A beautiful bird, the Indian ringneck parakeet is a very popular pet. It may not be right for everyone because it requires a lot of attention and care, but they are very social birds and can become excellent companions for the entire family. These birds love to talk and enjoy a good challenge, which makes training a ton of fun.
Common Names: Indian ringneck parakeet, Indian ringneck parrot, rose-ringed parakeet
Scientific Name: Psittacula krameri manillensis
Adult Size: 16 inches in length including tail feathers and 4 ounces in weight for a medium-sized parrot
Life Expectancy: 25 to 30 years; instances of ringnecks living past 50 have been authenticated
Origin and History
The Indian ringneck parakeet is a sub-species of the rose-ringed parakeet (Psittacula krameri) and the many sub-species are scattered throughout Africa and Asia. The Indian ringneck is an Asiatic parrot and originally from Ceylon though it's now found in many parts of Asia, notably India and Pakistan. They can also be found in western and southern areas of Sudan and are quite popular in the Middle East where they are bred and found in the wild.
In the wild, they live in lightly timbered areas, as well as farmed areas of the countryside. They travel in flocks of 100 or more birds, so they are used to having company.
Indian ringneck parakeets have been kept in captivity from as early as 200 BC. In India, they were regarded as sacred beings after religious leaders began to recognize their ability to clearly mimic human language. Highly regarded by wealthy Indian royals, ringneck parrots were kept in decorative cages and were admired for their colors and charming dispositions.
In the 1920s, aviculturists began breeding captive ringnecks and, with the advent of different color mutations, the popularity of the bird began to explode. Now widely available in the pet trade, Indian ringneck parakeets continue to gain increasing popularity as pets. Their relatively small size and beautiful markings help to make the ringneck a good choice for many bird owners.
Due to many owners releasing unwanted birds in the wild, there are a number of feral populations throughout the world. They're found in Britain as well as Florida and California in the United States and other countries.
Since they can eat crops and clear a field, they are known to be a nuisance to farmers. This threat has also led some states and localities to ban this species. It's important to check with your local wildlife authority to ensure they're legal to own.
Although the Indian ringneck has something of a reputation for being nippy and hard to train, it is largely undeserved. Since they are so smart, ringnecks get bored very easily, and will often resort to chewing and other destructive behavior if left to their own devices.
They also go through a bluffing stage during adolescence that is difficult for some owners to manage. This comes with slight aggression but the phase lasts only a few weeks or months.
Ringnecks that are handled often and properly cared for, however, generally have sweet, charming personalities that make them a favorite of bird enthusiasts everywhere. Their voices are almost comical, as it is a very high-pitched yet sweet little voice. You will also notice that they're great at alerting you to danger, a natural instinct brought with them from the wild that comes with rather loud calls.
They do not have the reputation of being very affectionate, though the females tend to form a stronger bond with owners while the males are more easy-going about it. They are generally a low-maintenance bird—if there is really such a thing. Despite their aloof personalities, they do require a lot of time and attention.
Indian Ringneck Parakeet Colors and Markings
Ringnecks are available in shades ranging from bright yellows, greens, and blues, to albinos, cinnamons, and lutinos. Though the color mutations are common, the normal coloring of this species is a bright lime green with blue tail feathers and yellow under the wings.
They are known as a dimorphic species, meaning that a bird's sex can be determined by its colors and markings. Males sport deep red beaks, black facial markings, and three bands of color around their necks. The black ring develops at about 18 months and blue and pink rings appear by the time they reach 3 years old. Females, while still beautiful, lack the facial and collar bands, although some do display a slight darkening of color around their necks.
Caring for the Indian Ringneck Parakeet
With adequate attention, handling, and love, an Indian ringneck parakeet can quickly become a beloved companion and family member. They enjoy learning new things and are especially proficient with owners who want to challenge their intelligence. That's one reason they develop such large vocabularies and are great at bird tricks.
If you notice any aggressive behavior, it's best to avoid scolding as the bird can develop a lifetime fear of people. Ignoring bad behavior and using positive reinforcement for good behavior is the best way to handle this bird.
The cage for this bird needs to be larger than you might expect. It should accommodate their long tail and let the bird hop around and play when you're not around. Make sure the bar spacing isn't large enough for them to get stuck in or escape through.
Cleaning the food and water daily, perches and toys weekly, and the floor monthly is a must for keeping the bird healthy. Once a year, plan on taking everything outside to be hosed down.
There are many Indian ringneck parrots that are in need of homes. Contact your nearest adoption and education foundation or parrot rescue for help with adopting one of these wonderful birds.
Feeding the Indian Ringneck Parakeet
Wild Indian ringnecks usually feast on a diet of fruits, vegetables, nuts, berries, and seeds. They also enjoy the nectar from flowers and the flowers themselves.
While most vets agree that it is best for captive birds to eat a nutritionally balanced pelleted diet, a ringneck will appreciate a variety of fruits and vegetables in their diet. Leafy greens and vegetables are crucial for any companion parrot to maintain a nutritionally sound diet, and the Indian ringneck parrot is no exception. They can also eat healthy cooked food you would eat and are particularly fond of chicken, though beans, grains, and rice are also acceptable. Avocados and chocolate are toxic to birds.
Some ringneck owners find that their bird will sort out and leave behind pellets if it's mixed with seeds. This is the only thing these birds seem to be picky about eating. If you find that to be the case, offer pellets and seeds separately and rotate them on a regular schedule. Even if they don't eat something right away, they usually come around to it.
As with all birds, food and water containers should be emptied, cleaned, and refilled daily to reduce the risk of bacterial growth and infection.
Parakeets are very active birds. As with most other bird species, it is a good idea to have a safe area for the pet to play and stretch its wings out of its cage for a few hours each day.
Ringnecks also have powerful jaw muscles to maintain. It is wise to provide an array of chewable toys, perches, and cage accessories so the bird is less likely to gnaw on something valuable or dangerous. This species really enjoys puzzles and any complex toys you can find, which should help keep the bird busy as well.
Providing a mister and a dish of water to bathe in will also keep your feathered friend very happy.
More Pet Bird Species and Further Research
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