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|Male (left) and female (right)|
|Male (left) and female (right)|
The Alexandrine parakeet or Alexandrian parrot (Psittacula eupatria) is a member of the psittaciformes order and of the Psittaculidae family. The species is named after Alexander the Great, who is credited with the exporting of numerous specimens of this bird from Punjab into various European and Mediterranean countries and regions, where they were considered prized possessions for the nobles and royalty.
The species name eupatria has its origins from Greek. Where the prefix eu translates into good or noble and the suffix patria is a Greek word translating as either fatherland or ancestry. Consequently, the species' scientific name means something in the line "of noble ancestry", "of noble fatherland" or "of noble nation".
The species has naturalized itself in numerous European countries. Particularly in Germany, in the south of England, in Belgium, in Greece, in western Turkey and in the Netherlands where it generally lives amongst or alongside flocks of naturalized Psittacula krameri (ringnecked or rose-ringed parakeet).
The Alexandrine parakeet is one of the largest species of parakeet (long tail) species, thus often being the largest parrot in their native range. This species measures 58 cm (23 in) in total length with a wing length averaging 18.9–21.5 cm (7.5–8.5 in) and a tail length of 21.5–35.5 cm (8.5–14.0 in). Adult birds commonly weigh between 200 and 300 g (7.1 and 10.6 oz). It is mainly green with a blue-grey sheen on its cheeks and nape, particularly in males. The abdomen is yellowish-green, the upperside of the middle tail feathers is blueish-green, the upperside of the external tail feathers is green while the underside of the tail feathers are all yellow. All Alexandrine parakeets (irrespective of age, gender and/or sub-species) boldly display a maroon (reddish-brown) patch at the top of their wing coverts (commonly called 'shoulder' patch). The shoulder patch is seen in parakeets at their first feathering before fledging. The lower and upper mandibles are red with yellow tips. The adult's irises are yellowish-white and the periopthalmic rings are light grey. The legs are grey except in the P. e. siamensis (Laos' or Siamese sub-species) where they are yellowish-grey.
The species is dimorphic in adulthood (3 years and older). The immatures are monomorphic and are similar but duller in appearance to that of the adult females. Adult males always show pitch-black neck rings and large pink bands on their napes (commonly called nape bands). Often males only display a narrow band of blueish-grey above their bold pink nape-band. Adult females frequently show neck ring shadows that are anywhere between light and dark shades of grey. Females never display true black feathers in their neck-rings. Immatures of either genders are very similar to adult females but, as with all genuine parakeet species, the young Alexandrine parakeets always display shorter middle-tail feathers and thus shorter tails than adults. The adult feathering usually is acquired between 18–30 months of age, but may sometimes show up as young as 12 and/or as old as a full 36 months of age. Consequently, it may be difficult to identify the sex of Alexandrine parakeets by sight with absolute certainty until they are a full 36 months of age.
The young males can be identified as soon as they display one (or more) pitch-black feathers of their neck rings and/or one (or more) pink feathers of their nape bands. Often, the young males develop their neck rings and nape bands in two or sometimes three successive moulting seasons. Adult parakeets with neither pitch-black feathers in their neck rings nor pink feathers in their nape bands are usually females.
The following sub-species, many of them allopatric are recognised based on geographical distribution:
The P. e. nipalensis ssp. (Nepalese Alexandrine parakeet) is the largest of the species measuring 62 cm (24.5 in) in total length with a wing length averaging 20–24 cm (8–9.5 in). It is thus recognized as the world's largest genuine parakeet (short to mid-sized long-tailed parrot) species. It looks much like the Nominate sub-species. However, the feathers on the chest and abdomen in both genders display whitish-grey sheens, the cheeks and napes are washed with blue and the adult males display large pink nape bands. These parrots are "aggressive" and can bite if disturbed when doing some curious work. They have red and pink patches on the wings.
The P. e. magnirostris ssp. (Andaman Island's Alexandrine parakeet) is slightly larger than the nominate sub-species, displaying a wing length anywhere between 20–22.5 cm (8–9 in). It looks much like the nominate race, however, the feathers on the chest and abdomen in both genders display whitish-grey sheens. The maroon 'shoulder' patch is of a much redder (or less brownish) colour than that of the nominate. The beak is larger and more massive. The adult males display large pink nape bands, the blue sheens above the nape-bands are restricted and sometimes absent in some specimens.
The P. e. avensis ssp. (Indo-Burmese Alexandrine parakeet) is of similar size as the nominate species, measuring 58 cm (23 in), displaying a wing length averaging anywhere between 19.4–22 cm (7.5–8.5 in) and often mistaken for the Nominate ssp. However, the top of the head and the nape are of a yellowish-green, the blue sheens are restricted to the cheeks and thus absent in the nape. The adult males display thinner and pinker nape-bands.
The P. e. siamensis ssp. (Laos or Siamese Alexandrine parakeet) is the smallest of the species, measuring 56 cm (22 in), displaying a wing length averaging anywhere between 17.9–20.5 cm (7–8 in) and looks much like the Nominate ssp. Typically, the top of the head and the nape display pale-blue sheens which can extend to the crown in some specimens. The cheeks are yellowish-green, the 'shoulder' patch is of a nearly brownless red colour and the legs display a pronounced yellowish shade.
