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Blossom-headed Parakeet

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Is the Blossom-headed Parakeet right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Rosy-headed Parakeet

Scientific name: Psittacula roseata

The basics:
The Blossom-headed Parakeet is one of the little gems of the Psittacula genus, an elegant beauty with a musical voice that has been kept as a pet for many centuries. Unfortunately, this lovely bird proved difficult to breed in captivity in the era before modern techniques and diets, leading to over-collection from the wild. Although now breeders do succeed with this species, it has become somewhat of a forgotten bird that's often confused with the Plum-headed Parakeet.

If you are choosing a pet, you will want a youngster, and distinguishing small juvenile Psittacula may not be a job for the beginner, so take a look at the parents for hints about the proper identification. An adult female Blossom-headed Parakeet has a small (sometimes very small) red shoulder patch but an adult female Plum-head never does. An adult male Blossom-headed Parakeet has a lovely rosy-pink face, whereas the adult male Plum-head's face is more of a deep reddish. If you don't trust yourself to judge shades of reds and pinks with unfamiliar birds, look at the tail. The central feathers of the Plum-head's tail will be tipped white, while the central feathers of the Blossom-head's tail will be tipped yellow.

The two subspecies of the Blossom-headed Parakeet have a very wide natural range from northeastern India and eastward through southeastern China and Southeast Asia. They are birds of the open forest and seem to have been heavily hit both by collecting for the pet trade and by deforestation. They are adaptable and are reported to use small remnant forests around temples, but they have a difficult time where they're being hit by a one-two punch of logging and trapping.

The so-called Intermediate Parakeet is not a true species but appears to be a natural hybrid that occurs in northern India, where Plum-headed Parakeets and Blossom-headed Parakeets overlap. To preserve both of these species as separate entities in aviculture, anyone who decides to breed their birds should consult with a more experienced breeder to make sure you aren't creating more hybrids by accident.

Appearance:
A graceful green parakeet with a long tail, adult male Blossom-headed Parakeets are especially beautiful birds with pink heads and red shoulder patches.

Weight:
85 - 90 grams (3 oz.)

Average size:
30 centimeters (11.8 in.)

Lifespan:
20 - 25 years

Behavior / temperament:
If you are seeking a single pet Blossom-headed Parakeet, 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, to give your pet its best chance of learning to speak. The males have a natural song to build on, so it might be worth teaching them to whistle.

The Blossom-headed Parakeet has been described as shy, quiet, and slow to warm to its human caretakers. Be patient, but do not fail to interact with kindness and respect with your pet every day. They become inactive and depressed if they are confined too much, so take the advice to heart about having a flight cage that might seem bigger than reasonable for a bird this size. Have a playgym and give your pet the opportunity to use it. Never shout, or lose your temper, or do anything to lose the trust of your sensitive beauty.

If the bird does somewhat revert to wildness despite all your precautions, it's still worthwhile to provide talk or whistling lessons. Even if your Blossom-headed Parakeet prefers to be a “touch me not” pet, it may still enjoying exchanging whistles with you.

Housing:
Because of the long, elegant tail, the Blossom-headed 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.

Even though they're not terribly large, the females may be aggressive, and a breeding pair should be kept in an even larger flight. A walk-in aviary would not be excessive. They can be extremely shy and may demand a lot of privacy if they go to nest.

Diet:
The Blossom-headed 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 elegant Blossom-headed 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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