Lineolated Parakeet (Barred Parakeet): Bird Species Profile

Temperament, Diet, and Care Tips

Lineolated Parakeet

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The lineolated parakeet or barred parakeet, named for its fine lines or barred markings, is one of the calmest and quietest members of the parrot family, making them ideal pets. Sometimes mistaken for budgies, lineolated parakeets or "linnies" are a bit stockier. And, unlike budgies, these birds enjoy walking about as much as they do flying. Linnies like to walk and perch with their bodies almost parallel or horizontal to the ground, while budgies sit or stand upright. These birds also love to play in the water.

Species Overview

Common Names: Lineolated parakeet, barred parakeet, Catherine parakeet, linnie

Scientific Name: Bolborhynchus lineola

Adult Size: 6 to 7 inches

Life Expectancy: 10 years on average in captivity but can reach 20 years with proper care

Origin and History

Lineolated parakeets of various subspecies live in the wilds of Mexico, Central America, and South America. These birds reside in higher-elevation cloud forests and dense rain forests in mountainous areas like the Peruvian Andes. They forage at lower elevations during the winter. In the wild, they live in flocks of up to 20 birds.

Temperament

When properly cared for and hand-fed as babies, lineolated parakeets develop charming and even-tempered personalities. They are incredibly social birds by nature, and they love to spend time with (and sitting on) their owners. About the same size as a budgie or lovebird, it usually has a calmer disposition than either bird.

Known to make comical little pets, the highly social lineolated parakeet makes a very entertaining family member, always eager to spend time playing with its human flockmates. Anyone interested in adopting one of these birds should make sure that they have plenty of time to spend interacting with their new pet, as lineolated parakeets bore easily and need ample daily playtime. 

A lineolated parakeet’s natural call is soft and almost song-like. This intelligent species can learn to talk and whistle. Since it is a quieter species, you can keep a lineolated parakeet in an apartment or similar housing where you have close neighbors.

Speech and Vocalizations

These playful birds are quieter than most parakeets—they tend to chatter rather than screech and can be very able talkers, enunciating clearly, though with a more limited vocabulary than other parrots. These birds are very good at mimicking sounds and whistles. 

Lineolated Parakeet Colors and Markings

Lineolated parakeets in the wild display mostly green feathers overlaid with black and dark green stripes on their backs, wings, and sides. The undersides of the wings are blue and the tail feathers are dark green. They have horn-colored beaks and brown eyes. Captive-bred lineolated parakeets can display an array of color mutations—the feathers change color after leaving the wild—including blue, cobalt, turquoise, and white.

Male and females are nearly identical, although careful observers may notice that the black stripes are more numerous on males. 

Caring for the Lineolated Parakeet

This is a small bird that doesn't require a huge cage, although bigger is always better. For a single lineolated parakeet, the bare minimum is a 24-inch square cage, provided you are giving the bird ample outside-the-cage time each day. These birds also do quite well in aviary environments with other linnies or related small species, but be aware that small flocks may be a bit noisy. 

Although they are not notorious for damage, lineolated parakeets, like all parrot species, will chew and gnaw, so provide your bird with plenty of acceptable chew toys and natural wood branches that will help it distinguish when chewing is acceptable. 

Your lineolated parakeet should be allowed out of his cage to interact with the family for several hours each day. These birds like to walk about on furniture and floors, and some owners report that the birds like to burrow under blankets and fabrics.

Like other parrots, the lineolated parakeet can go through a problematic adolescent period where they attack and bite, but this soon passes and is generally not much of a problem, as the birds aren't large enough to do severe damage. This adolescent period soon passes and gives way to an adorable pet. 

The nails on a lineolated parakeet grow quite fast and will need regular trimming. As it is a rainforest bird, linnies love to bathe in a standing water dish. They enjoy weekly or even daily showers with a spray bottle filled with luke-warm water. Make sure your bird can preen and dry off in a space that is not drafty. 

Common Health Problems

Lineolated parakeets and budgies are susceptible to some of the same diseases as other parrot species, and these are often fatal in such small birds where treatment is difficult.

However, many other problems with small parrots such as linnies and budgies can be vitamin deficiencies, which can be treated and prevented by making sure the diet is varied and includes fresh fruit and vegetables, not just seeds. 

Parakeets are especially prone to fatty tumors, and many experts recommend feeding these small birds sprouted seeds as a preventive measure.

Diet and Nutrition

In the wild, this bird eats various seeds, fruits, insects, and larvae. As with any hookbill species kept as a pet, it is essential to make sure that captive lineolated parakeets are fed a diet of high-quality seed and pellet mix, along with a variety of bird-safe fresh fruits and vegetables.

A bird will eat up to 1 tablespoon of food per day. Offer fresh fruits and vegetables every other day, along with its seed and pellet mix. Also, provide more vegetables than fruits. Fruits can sometimes cause digestive issues. If you notice watery feces, cut back on the frequency of the fruits.

Lineolated parakeets enjoy fresh sprouts and spray millet. Offer calcium in the form of a cuttlebone or a mineral block.

Exercise

Lineolated parakeets are very active birds that spend a lot of energy in the wild playing and interacting with their flockmates, foraging for food, and making sure that predators are not targeting them.

In general, a lineolated parakeet needs 3 to 4 hours of out-of-cage playtime per day to get sufficient exercise. Potential owners should make sure that they can supervise their birds in a safe, bird-proofed area during these play sessions.

Pros
  • Affectionate and calm

  • Intelligent, can learn to talk

  • Quieter, compared to other parakeets

Cons
  • May go through aggressive phase during adolescence that may include some biting

  • Requires at 3 to 4 hours of exercise, mental stimulation

Where to Adopt or Buy a Lineolated Parakeet

Breeders sell lineolated parakeets in the range of $200 to $300. You may also find this bird through rescue or adoption agencies. If you're going the breeder route, make sure that the breeder is reputable by asking them how long they've been breeding and working with the species.

Make sure that the bird you want to take home is alert, active, and exhibits all the signs of a healthy bird, such as bright eyes, clean feathers, and full crops. Rescues, adoption organizations, and breeders where you can find lineolated parakeets include:

More Pet Bird Species and Further Research

Other small parrot species you might want to look into include: 

Otherwise, check out other small bird breeds profiles.

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