Red-rumped Parakeet

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Is the Red-rumped Parakeet right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Red-rumped Parrot; Red-backed Parrot; Red-backed Parakeet; Redrump; Grass Parrot; Green Leek

Scientific name: Psephotus haematonotus

The basics:
The splendid Red-rumped Parakeet is one of the most popular Australian grass parakeets, both because of its natural beauty and because of how easily it breeds in captivity, making it possible to produce numerous color mutations. Although reportedly rather bold in the wild, they may have a tendency to be aggressive in captivity, except in a large flight, so they are rarely held as single pets. Even though a single bird may be a difficult project, the pairs are quite easy to care for, and many experts highly recommend the Red-rumped Parakeet to novice breeders.

The Red-rumped Parrot is one of two closely related endemic Australian species of Psephotus grass parakeets. In general, the Mulga is the more western bird, while the Red-rumped is found more to the east. There are two subspecies of Red-rumped Parrot, which you need to be aware of if you're breeding to present a natural wild form, instead of one of the color mutations. However, virtually all birds in aviculture are the brighter nominate subspecies, P. h. haematonotus, so it shouldn't be a difficult problem.

The wild Red-rump is easily visible on its home territory, using parks and gardens, as well as farms, grasslands, or open wooded areas. Its habit of sitting out in pairs or small flocks, even near roads, means that birders or even people just driving by can easily admire this spectacular species.

Like its close relative, the Mulga Parrot, the Red-rumped Parakeet is frequently described as a “green” parakeet, a description that hardly does justice to the lovely bluish-green male with the glorious red rump. The normal wild adult female has no red feathers in her rump, but a younger female before her first molt may have a few – and some of the adult female mutations may have red rumps as well. If you are ever in any doubt about the sex of your bird, a DNA test can answer the question. All plumages of Mulga Parrot have a rusty-red crown patch on the back of their heads, although it might be faint in females and juveniles, giving you a quick way to distinguish them from Red-rumps.

55 - 85 grams (2 - 3 oz.)

Average size:
27 centimeters (10.6 in.)

8 - 12 years

Behavior / temperament:
Like so many beauties, the Red-rumped Parakeet can be temperamental. If you want a single pet, choose a hand-fed baby. (If you are determined to have a colorful male, the baby must be DNA sexed, since it takes time for the adult color to come in.) Work with the bird patiently and with respect, so that you never lose its trust. Socialize your pet every day, and keep it well exercised. Be aware of any signals that it might bite, and learn how to distract or calm your bird. They aren't noisy birds, which is a huge plus in an apartment setting.

While some people have successfully kept Red-rumped Parakeets with other species of birds outside of breeding season, don't plan on this. Assume they will need their own territory, unshared with any other species, because they don't know their own size and they can become very aggressive once they get ready to breed.

It would be relatively rare to own a single pet Red-rumped Parrot, but in the event that you do, be aware of the bird's need for exercise to fight obesity, boredom, and aggression. The powder-coated metal cage should be a large one, perhaps a minimum of 24”w by 18”d by 24” h, and you should also have a play gym with chew items and assorted toys. You want to interact with your pet every day to keep it socialized, so make it practical for the two of you to be together.

Breeding birds should be kept in pairs, in a large aviary, probably large enough to walk into. They are too territorial toward other birds or pets to share, so you should plan for a large aviary for each pair of Red-rumped Parrots. They love to bathe, both in clean sand and in water, so provide them with the proper shallow “puddles” of sand and dirt to allow them to do so. It's a worth a little trouble to keep those gorgeous feathers gleaming. When setting up the aviary, bear in mind that this sun-loving species doesn't tolerate being cold and damp.

Like most Australian grass parakeets, the Red-rumped Parrot isn't terribly difficult to feed right, but the birds do tend to become obese if you don't watch out. 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 Red-rumped Parakeets, 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 egg food, special bird breeder's mix, or even live food.

Written by Elaine Radford


pleasant song, lovely bird, gorgeous coloring, wonderful pleasant personality, melodious chirps


Aggressive, larger cages


mutations, small bird

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