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Bluebonnet Parrot

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Is the Bluebonnet Parrot right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Bluebonnet; Eastern Bluebonnet; Bluebonnet Parakeet; Crimson-bellied Parrot; Crimson-bellied Parakeet; Yellow-vented Bluebonnet (N. h. haematogaster); Red-vented Bluebonnet (N. h. haematorrhous)

Scientific name: Northiella haematogaster

The basics:
The Bluebonnet Parrot is a striking Australian grass parakeet with a neat blue face. Unfortunately, it has a poor reputation as an aggressive, bad-tempered aviary bird that cannot be kept around other birds or pets. These deceptively small, active little birds may look innocent, but there is even a report of a breeding pair chasing and killing a Rose-breasted Cockatoo, which is not itself a timid or defenseless bird. Therefore, this interesting aviary bird is generally recommended for serious specialists only.

There are three subspecies of the Bluebonnet, an active and rather bold Australian endemic grass parakeet that can use a variety of habitats. Consult with a knowledgeable expert to be sure that you are breeding like to like, to avoid destroying the pure forms.

Appearance:
A graceful-looking Australian parakeet with a blue face. The most commonly kept subspecies is the Yellow-vented Bluebonnet, (N. h. haematogaster), notable for its bright red belly patch and its yellow undertail coverts.The Red-vented Bluebonnet, (N. h. haematorrhous), is an exceptionally beautiful subspecies, with an extensive area of red including both the belly and the undertail coverts. The females of all three subspecies are slightly subdued versions of the males.

Weight:
70 - 100 grams (2.5 - 3.5 oz.)

Average size:
30 centimeters (11.8 in.)

Lifespan:
15 years

Behavior / temperament:
Breeders have offered strong cautions about the beautiful but aggressive Bluebonnet. If you cannot allow the birds to choose their own mates, then you need to introduce potential mates carefully, while the individuals involved are still young and at a time when you can observe what's going on. Do not allow Bluebonnets the opportunity to get at your other pets or other birds. Do not allow the youngsters to remain with the parents after they are independent. Don't be fooled by the size of these feisty birds. They have a powerful territorial instinct that must be respected.

Housing:
Most Bluebonnets will be kept in pairs, and you should plan to have a large walk-in flight for each pair. Some breeders do allow a small colony of young birds to be together, in order to allow the birds to choose their own mates, but you must be extremely observant and ready to move the pairs as they form. You should also have flights ready for your baby Bluebonnets, because they must be moved as soon as they become independent, or the parents may harm them attempting to drive them off the territory. Are you getting the general idea? The Bluebonnet is a beautiful bird, but it requires a lot of space.

It is very important to set up barriers to prevent pairs from being able to dispute with each other. If for some reason you end up with an “odd” bird, it will need its own flight. Provide swings and other toys, as well as perches, because the single birds are capable of independent play and are said to perform on their toys in an entertaining jerky, robotlike movement.

Diet:
Like most Australian grass parakeets, the Bluebonnet isn't terribly difficult to feed right. The core of the diet is usually a high quality small seed mix. High fat seeds like sunflower should be restricted or not given at all if the birds are overweight. You should also supply a chopped salad heavy on seasonal fruits and vegetables, with plenty of chopped greens supplied. Some breeders stir in wheat germ oil. Soaked, sprouted, or milky seeding grasses should be offered regularly. You can offer a high quality pellet, but if the birds will not eat it, you may have to instead prepare a high quality multi-grain or cockatiel “birdie” bread.

You may want to ask your vet or breeder about whether to offer calcium or other supplements to your Bluebonnets, but bear in mind that calcium may not easily be absorbed without access to either natural sunlight, full spectrum lighting, or vitamin D3. You should provide richer food in the breeding season, perhaps eggfood, special bird breeder's mix, or even live food, as some breeding pairs are reported to accept mealworms and other live food when they have young in the nest.

Written by Elaine Radford

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