The Alexandrine parakeet is one of the oldest captive parrot species on the Eurasian continent. It is commonly named after its famous European "discoverer", the legendary Emperor Alexander The Great, who had numerous specimens exported back to the various Mediterranean countries by his legionaries. From then on, the Alexandrine parakeet lived and were raised among the various fortunates, nobles & monarchs throughout the Empire's anatolian, European and Mediterranean countries. i.e. Egypt, Greece, Persia, Italy.
Ideal outdoor aviary for breeders: minimum of 2 m High X 1 m Deep X 4,5 m Long (about 6 feet High X 3 feet Deep X 15 feet Long) Metal construction with shelter, minimum of 1,6 mm gauge wire-mesh and minimum temperature of 5°C (41°F)
Ideal indoor aviary for breeders: minimum of 100 cm High X 90 cm Deep X 180 cm Long (about 3½ feet High X 3 feet Deep X 6 feet Long) Metal construction without shelter, minimum of 1,6 mm gauge wire-mesh and minimum temperature of 5°C (41°F)
Ideal cage for pets: The largest ever possible cage that are readily available for any mid to large sized parrot species. Most particularly those recommended for mid to large sized Macaws. With absolute minimum of 90 cm High X 60 cm Deep X 90 cm Long (3 feet High X 2 feet Deep X 3 feet Long)
It is easy to bring these birds to reproduce by isolating a pair alone in a large aviary. A nestbox that is either high or long shaped, hanged either diagonally or not and measuring about 45 X 40 X 60 cm (16 X 18 X 24 inches), with an entrance/exit hole of 11 to 12 cm (4 to 5 inches) in diameter. The average clutch size is 2 to 4 eggs measuring 34,0 X 26,9 mm (1 X 1 1/3 inches), the average incubation period is 28 days usually starting with the laying of the second egg. The chicks fledge around 7 weeks of age, they are cared for, educated and reared for about the 21 following days (3 weeks) and are typically weaned between 3 to 4 months (12 to 16 weeks) of age. These parakeets can spend the winter in the outdoors as long as they have a shelter where they are protected against frostbite on their feet or toes.
This parakeet can be moderately loud depending on whether the individual was tamed and reared and socialized apart from its siblings or other loud birds. The Alexandrine parakeet's call is a powerful screech but deeper than that of its very close-relative the Psittacula krameri (rose-ringnecked or rose-ringed parakeet) It is an active species, very loving of water (bathing, misting, raining and showering), very loving of foods, readily accepting diverse and/or new diets. Vigorously chewing, it is important to provide a constant and regular supply of any non-toxic materials such as non-toxic tree branches (i.e. apple, aspen, birch, pear, pine, willow) that has never been treated with any type of chemical products (i.e. disinfectant, fungicide, insecticide, javel, pesticide) The species is hardy and vigorous when acclimatized. The pairs must be isolated one pair per cage/flight during the reproduction season, since females in all Psittacula spp. (Afro-Asian ringnecked parakeet species) become very intolerant and territorial.
The Alexandrine parakeet has an average lifespan of 40 years, and as with all other Psittacula spp. (Afro-Asian ringnecked parakeet species) are among the top five greatest mimicking champion parrot species, alongside African grey parrots (all ssp.), Amazon parrots (all spp.) Eclectus parrots (all ssp.) and male budgerigar parakeets (females are comparatively poor mimics). Individuals reared and socialized as either fledgelings or weanlings become excellent companion pet birds.
Alexandrine parakeets are naturally docile, food greedy, peaceful, playful, socially tolerant (although females tend to be more exclusive) and display an intelligence that is as astonishing as that of large parrot species such as African greys, Amazons and macaws. They combine the intelligence and the mimicry talent of the latter species with a well balanced personality. They are friendly/social without being affectively dependent, and they are playful without being dizzily hyper-active. In India, the buying, selling or killing of Alexendrine parrots is banned, with five years imprisonment being the consequence.
Breeding season is from November to April in their natural distribution range. Average clutch size is 2–4 eggs measuring 34.0 x 26.9 mm (1 x 1.3 in). The average incubation period is 28 days usually starting with the laying of the second egg. The chicks fledge around seven weeks of age. they are cared for, educated and reared for about the 21 following days (3 weeks) and are typically weaned between 3 to 4 months (12 to 16 weeks) of age.
They are critically endangered in Pakistan, especially in Punjab province. This is mostly due to loss of habitat (cutting of old trees), and excessive poaching of wild chicks. Although their sale is officially banned in Pakistan, they can be found openly being sold in markets of Lahore. Trapping pressure to cater to the demands of the pet trade have caused a drastic decline in this species' wild population. It is illegal to trade in Alexandrine parakeets in India and yet these birds are sold in broad daylight in urban bird markets, suggesting that the Indian government is allocating insufficient resources towards the protection of this species.
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