There are fifteen species of Asiatic Ring-necked Parakeet (long tailed parrot). These include, that are readily available in Australia, the Alexandrine, Indian Ring-necked, Slaty-headed, Plum-headed, Malabar, Derbyan and Moustached Parakeet.
Alexandrine Parrot - Psittacula eupatria is one of fifteen species of Asiatic Ring-necked Parakeet (long tailed parrot) that include the Indian Ring-necked, Slaty Head, Plum Head, Malabar, Derbyan and Moustached Parakeet sub-species, that are readily available in Australia. The Alexandrine, both male and female, range in size from 62 to 56cm in length.
There are five sub-species of Alexandrine, the very common P. e. eupatria from Southern India and Sri Lanka (58cm), the not so common P. e. nipalensis from Afghanistan/Pakistan/Nth India/Nepal/Bangladesh and Bhutan (62cm) and the other three, P. e. magnirostris P. e. avensis and P. e. siamensis (56cm and the smallest). are not considered to be represented in Oz captivity. The Nepalese sub-specie is a much sort after sub-specie in Oz. There are, in all probability, quite a few “cross bred” birds particularly between the Nepalese and the Southern Indian sub-species.
Alex’s are a very popular aviary specimen and also equally as popular as a hand raised companion bird. The magnificent long thin tapering tail, the colourful ring around the neck on the male and the maroon wing patch on both sexes together with a purple beak, are a striking combination.
A seed eating species that thrive on a good quality parrot mix supplemented with a variety of dried and fresh fruit and vegetables. Particular favourites for our pairs are corn on the cob, diced mixed veggies, Celery, Silver-beet, Sweet potato, and many of the juicy fruits that we also feed to Lorikeets/Lories. The species are also often converted to a pelletised diet supplemented with fruit and greens.
Housing needs to be tough and off a reasonable length as the birds are strong flyers. A suspended flight of about 4m x 1.2m x 1.2m high is adequate. 25mm square mesh is recommended as they are good destroyers of lighter gauged mesh. 25mm mesh does allow for entry of Finches who will feast on the smaller seeds but the Alex’s are not disturbed by the fly in/fly out visitors. Perches too need to be of a reasonable diameter as the Alex has quite a large claw. They also need to be of “tough” natural timber as the Alex’s do enjoy a chew.
Breeding in captivity is generally a given once a pair is bonded and at very least, two years old though some may take a year longer on may even surprise with an earlier start. It’s best to start with a juvenile pair, give them time to mature together and a very strong pair bond will be formed. Two parent raised clutches a year being possible, a third is sometimes achieved if the first clutch is removed for h/raising. We have “pulled” a young or two from a clutch but leave at least one for the parents to rear simply to ensure they do not forget parenting skills. Clutch size will vary from two to five though if the latter, intervention by removing the two oldest for hand raising/fostering may be necessary as the chicks grow at an alarming rate. Breeding can begin as early as March in our climate and we use a nest box that is approx 40cm square and 90cm high with a 10cm ID natural timber spout to darken the nest box and give a natural nest box perch. An inspection door about 150 mm up from the bottom allows for ease of inspection and removal of chicks. The nest boxes are placed inside, at the rear of the flight near the rear door. As I wrote, they are good chewers so an externally hung box would have to be closely monitored.
All in all, although a fairly recent addition to our collection, they have bred consistently and are a favourite in the varied collection we will continue to keep for many years to come. Normal pairs are about $350 to $500 depending on age and breeding history. Young h/raised birds are between $350 to $450 depending on availability.
There are now available a reasonable range of hybridized and colour morph bred varieties of Alex’s of 3/4 for the newer colours and 31/32 for Lutino. The top breeders are getting closer to a “pure” bird that will consistently produce coloured young. Currently available are, Lutino, Blue, Cinnamon, Grey-green (Olive), Lacewing, and Grey. Lutinos are about $1500:00(hens) to $3000 (cocks) ea most of the others are about $3000:00 ea and the Lace-wing being the latest at $9000:00ea. Splits are generally priced the same as the primary colour. Not many of the colours in the North to date but availability and price are getting more affordable.
This article submited by Jim and Jenny Van Reyk