Breeding

Ringneck Parakeet, Indian (Psittacula krameri manillensis)

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Indian Ringneck Parakeet

by Jim Hayward

Original homeland

Indian sub-continent and Sri Lanka

Natural habitat

From semi-desert to woodland, and country villages to large cities

Status in the Wild

Extremely common

Status in Aviculture

Common

Level of keepers experience

Suitable for beginners

Hardiness

These parakeets are known to be susceptible to frost bitten toes; apart from this, they are recognised as a hardy long lived species.

Type of Accommodation

Ringnecks look their best in a large aviary with at least a 20ft flight, but will stay in good condition and go to nest in one measuring only 8ft long. They can easily chew their way through 19g wire so their flight should be covered in 16g welded mesh; woodwork comes in for unwelcome attention and needs to be protected with thin metal if bare areas of aviary framework are accessible to the birds. An enclosed shelter is of great benefit.

Type of Diet

Their basic diet consists of the usual parakeet seed mixture (sunflower, safflower, canary mixture, various millets including spray, and 50/50 budgie mix), and a small amount of fruit and vegetables such as apple, carrot, pear, orange, sweetcorn, peas, grapes and celery. Also wild picked greenfood such as chickweed, seeding grass, dandelion (flowers, roots and leaves), shepherds-purse, sow-thistle and so on. Bread and milk is usually appreciated, or canary rearing food, especially when young are in the nest. Germinated and soaked seed helps to encourage breeding condition and encourages the feeding of young, but great care must be taken to see that it is only given fresh and contains no harmful moulds or infections.

Sexing

Adults are easily sexed as the black and pink neck ring of cocks is absent in hens. However adult plumage is not attained until the third year, though some cocks may show slight traces of the black and pink at a year old. In cocks of the blue variety, the pink ring of the wild type is replaced by white. In the Lutino, the pink neck ring is retained but the black moustache markings of the wild type are replaced by white.

Sexual Maturity

Two year old birds in immature plumage will attempt to breed, but are not usually successful until in their third or fourth year.

Nesting season in Britain

Ringnecks will commence nesting very early in the year whilst it is still winter, but in the British climate it is usually best to hold them back until the end of March. To prevent early nesting the entrance holes to the boxes are sealed up at the end of the summer and left like this until the following spring.

Type of nest

A nest-box measuring about 7 inches square by 18-24 inches in height made of 3/4-1 inch thick exterior quality plywood is suitable. Nest material can be made a mixture of crumbled rotted wood and soft sieved sand.

Usual number of eggs

4 to 6

Incubation period

22-23 days

Usual number of young

2 to 4

Fledging age

Around seven weeks

Usual number of clutches

In British aviaries there is usually only time in the season for a single nest to be reared, but in warmer climates such as in the southern states of the USA, Australia and South Africa, it is not unusual for a pair to raise two nests in a season. Of course if an infertile clutch of eggs is removed before the hen has sat her full period, another clutch of eggs is likely to be produced, but I have not found this to happen if the hen is just allowed to tire of sitting the old eggs.

Nesting habits

Only hens incubate. Hatchlings are born naked - they leave the nest at around seven weeks of age.

Special considerations

Double wired partitions needed, as they will attack fledglings of other psittacines on the wire and cause serious damage to their feet and bills.

Noise factor

Ringnecks, especially hens, have piercing high-pitched calls which can be unpleasant at short distances - intolerant neighbours in closely adjoining gardens could possibly complain.

Colour Varieties

Colour varieties are very popular in this species and their numbers are continuing to increase. The Lutino and Blue varieties of the Indian Ringneck have always been a goal for parakeet breeders to aim for, and now that they are more plentiful and frequently offered for sale, they are well within the scope of a great many breeders. Snow white Albinos with red bills can be produced by combining these two mutations.

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