RED-RUMPED PARAKEET (Psephotus haematonotus (Gould)
Pictures at bottom and our aviary.
The Red Rump Parakeet as a pet:
These birds can make a very good pet for beginners and the experienced person. They are slightly larger than an English Budgie so the cage size can be the same for them, or try a Cockatiel cage.
We have hand trained (tamed) these birds which like their heads scratched and will take food from you such as sunflowers seeds or vegetables etc. The ones we have in our aviary are a mated pair yet they still have become very tame with my wife Bernie. This just shows they can bond with people as well as each other.
Characteristics: 28 cm long, Bluish Green. Nape, breast, upper tail coverts light green. Rump red, abdomen yellow, under tail coverts grey-white. Greenish yellow patch on the anterior wing coverts. Primary coverts and shoulder blue. Beak black, iris brown, legs grey. The hens are a greyish olive green and have a grey beak. The red patch on the rump is absent. Immature birds resemble the female, young males often already have red feathers on the rump. The species owes its name to the melodious call note. Blue and yellow mutations. The cock is mainly green with a yellow underside (with orange undertones). The back is light red with yellow undertones. The under tail coverts are white, sometimes with a little green. The wings are mainly blue and the shoulder yellow. The upper tail coverts are green and the central tail feathers are green with blue undertones. Outer tail feathers are blue with lighter edges. The eyes are brown, the beak is black, and the feet are grey. The hen is mainly olive-greenish-brown a little orange in the neck and belly. It has a blue shoulder patch and a grey beak. The young are at first, similar to the hen, but the young females already have a pale beak.
Size: 10 3/4 inches (27 cm) including the 5 1/2-inch (14-cm) long tail.
Weight: Cock, 2 1/8 to 2 1/2 ounces (68-70 g); hen, 2 to 2 1/2 ounces (54-65 g).
Leg band: 13/64 inch (5 mm).
Voice: A two noted whistle. A soft, not unpleasant chattering and a louder chatter when tussling.
Range: South-western Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, south-eastern South Australia.
Habitat: Loosely wooded grassy plains, agricultural land. Deforestation has led to an expansion of the range of distribution. At altitudes of up to 1250 m., usually in the vicinity of water. In drier regions this species is replaced by the Mulga and Blue-bonnet Parakeet.
Habits: Common, has learned to exploit civilisation. Red-rumped Parakeets frequently nest in the roof constructions of farmhouses and feed in the yard along with the domestic hens. Very often encountered by the roadside. Feeds and flies in association with Eastern Rosellas. Even in the wild the two species may interbreed. In some areas Starlings and Sparrows turned out to compete for nesting sites. Since these parakeets do not do any damage to wheat fields and are therefore popular with the farmers as well, people hang up nest boxes for them. The parakeets feed on grass seeds, the seeds of various oraches, millet, various flaxes, the seeds of weeds, poppies, and chickweed. Charcoal and grains of sand are ingested routinely. Outside the breeding season the animals gather in large flocks which split up into small groups at night, going off to roost in the trees. Breeding season from August (early spring) to December, sometimes already in May (depending on rainfall). Nesting not only in hollow trees but also in old sparrow's nests or inside the breeding chambers of Bee Eaters. Whether a nest is accepted depends on the hen, however. Four to seven eggs. Incubation period 17-20 days, from the second egg onwards. The eggs are laid at 48-hour intervals at onset, later at intervals of up to a week. During the early stages of incubating the male stays in close proximity to the nest. In the event of a disturbance the male utters a warning call and both animals fly off. A few days later the male once again attaches himself to a flock but returns to the nest every hour to feed the female in a nearby tree. Only the immediate vicinity of the nest is defended against members of the same species. Nesting period 30 days. The hen roosts inside the nest until the last of the young has fledged. First complete moult at the age of 3 months. The young birds pair off the following June.
Keeping: Probably in 1857 at London Zoo. A pleasant voice, persistent. Outside the breeding season it gets along well with members of its own species and with other parakeets. If an animal becomes ill, it may get attacked by its healthy partner. Red- rumped Parakeets can be left in the outdoor aviary even in the winter, but they must have access to a dry shelter free from drafts. An aviary length of at least 2 m. As the birds like to move about on the ground, germinating seeds should be provided for them there. Necessary measures must be taken to prevent worm infestation. Bathing facilities should be made available. Red-rumped Parakeets have also been successfully kept in free flight conditions.
We have seen in our Red Rumps in our avairy that they can be the dominant habitant of the aviary with Budgies and Bourkes also present. They do not harm other birds, but they can prevent the other birds from going past them if the space is narrow. An example is the hole from our inside to the outside flight can be blocked temporarily by the Red Rumps where the Budgies or Bourkes do not do this that we can tell.
