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Twenty-Eight Parrot

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Is the Twenty-Eight Parrot right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Yellow-naped Parakeet; Yellow-collared Parakeet

Scientific name: Barnardius zonarius semitorquatus

The basics:
The Twenty-Eight Parrot, a classic breeder's bird of the so-called “Australian ringneck” group, could be disappearing from aviculture right in front of our eyes. It is a subspecies of the Australian Ringneck, and careless breeders in days gone by were too quick to improperly hybridize the Twenty-Eight with other subspecies like the Port Lincoln. Today, it can be a difficult challenge to find pure-bred specimens for the aviary.

This Australian endemic was considered a full species until the early 1990s, but it is known to naturally interbreed in the wild with the Port Lincoln Parakeet. Therefore, both birds have been reclassified as subspecies of the Australian Ringneck. Nonetheless, since the Twenty-eight is easily separable from the Port Lincoln subspecies, it seems a shame that breeders have not taken more care to preserve the pure forms.

Appearance:
All Port Lincoln Parrots can be identified by their dark heads, which contrast with their bright yellow collars around the back of their necks. A pure Twenty-Eight Parrot will be larger, with a distinct red band above the beak, and it should have no yellow feathers in the underparts. Females of all Port Lincoln Parrots will be slightly duller, but the Twenty-Eight Parrot female should still be identifiable by her size and hint of a red frontal band.

Weight:
142 - 206 grams (5 - 7 oz.)

Average size:
42 centimeters (16.5 in.)

Lifespan:
18 years

Behavior / temperament:
The Twenty-eight Parrot is most popular as an aviary bird, and some people advise against holding it as a single pet, stating that the hand-fed babies can be even more aggressive than parent-raised birds, because they have no fear of humans. Others report that the Twenty-eight Parrot can be an interesting pet for experts who can respect the bird's limits. They do not like to be held or touched, but they can become tame and enjoy following or mimicking their owner.

For most people, the greatest delight in owning the colorful and not-too-noisy Twenty-eight Parrot will come from maintaining them in an aviary, where they can observe their breeding behavior. Be aware that this bird can be very aggressive, and many breeders will place visual barriers between pairs, so that they don't harass each other through aviary wires.

Housing:
Most Twenty-eight Parrots will be kept in pairs, and you should plan to have a large walk-in flight for each pair. 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. Most people report that these birds are “touch me nots” who are happiest with a large territory that allows them to fly, so do not plan on clipping their wings and exercising them on a play gym.

Diet:
Like most Australian grass parakeets, the Twenty-eight Parrot isn't terribly difficult to feed right. The core of the diet is usually a high quality small seed mix. Sunflower seed should be limited, but they do seem to benefit from high quality nuts like walnuts or cracked hazelnuts. You should also supply a chopped salad heavy on seasonal fruits and vegetables, with plenty of chopped greens supplied. 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 Twenty-eight Parrots, but bear in mind that calcium may not easily be absorbed without access to either natural sunlight, full spectrum lighting, or vitamin D3.

Written by Elaine Radford

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