Indian Ringneck Parrot
Indian Ringneck Parrot, Indian rose-ringed parakeet
by Robert Hudson
Amy Pike has been keeping parrots since she was a child. She had an African ringneck parrot, (a smaller bird than the Indian ringneck) that lived to be thirty years old. The bird passed away just within the last year. Leaving an empty hole in her life missing what she had for 30 years.
“Having lived with an African Ringneck pretty much my entire life, after her passing I needed another bird in my life. I know the Indians can be a bit more talkative and interactive than their smaller African counter-parts and so decided to get a baby.”
Four subspecies are recognized, though they look much the same.
Although this bird is referred to as a parrot and a parakeet, it is an entirely different specie than the common parakeet. Technically they are all parrots.
- African rose-ringed parakeet (P. k. krameri): western Africa in Guinea, Senegal, and southern Mauritania, east to western Uganda and southern Sudan, north to Egypt. Resident along the Nile valley and certainly Giza, it is sometimes seen on the north coast and in Sinai.
- Abyssinian rose-ringed parakeet (P. k. parvirostris) northwest Somalia, west across northern Ethiopia to Sennar state, Sudan
- Indian rose-ringed parakeet (P. k. manillensis) originates from the southern Indian subcontinent and has feral and naturalised populations worldwide.
- Boreal rose-ringed parakeet (P. k. borealis) is distributed in Bangladesh, Pakistan, northern India and Nepal to central Burma; introduced populations are found worldwide.
Indian Ringneck Parrot Habitat
The Indian Ringneck parrot is native to the southern Indian subcontinent and has feral and naturalized populations worldwide. Typically they are found in lightly wooded areas and encroach on orchards, farms and cornfields. Males will guard the nest areas preventing other species from nesting in their territory.
As a pet, the Indian Ringneck Parrot needs plenty of room in the cage, (because of it’s long tail feathers) to move around comfortably. Chew toys, perches, and brain games are needed to keep them from being bored. They need 2 or 3 hours out of the cage every day and mental stimulation.
Demands Daily Attention
Even if the bird was hand raised and well socialized, and you bonded to it in its first year, it still needs daily interaction and stimulation for it’s entire life or it will become nippy, temperamental, and destructive chewing on everything it can get a hold of. They love chewing on wood, picture frames, lamp shades and whatever strikes their fancy.
“Lots of mental enrichment including feeder toys, puzzles, climbing gyms, and positive reinforcement training. Rotating toys can help once the bird is acclimated enough to its environment. Birds can even be trained to wear a body harness and brought outside and taken to appropriate venues for increased mental enrichment,” Amy told me.
Indian Ringnecks love human contact with their care giver…but make sure its the right kind of attention! Amy warns, “If they are raised appropriately they can definitely be fond of human contact. Care must be taken not to interact with them in certain ways (such as rubbing under their wings). This is what a mate would do, and you can stimulate excessive sexual behavior and inappropriate bonding with the human caregiver.”
The Indian ringneck naturally is green. In captivity, color mutations have been bred making the bird available in several colors and shades. Their beak and circle around the eye are always red. Body colors include turquoise, cinnamon, olive, white, blue, violet, pied, grey and yellow and many shades in between.
The colors are soft and almost pastel in appearance making it rather difficult to visually see the distinct feathers.
The males will get the classic neck “ring” by age 2. The females get a muted rose colored ring (or just a darker shade of their feather color).
Click on each pic to see an enlargement: Indian rose-ringed parakeet, (Indian Ringneck Parrot)
Feeding Your Indian Ringneck Parrot
Wild rose-ringed parakeets usually feed on buds, fruits, vegetables, nuts, berries, and seeds. Wild flocks also fly several miles to forage in farmlands and orchards, causing extensive damage. Feral parakeets will regularly visit gardens and other locations near human habitation, taking food from bird feeders.
For your pet Indian Ringneck, commercial specially formulated pellets, seed, and dried fruit is available. Fresh fruit and leafy veggies should also be in the mix. 1/4 cup of pellets and 1/4 cup of fruits and vegetables daily. Increase the amount as needed. Remove the uneaten foods to prevent spoilage. Some birds will not eat pellets if mixed with seed. If this happens, feed the pellets in a separate bowl and alternate them.
Avocados, rhubarb, chocolate and some other common human foods are poison to these birds. Food and water bowls should be cleaned daily to reduce the risk of bacterial growth and infection. Birds can also become obese if not fed a balanced pellet with fresh fruits and vegetables.
A yearly exam is needed to monitor organs and other critical issues. “Just like with dogs and cats, a physical exam including listening to heart and lungs with a stethoscope and palpation of abdominal organs as well as routine laboratory work is recommended. There are veterinarians who specialize in Avian medicine. Warning signs of health concerns include weight loss or weight gain, beak or nail growth issues, and changes in appetite,” explained Amy who herself is a veterinarian.
