are usually females. The P. e. nipalensis ssp. (Nepalese Alexandrine Parakeet) is the largest of the species measuring 62 cm (24.5 in) in total length with a wing length averaging between 2024 cm (89.5 in). It is thus recognized as the world's largest genuine Parakeet (short to mid sized Long-Tailed Parrot) species. It looks much like the Nominate sub-species. However, the feathers on the chest and abdomen in both genders display whitish-grey sheens, the cheeks and napes are washed with blue and the adult males display large pink nape bands. The P. e. magnirostris ssp. (Andaman Island's Alexandrine Parakeet) is slightly larger than the nominate sub-species, displaying a wing length anywhere between 2022.5 cm (89 in). It looks much like the nominate race, however, the feathers on the chest and abdomen in both genders display whitish-grey sheens. The maroon 'shoulder' patch is of a much redder (or less brownish) colour than that of the nominate. The beak is larger and more massive. The adult males display large pink nape bands, the blue sheens above the nape-bands are restricted and sometimes absent in some specimens. The P. e. avensis ssp. (Indo-Burmese Alexandrine Parakeet) is of similar size as the nominate species, measuring 58 cm (23 in), displaying a wing length averaging anywhere between 19.422 cm (7.58.5 in) and often mistaken for the Nominate ssp. However, the top of the head and the nape are of a yellowish-green, the blue sheens are restricted to the cheeks and thus absent in the nape. The adult males display thinner and pinker nape-bands. The P. e. siamensis ssp. (Laos or Siamese Alexandrine Parakeet) is the smallest of the species, measuring 56 cm (22 in), displaying a wing length averaging anywhere between 17.920.5 cm (78 in) and looks much like the Nominate ssp. Typically, the top of the head and the nape display pale-blue sheens which can extend to the crown in some specimens. The cheeks are yellowish-green, the 'shoulder' patch is of a nearly brownless red colour and the legs display a pronounced yellowish shade.
The Alexandrine Parakeet is popular among aviculturists. These parakeets can spend the winter in the outdoors as long as they have a shelter where they are protected against extreme cold. Due to their size and exceptionally-long tail, this species requires a cage larger than that of other parakeets. Cages recommended for small to medium Macaw species are appropriate. The Alexandrine Parakeet is one of the oldest captive Parrot species on the Eurasian continent. It is commonly named after its famous European "discoverer", the legendary Emperor Alexander The Great, who had numerous specimens exported back to the various mediterranean countries by his legionaries. From then on, the Alexandrine Parakeet lived and were raised among the various fortunates, nobles & monarchs throughout the Empire's anatolian, European and mediterranean countries.
This Parakeet can be moderately loud depending on its environmental conditions (level of human interaction and interaction with noisy or quiet birds). The Alexandrine Parakeet's call is a powerful screech but deeper than that of its very close-relative the Psittacula krameri (Rose-ringed or Ring-neck Parakeet) It is an active species which typically enjoys playing in water and readily accepts novel foods. Regarded as a vigorous chewer, it is important to provide a constant and regular supply of non-toxic chewing materials such as tree branches or commercially-availble chew toys for parrots. The Alexandrine Parakeet has an average lifespan of 40 years, and as with other Psittacula species, they are considered excellent mimics.
Breeding season is from November to April in their natural distribution range. Average clutch size is 24 eggs measuring 34.0 x 26.9 mm (1 x 1.3 in). The average incubation period is 28 days usually starting with the laying of the second egg. The chicks fledge around seven weeks of age. They are reared for about three weeks and are typically weaned between 12 to 16 weeks of age. They are critically endangered in Pakistan, especially in Punjab province. This is mostly due to loss of habitat (cutting of old tress), and excessive poaching of wild chicks. Although it their sale is officially banned in Pakistan, they can be found openly being sold in markets of Lahore. Trapping pressure to cater to the demands of the pet trade have caused a drastic decline in this species' wild population. It is illegal to trade in Alexandrine Parakeets in India and yet these birds are sold in broad daylight in urban bird markets, suggesting that the Indian government is allocating insufficient resources towards the protection of this species.
The diet consists of seeds, nuts, fruits, berries, buds, flowers and nectars (Salmalia, Butea, Erythrina, Bassia latifolia). Rarely Alexandrines have been observed actively hunting insects, making them one of the few parrot species known to do so, however infrequently. It causes considerable damage to cultures of corn, grains, rice and or chards.
A fresh mix (with or without dehydrated fruits and/or vegetables) of various seeds, grains and nuts generally represent the typical basic diet. Many high-quality pelleted parrot foods are available and most Alexandrines will take to them readily. Pellets are generally nutritionally supeior to packaged seed mixes found in pet stores, and contain less fat. Alexandrines are not particularly prone to obesity, but high-fat diets may lead to fatty-liver disease, which can be fatal, and at the very least will lead to shortened life-span and reduced quality of life. Even when feeding a pelleted base diet, about 10% seed is appropriate. Variety is important both nutritionally and for your bird's enjoyment. Alexandrines are generally not picky eaters and will try almost anything once. Among the food items you can supplement the base diet with are: Cooked and fresh foods, whole grains and cereals, oatmeal, cooked pasta (in moderation), they enjoy edible blossoms and flowers, such as carnations, chamomile, chives, dandelion, daylily, eucalyptus, fruit tree's blossoms, herbs' blossoms, hibiscus, honeysuckle, impatiens, lilac, nasturtiums, pansies, passion flower (passiflor), roses, sunflowers, tulips, and violets, fruits with all pits discarded, larger seeds such as apple varieties should also be removed. banana, all berries varieties, all citrus varieties, grapes, kiwi, mango, melons, nectarine, papaya, peach, all pear varieties, plum. Vegetables, such as carrot, squash, cooked yams, broccoli, cucumber, beetroot, turnip, etc. legumes/pulses and commercial greens and weeds such as bok-choi, broccoli, cauliflower leaves, cabbage leaves, chicory, collard greens, dandelion leaves, endives, espadrille, kelp, mustard plant leaves, seaweeds, spirulina and water cress. Wild harvested greens and weeds such as Bromus, chickweeds, cocksfoot or orchard grasses, dandelions, dogstooth, elymus, fescues, marram grasses, milk thistles, oats and wild oats, plantain (the weed), poa genus (i.e. Blue, Meadow's, Spear, Tussock grasses) may also be given. Well cooked poultry, pork and beef may be given in small quantities, as well as hard-cooked egg (with the shell mixed in), and active culture yogurts. High-protein foods should be fed more often during moulting and breeding. Generally if it is safe for humans to eat, then it is safe for parrots, with a few exceptions. Avocado and rhubarb are reportedly highly toxic for all Parrot species and should be avoided. Onions and large quantities of garlic may lead to anemia in parrots and intake of these should be limited, even though they are not immediately toxic. Parrots do not possess the needed enzymes to properly digest raw dairy products, and although many parrots love cheese and milk, intake should be limited. Avoid any foods that contain caffeine (including chocolate) and foods with high processed sugar content, and that are high in salt or contain sulfites. Birds should never be given alcohol. Alexandrines are social eaters and will appreciate any tidbits of bird-safe human food shared with them at meal times.
Thailand, Mongolia and Iran have issued stamps depicting the Alexandrine Parakeet.