Ringneck parakeet (Ring-necked or Rose-ringed parakeet) - Psittacula krameri

Cock Indian ringneck parakeetThe description of ‘parakeet’ refers to a parrot with a long tail. These particular parakeets were the first examples of the parrot family to be kept as pets in Europe, being brought back to Greece by the conquering army of Alexander the Great in 327 BC.

Later, the ancient Romans valued them so highly that such birds were kept in ornate cages inlaid with precious materials such as ivory. Slaves were given the task of caring for individual parakeets and teaching them to talk. In reality though, the powers of mimicry of these birds are rather limited, compared with other parrots such as the African grey for example.

The ring-necked parakeet has the widest distribution of all the world’s 330 or so parrots, Young green ringnecked parakketwith a range that stretches from west Africa eastwards across Asia to China. They can even occur at high altitude in the Himalayas, and some isolated populations have arisen from birds illegally released around major cities in Britain and in other countries too. Here they depend largely on bird table fare for their survival through the year.

These parakeets are mainly green in colour, with only cock birds having the distinctive black and pink collars which extend from the sides of their face around the neck. This helps to explain their alternative name of rose-ringed parakeet. Those ringnecks whose ancestors originated from Africa have bills which are of duller colouration, compared with those occurring in India and other parts of Asia. They average about 40cm (16in) in terms of overall length.

Indian ringneck parakeets have now been bred in a very wide range of colours in aviary surroundings. There are Lutino ringneck parakeetstriking lutinos with buttercup yellow plumage, whose collars are white and pink in the case of cock birds, as well as a stunning sky blue form. Others include grey, olive, and pure snow white (albino) forms, with one of the rarest and most spectacular varieties currently being the violet.

Blue ringnecked parrakeetIn terms of feeding, ringneck parakeets need a standard seed mix, containing items such as sunflower, safflower and pine nuts as well as a supply of greenstuff and fruit each day. It can be possible to persuade them to eat pellets too, which will offer them a more balanced diet. Pairs should be housed on their own in an aviary measuring about 3.6m in length, and tend to nest quite early in the year in northern latitudes.

Their typical clutch size consists of 3-5 eggs. Incubation lasts around 24 days, with the chicks fledging about seven weeks later. Both sexes resemble hens at this stage. They are likely to start to start breeding for the first time at 2-3 years old, and can live for 20 years or more.