Behavior– How to Stop Biting
Parrots in general like to feel in control and bite when they feel startled, frightened or fearful. In many cases it only takes one incident to make them fearful to the point where it is a continual problem. Dr. Laurie Hess is a renowned bird DVM and says the following on PetMD
“Birds are great at sensing human emotions and they can tell when a human is afraid of them. To discourage your bird from biting when you are trying to get it to step-up onto your hand, you must present your hand in a confident, firm manner, in front of and just below the bird’s belly, where its body meets its legs.
She goes on to explain
You should say, “Step up,” in a clear voice, using the same tone and volume each time you ask. You must hold your hand steady and not waiver, even if the bird reaches down first with its beak to pull itself up onto your hand. Holding steady is key; you wouldn’t want to step onto a platform if it were moving back and forth, so why should your bird? If the bird does grasp your hand firmly with its beak as it steps up, you must not pull away from it or yell, as this simply teaches your bird to be afraid of your moving hand—and of you as you scream.
All it takes is one episode for a bird reaching out to step onto a hand that is pulled away, causing the bird to fall, or one time for a bird using its beak to pull itself onto a hand and being startled by a scream to teach the bird to fear the hand the next time. If you are not comfortable presenting your hand to a bird to step-up, you can try using a perch or other stick. The perch also must be presented in a firm, unwavering manner. Otherwise the bird will learn to fear the perch.
All birds bite at one time or another. They key is to stop the behavior before it gets out of control. The worst thing you can do if your bird bites you is to yell at it to stop. Doing so just reinforces the biting by rewarding it with attention. Many owners do this unwittingly and the biting only gets worse because the bird sees that it gets the owner’s attention when it bites. Thus, it continues to bite.
The best thing you can do if your bird bites is to gently put the bird down—just like giving a time-out to a child having a tantrum—and walk away. Try not to acknowledge the behavior. When the bird has calmed down and its body language indicates that it is ready to step-up calmly, you can go back to it and try to pick it up again. read more at PetMD
Dangers to your bird
Loud noises and commotion can cause your bird to have a panic attack, night frights (thrashing around the cage during the night as if startled).
Keep the bird cage away from drafts and the kitchen. Keep away from the direct path of air condioners or heating vents. Do not point fans directly at your birds cage. Scents from air freshners, scented candles, incense, and tobacco smoke are all toxic to birds when the room is poorly ventilated. Lead poisoning. Sources: Lead-based paint, curtain weights, bells with lead clappers, imported bird toys, stained glass, leaded crystal glassware, handmade jewelry, etc.
Move the bird
When using products that give off strong fumes, it’s best to move the bird to a separate room. Open windows to ensure plenty of ventilation. Placing a towel under the door of the bird’s room can also help reduce fumes exposure. When painting walls in a home, the use of VOC-free paints (volatile organic compounds) may be safer.
Alternatively, consider boarding birds off-site during construction, remodeling, or intense whole-house cleaning until odors have dissipated. Burnt food on pans, or teflon gives off a toxic smell that is dangerous to birds
The negative aspects of Indian Ringneck Parrots
Parrots are loud, chatty, and screech an ear piercing octave. They are messy. Unless you are a child, they will outlive you. They need daily attention.
Oh the noise
Amy explains, “You can teach your bird that being loud does not get them what they want (which is generally attention) by completely ignoring them when they are loud, and engage with them when they are polite and quieter. They are messy but seed guards on the cage and using a clear plastic shower curtain attached around the back can help (and place all food items towards the back of the cage). Pooping when they are out of their cage will happen.
It doesn’t typically bother me because its very easy to wipe up with a paper towel and does not smell. You can help train them to use their cage by being vigilant to their body language. When they prepare to poop (they generally fluff their feathers and start to back up while holding their tail upright) you can quickly (but non dramatically, so as not to scare them!) bring them back to their cage or play gym. Once they have pooped, you can reward them with a treat like a piece of dried fruit. My previous bird ADORED red vines licorice. When you see the pooping preparation again repeat the cycle. However, they poop frequently so you have to be vigilant.”
Teaching your ring neck parakeet to talk
To get started, choose a short phrase- one or two words. Something like bye-bye, hello there, you’re pretty. Speak in a clear and friendly tone. Repeat the word in the same pitch-tone over and over. Watch carefully as you repeat the words and see if it grabs the bird’s attention. Keep repeating it, and if the bird ignores it, try a different word.
Set up a daily training routine. It may take days, weeks, months, or even years for the bird to say its first word. Ringnecks are one of the parrots most likely to mimic speech and other sounds. They love to whistle too. Teach them to talk before the whistle because otherwise they may prefer whistling and never speak. Choose your words carefully because once they learn it you may be stuck hearing it for a long time!
Some people have used a recording to teach their bird to talk. It may work, but doing it yourself builds a stronger bond with your bird. A strong bond makes for better behavior.
If you want a medium size parrot that is colorful, vibrant in color and personality, or If you want a parrot known for talking and you can put up with noise and mess, then this may be the right parrot for you. If you are over 40 years old you may want to consider a Bungie who will not outlive you.
Special thanks to
Amy L. Pike, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Behaviorists
Animal Behavior Wellness Center
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