HAMILTON & DISTRICT BUDGERIGAR SOCIETY INC.



SCARLET CHESTED or SPLENDID PARAKEETS: (Neophema splendida)
(Pictures are at the bottom.)

BREEDING INFO:
Breeding cages for these birds should be 18 inches high by 18 inches deep and at least 30 inches long or wide. Books say they mature at 18 months which usually means they can breed at this age. Their eggs take 18 days to incubate. The nest box should be 8 inches wide by 8 inches high by 16 inches deep. The entrance hole is 2 to 3 inches. The box should have wood shavings or mulch as a base.

APPEARANCE:
Male: Head & neck are sea-blue, topside is green, underside is yellow with red crop area. Wings are blue-green with bright blue and black. The tail is green with yellow and black. Brown eyes, black bill, gray-brown black feet.
Female: Underside is yellow, breast has olive-green shine, darker on back than the male. Sides of head considerably less blue, no red on the crop and chest area.
Size: Length is 8 to 8 1/2 inches. Wings are 4 to 4 1/2 inches. Tail is 4 to 4 1/2 inches.

MUTATIONS:
These are a few of the mutations for the splendid parakeet. The Yellow Pied, Sea-Green, Pastel Blue, Blue, Cinnamon, Isabel, Fallow and Red-Bellied. Each of these can be bred to a pied where if a normal scarlet chested is bred to a pied its male babies will have a blotched red chest instead of a basically solid red color.

The male of this species is truly a beautiful bird, with colors of red, sky blue, deep ocean blue and green. There is no problem in identifying the male bird once he molts into full color. The young males are a little more difficult to sex from the hens until the red feathers show up on the chest. A pretty good guess can be made if there are two or more chicks: the male is the one with the most (and brightest) blue near and on the head. Some breeders try to sex these young birds by the white markings under the wings. Their theory is that if the white markings are really prominent, it is a hen. So far, so good. (This is a good high percentage guess, and nothing else.) They also assume that if the white markings are very faint, or missing completely, then it is a male bird. This is where the error is made, because in this case the young bird may turn out to be of either sex. In one instance I banded six young birds, none of which had any white markings under the wings; four turned out to be hens.

The young or adult hens are a little difficult to tell apart from turquoisine hens, but if both birds are observed side by side, the color along the lower portion of the wings is one easy way to tell the two species apart. The scarlet-chested female has a lot of real light powder blue and less (but some) deep ocean blue on the lower edge of the wings. The turquoisine female has very little or sometimes none of the powder blue (which is sometimes called sky blue) and lots of deep blue on the lower portion of the wings. By placing two birds, one of each species, side by side, you will readily see the difference. The scarlet-chested is a very quiet little bird even by grass parakeet standards. They all have a very soft voice, so breeders need never worry about disturbing their neighbours. The grass parakeets are about the same size as a budgerigar, but surely a lot quieter.

The scarlet-chested has the reputation of being very delicate to raise, but this is certainly not so for birds housed and fed properly. They may be more susceptible to colds or head injuries, but with proper care and housing they will not get colds or head injuries. They are double-clutched and sometimes even triple-clutched, laying from four to seven eggs. In extreme cases three eggs or maybe nine or ten eggs may be laid, but usually it will be either five or six eggs. Usually the hen incubates the eggs by herself; but not always. As mentioned before, she lays one egg every other day and generally starts setting tight (incubating) the eggs about the time the third egg is laid. The incubation period is approximately nineteen days. The young chicks remain in the nest for a period of twenty-four to twenty-eight days, usually, with the hen remaining in the nest box every night after the last chick is hatched for a period of eight to ten days. After the young chicks leave the nest box, the male bird usually takes over the feeding chores. I leave the young chicks in the pen for a period of twenty-one days after they leave the nest box; I then remove them to a holding cage.

This way, I know they are capable of feeding themselves when removed. On very rare occasions, the male bird has attacked some the chicks (probably males) when they leave the nest. In these rare cases I remove the male bird until the chicks are fledged and put into the holding pen, and then I put the male back with the hen. (More on this under turquoisines.) The male bird will usually come into full color after the second moult; sometimes he comes into color after the first moult. The moulting period in my area is usually in August September.

The hen sometimes will return to the nest box and lay another clutch of eggs after going through the moulting process. Usually about one pair out of four pairs will do so. I had one scarlet-chested male bird that had red on the frontal area all the way down to the knee area, the red below the chest area being orange-red. It was truly a beautiful bird. It died recently, and I am having the skin preserved by a tax-idermist. I do have some young birds that were hatched from this colourful bird, and they, males and hens both, also have some of the orange-red color on the lower abdomen, so I am sure this rare colouring is the result of heredity, not environment, and will therefore reproduce. I hope to develop an all-red frontal area strain, which I understand has already been accomplished in Europe.

COLONY BREEDING
These birds are of a very gentle nature, and I wouldn't be surprised if someone were to come along and state that he had been successfully colony breeding them. But I am not aware of anyone at this time who is doing so, at least not in any great number of pairs. I do know several breeders who are breeding two pairs together, some with better results than others.

Male & Female Blue Mutation of Splendid
Male & female Blue

Blue Mutation of Splendid Parakeet-------Normal Scarlet Chested Splendid

E-Mail: berniehansen@sympatico.ca

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