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Home Parrots Alexandrine Parrots All About Alexandrines
All About Alexandrines PDF Print E-mail

A 7 year old Alexandrine cock The Alexandrine parrot (psittacula eupatria) is primarily found in eastern Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, western Pakistan, India, and Indochina.

The Alexandrine parrot is one Asiatic parrot that is becoming increasingly popular for breeding in captivity, as well as making an excellent pet. Other birds in the Asiatic group include Indian Ringnecks, Plum heads, Slaty heads, Derbyans and the Moustache Parrot.

The Alexandrine has a striking appearance attributable to their length and colouring. The cock birds are green, paler on the underparts, crown and cheek, with a slight bluish grey suffusion. Their black stripe is clearly shown and starts under the cheek, then meets the bright pink collar (ring) around the neck. Down to the wing, there is a distinct crimson red patch on each side of the wings.

The beak, a broad deep red colour, is most distinct in cocks. The underside of the tail is pale green/yellow; the upperside shows green with a blue suffusion.

The hens are a similar bird, slightly shorter in the tail, not acquiring the pink and black collar (ring). The beak on the upper mandible is not as large as the cock bird.

I have found these birds to be one of the most hardy and easily bred, along with the Indian Ring-necked Parrot.

Housing

Our birds are housed in outside aviaries with a length of 3.66m long x 1.525m wide x 1.83m high (12 feet x 5 feet x 6 feet) with approximately two-thirds of the aviary sheltered. This is to protect the birds from outside wildlife and prevent diseases from entering our aviaries. The floors consist of 100mm (4 inches) of river pebbles which are raked over every four weeks. This is to keep the aviaries dry and free from worms. Perches used are of a square shape made from hardwood so the birds can grip properly, which is especially important during mating.

Breeding

The birds are kept as separate breeding pairs, although they can be bred in colonies. We prefer to separate each pair to prevent attacking of young and losing toe nails, which can occur in colony situations.

Our Alexandrines are bred both in boxes and logs, depending on the breeding pairs tendency of chewing at the boxes. The nest boxes are lined with 30mm x 30mm (1.18 inches) angle line to prevent chewing at the edges of the boxes. The nest material used is natural broken-down hollow, obtained from termite infested trees.

Alexandrine Parrot eggs Birds usually start nesting at the end of July and lay between three to four eggs per clutch. Incubation lasts approximately 28 days. The hens are responsible for incubation with the cock often entering the nest. Some of our birds will also roost in the box, with the cock feeding the hen during this process.

We have found our Alexandrine parrots to be good parents who always rear the full clutch. Young birds usually leave the nest between seven and eight weeks. We have found these young birds to be heavy flyers and have a tendency to crash into the wire. During this period, we try to keep away from the aviaries until young birds are confident and are used to the aviary.

The most essential component to the success of breeding these parrots is their food supply.

Feeding for breeding

Our birds are fed with a rotating routine food supply throughout the breeding season. We find it is important to give the birds a variety of nutritional food.

Day 1 - Sprouted seed: sunflowers, corn, mung beans.
Day 2 - Fruits: apple, orange, carrots, corn cobs.
Day 3 - Milk thistle, winter grass, greens.

This combination of food is in conjunction with a normal diet. Shell grit and mineral blocks are also always provided to assist with fertility and egg bulking.

Hand-rearing

Baby Alexandrine Parrots We often pull young from the nest at approximately two weeks old, thus obtaining another clutch from some pairs. The second clutch is left to be reared by the parents. Our hand-rearing formula consists of:

  • Heinz high protein baby cereal
  • dry egg and biscuit mix
  • polenta
  • sunflower kernels
  • blended oat bran
  • Pentivite

Young birds are fed with an open ended plastic syringe, which prevents wastage and messy feeding. The young are fed until they are fully weaned at approximately 10-12 weeks of age.

Selecting stock for breeding

It is important that accurate records are kept, and birds are rung, so they are easily identified to prevent breeding of related birds. We have seen a lot of variation in size and colouring of these birds that could be due to cross breeding with the Lutino Indian Ringneck. The motive behind cross breeding these two species is to produce the Lutino Alexandrine, which requires several generations of cross breeding and is hence, decreasing the number of quality birds. Care should be taken if attempting this questionable process.

When selecting Alexandrines, we look for the following attributes in parrots:

  • Size - adult birds approximately 58cm (23 inches) in length
  • Heavily marked crimson red patch on wing
  • Strong colouring
  • Good shape of bird
  • Alertness
  • Tight feathering

A breeding pair of Alexandrines Determining the difference between a hen and cock Alexandrine is simply achieved by comparing size, tail length and shape of the head, although surgical sexing is more precise. The cock bird colours between the age of 12 to 17 months, when the ring colour is prominent.

When pairing Alexandrines, we have found the best solution is to place unrelated cocks and hens in a large aviary to allow the birds to pair themselves. This way, the birds develop a far better bond. They start breeding from the age of two years onwards.

Alexandrine parrots begin to moult at the end of each breeding season. This generally commences in January and continues until the end of March. The parrots look quite unattractive at this time.

Moulting is an annual occurrence and it is important that nutritious food is supplied, particularly sulphur (which is in great demand at this time) to enhance new feather production. After moulting, the birds look quite spectacular, showing their full colouring and length in tail.

The Alexandrine parrot is one of the most beautiful and endearing aviary birds and is recommended for any parrot fancier.

This article was written by Craig Aquilina and was first published in BirdKeeper Magazine, Vol. 8 Issue #11 in 1995. Reproduced here with kind permission from ABK Publications.

Recommended reading: For further information on Alexandrine parrots, see A Guide to Pet and Companion Birds: Their Keeping, Training & Wellbeing. Link will open in a new window.

 
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