Nest: In a tree hollow, preferably close to water. The hen lays four to seven but usually five, white, roundish eggs, about 15/64 by 3/4 inch (24 x 19 mm). These are brooded by the hen alone for about 20 days. The hen broods very closely (also in the wild) and will sit even in the face of real danger. I have personally tried to push a hen from her clutch several times, but she will sit tightly and not even panic! At about thirty days of age, the young leave the nest but are dependent on their parents for some time thereafter. The young are sexually mature at twelve months of age. Two, sometimes three, broods may be reared in a season.
Distribution: Found in south-eastern Australia. The bird is quite common but scarcer in Victoria. It inhabits mainly grassland and agricultural areas. The subspecies P. h. haematonotus is replaced by P. h. caeruleus in South Australia (around Innamincka) in the Flinders Ranges, but it is not known if the races interbreed in the wild.
Diet: Sunflower seeds, millet, canary seed, groats, grass seeds, woodland bird mix, greenstuff (chickweed, plantain, milk thistle, dandelion, lettuce, spinach), corn on the cob, apples, carrots, white bread soaked in milk.
Breeding in captivity: These well-known and loved aviary birds like to forage on the ground both in the wild and in the aviary. For successful breeding a roomy nest box, 13-1/4 inches (35 cm) high by 4 3/4 by 9.8 inches (12 x 25 cm), entrance hole 2 1/3 inches (6 cm) in diameter--is necessary. As soon as they are feeding independently, the young should be separated from the parents as the cock can behave aggressively towards them, sometimes with dire results. Although this species behaves peaceably towards most other bird species, a pair should be kept away from others of their own kind or even other psittacines. I personally prefer to give each pair of red rumps a large aviary (at least 13 feet (4 m) long) to themselves. General care is similar to that required by the Rosellas. Red-rumped parakeets are ideal birds for beginners to aviculture. They may be used as foster parents, sometimes even for non-Australian parakeets! The foster youngsters must not, however, grow too large, but with smaller or similar sized species one usually can expect a successful outcome. First bred in captivity in 1857 in London. Matching of pairs virtually always successful. One-year-old birds are already able to breed. Cool temperatures often result in egg binding, hence the nest boxes should not be offered until April.
Incubation from the second egg onwards. The brooding hen is fed by her partner outside the nest. Examinations of the nest are tolerated, often the sitting hen even allows herself to be pushed off her eggs. During rearing, half-ripe seeds and ample greenstuff must be supplied to the birds or the parents may desert the brood. The birds remain with their parents, in loose association, for a long time. Where a second brood has been started, however, the cock attacks his male offspring. Newly fledged young birds are very shy. They become independent after one week but get fed for another 3 weeks or so, Good foster parents. Hybridisation with all the other members of the genus, with Eastern Rosella, Pale-headed Rosella, Western Rosella, Yellow Rosella, Mallee Ringneck Parakeet, Red-capped Parakeet.
Behaviour: The pairs stay together all year round. Social preening, feeding of the female by the male outside the breeding season as well. More frequent feeding when the birds start breeding. Courting males call loudly, nod the head, show a trembling of the slightly dropping wings, and fan the tail feathers. The defence of the breeding territory commences with singing and repeated tail shaking. This leads to close combat with the beaks.
Mutations: In Australia several mutations are known, including Lutino, cinnamon, fallow, blue, and pastel-blue. Unfortunately many of these are still not available in the United States or Europe. The best-known mutation, which is generally available, is the yellow red-rumped parakeet. I am not too impressed with the chosen name as we are really talking about a cinnamon-mutation! Another not uncommon mutation is the olive (pied) red-rumped parakeet in which the red rump of the male is lost. The "white" red-rumped parakeet, a product of yellow (cinnamon) x (pastel) blue is also gaining popularity. The white is really more silver, but in time, this will be improved. The mutation can only be produced via split-offspring. In addition, there is the yellow mutation with red eyes. This is not silver-yellow as in the Lutino, but more pastel coloured. Fallow, Lutino and Cinammon are genetically sex-linked recessive, whereas the (pastel) blue and the olive (pied) are autosomal recessive.
A dull yellowish mutation first appeared in Australia is sex-linked in its mode of inheritance. Also currently in Australia we have lutino, cinnamon, platinum and opaline (like the pearl in the cockatiels) which are sex linked. There is also fallow (probably sex-linked) and English pied (recessive).
Lastly platinum mutation is sex-linked but if placed with lutino it reacts differently than expected. For example:
platinum cock x normal hen = 50% platinum hens, 50% normal/platinum cocks platinum cock x lutino hen = 50% platinum hens, 50% platinum-lutino cocks (plat-ino).
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