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Derbyan Parakeet

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Is the Derbyan Parakeet right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Lord Derby's Parakeet; Derby's Parakeet

Scientific name: Psittacula derbiana

The basics:
The Derbyan Parakeet is a large, impressive Psittacula that keeps winning fans because of its elegance, its intelligence, and its often-impressive vocal ability. In the wild, the males would bow to their females during the courtship approach, and some birds bow to their favored humans.

Most of the Derbyan Parakeet population hails from the Tibetan Plateau, but there is a small, separate population in elsewhere in southern China. This highland species is generally encountered from 2,700 to 4,000 meters, but it does migrate lower in the valleys to escape the harsh mountain winter.

Appearance:
A large long-tailed parakeet. With their lavender heads and breasts, accented by a bold black “moustache,” they might remind you of a much bigger Moustached Parakeet. Adult birds are easy to sex, because the male develops a bright red upper beak, while the female's beak will always remain black.

Weight:
320 grams (11.3 oz.)

Average size:
50 centimeters (20 in.)

Lifespan:
25 - 30 years

Behavior / temperament:
The Derbyan Parakeet is a vocal species with the potential to become a good talker if you start the voice training early. If you are seeking a single pet, you should select a domestic hand-fed baby, and make sure to spend some time socializing with the bird every day. You should also allow the young bird a chance to hear recorded voice lessons several times a day, because these birds can learn to speak with surprising clarity if you start early enough.

Although the wild birds gathering in their colonies are noisy and social, an individual Derbyan Parakeet is actually rather independent and could be aloof. Some birds could even revert to wildness, becoming phobic or anxious if you neglect them. You need to provide a good balance of time for the bird to interact with you, perhaps sharing dinner with you or practicing tricks and voice lessons. They do need to engage with you, or they might lose the ability to be social.

A commonly reported problem with the Derbyan Parakeet is that they dislike or even fear human hands. Teach them to step on a hand-held stick or your arm, rather than trying to entice them to a finger. Many of them don't like being petted or touched, and it might be wise to respect your pet's wishes, to avoid losing its trust.

Housing:
Because of the long, elegant tail, the Derbyan Parakeet will be happiest and show off best in the largest cage you can afford. A small macaw cage, provided the bar spacing wasn't too wide, might be the answer. A minimum size could be 36”w by 24' by 36” tall. A single pet should never be asked to share the cage territory with another bird. Females are particularly dominant, but you should maintain the sweetness of your pet by having a separate play gym stocked with foraging toys and other fun things to do.

Teach your bird to step up on command onto a perch, so that you can easily move it from cage to gym and back again. Derbyan Parakeets are heavy chewers as well as heavy eaters, and you need to supply plenty of bird-safe chewables for them to destroy.

Diet:
The Derbyan Parakeet is a tough, adaptable bird, but that's no reason to short-change your pet when it comes to diet. One expert suggests a diet based on 50% high quality pellets, 25% high quality seeds, and 25% fresh fruits and vegetables. The seed should include millet sprays, and the seed mix and sprays should be fresh enough to sprout.

To bring out the best color and to head off vitamin A deficiencies, be sure to offer plenty of high carotene vegetables like carrots, cooked yam and sweet potato, and pumpkin. Dark green vegetables such as broccoli, mustard greens, Swiss chard, dandelion greens, and parsley should also be added to the daily chopped salad. The Derbyan Parakeet has a huge appetite, so don't get caught short. Keep the freezer stocked with lots of mixed vegetables and/or fruits that can be defrosted in the microwave at a moment's notice.

The elegant Derbyan Parakeet may enjoy holding holding food to eat, so don't chop the salad pieces too fine. Let them pick up green peas in the pod or quartered fig for a nutritious snack. However, you must never offer avocado or chocolate, as these foods are toxic to parrots.

Written by Elaine Radford

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