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Regent Parrot

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Is the Regent Parrot right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Rock Pebbler; Regent Parakeet; Smoker; Mallee Smoker

Scientific name: Polytelis anthopeplus

The basics:
The Regent Parrot, also known to many bird fanciers as the Rock Pebbler, is an attractive aviary bird that's hardy and relatively easy to care for. Hand-fed babies can make great pets, although you are unlikely to be able to tame a wild adult. They can make good mixed aviary specimens, and they have been housed successfully with other non-aggressive species such as cockatiels or finches. They have been called one of the best fliers of the Australian parakeets, and they should be housed in a long aviary that allows them to exercise their powers of flight.

The lovely nominate subspecies of the Regent Parrot (P. a. anthopeplus), lives in specialized habitat in a small area of southeastern Australia, where it has become endangered in the face of multiple threats. The clearance of its habitat, and competition for what nesting cavities remain with the Rose-breasted Cockatoo and honeybees, has contributed to the decline of this beautiful bird. Know what subspecies you hold, and don't inadvertently hybridize your birds. The southwestern subspecies, P. a. westralis, appears to be adaptable to a wider variety of wooded habitats, including agricultural lands, so it seems to be holding its own.

Appearance:
There are two subspecies of Regent Parrot. The nominate, P. a. anthopeplus is a true stunner, as the beautifully patterned male boasts a bright golden head, underparts, and rump. The male of the second subspecies, P. a. westralis, has a more olive head, underparts, and rump. Both females are duller than their mates, and the P. a. westralis female is the most modestly colored of all.

Weight:
150 - 206 grams (5.3 - 7.3 oz.)

Average size:
40 centimeters (16 in.)

Lifespan:
25 years

Behavior / temperament:
Although Regent Parrots are not routinely offered as pets, their owners report that the hand-raised birds can be social, gentle, and surprisingly gratifying. They may not learn to talk, but they can often learn to whistle. They can be independent and amuse themselves, given a large enough flight, so busy people might take a second look at the Regent Parrot. Breeders should be kept in pairs rather than colonies, because they might quarrel with each other, but pairs or individuals have been kept harmoniously with other gentle species like cockatiels.

Housing:
The Regent Parrot benefits from a large cage to encourage them to move and to exercise. A small macaw cage might not be too much, provided the bar spacing wasn't too wide. A minimum size for a single pet might be 36”w by 24”d by 36” tall, and bigger might be better, since these birds tend to exercise by flying, rather than by playing with toys or climbing. However, the majority of pairs or colonies are undoubtedly housed in custom-built aviaries, to show off these birds to perfection and to give them the opportunity to fly. They tend to spend a lot of time on the floor, so take care to provide a substrate that is easily cleaned, to prevent the spread of worms or other diseases.

Diet:
The Regent Parrot is relatively easy to feed. A high quality small seed mix is usually the backbone of the diet, but be sure to provide plenty of soaked and sprouted seeds, seeding heads, and millet sprays as well. You should provide access to chopped fruits and vegetables, with plenty of chopped greens. Do not offer avocado or chocolate, as these items are toxic to all parrots.

Like cockatiels, the Regent Parrot may refuse to recognize pellets as food, requiring you to bake a good birdie bread or to mix up a good eggfood once in awhile to encourage them to enjoy some protein. They are ground feeders in the wild, and some breeders advise offering food bowls on the ground to encourage your picky eaters. Breeders report that they may benefit from live insect food such as waxworms or mealworms in the breeding season.

Written by Elaine Radford

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