|Psittacula eupatria range map|
The Alexandrine parakeet (Psittacula eupatria), also known as the Alexandrine parrot, is a medium-sized parrot in the genus Psittacula of the family Psittacidae. It is named after Alexander the Great, who transported numerous birds from Punjab to various European and Mediterranean countries and regions, where they were prized by the royalty, nobility and warlords.
The Alexandrine parakeet has established feral populations in Spain, England, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Iran, Hong Kong, and Japan, where it lives alongside feral populations of its close relative, the rose-ringed parakeet (Psittacula krameri).
Taxonomy and etymology
The Alexandrine parakeet was first described by French zoologist Mathurin Jacques Brisson as Psittaca Ginginiana or "La Perruche de Gingi" (The Gingi's Parakeet) in 1760; after the town of Gingee in southeastern India, which was a French outpost then. The birds may, however, merely have been held in captivity there. Carl Linnaeus redescribed the Alexandrine parakeet in 1766 as Psittacus eupatria.
The genus name Psittacula is a diminutive of the Latin word psittacus meaning "parrot", and the specific name eupatria is derived from the Ancient Greek words eu- meaning "well" and patriá meaning "descent".
Genetic analysis of the mitochondrial cytochrome b sequences of Psittacula parakeets has shown that the Alexandrine parakeet diverged from the lineage that gave rise to the rose-ringed parakeet (Psittacula krameri) and the Mauritius parakeet (Psittacula eques) about 5 million years ago.
The Alexandrine parakeet is one of the largest parakeets, measuring 56 to 62 cm (22 to 24 in) from the top of the head to the tip of the tail and weighing 200 to 300 g (7.1 to 10.6 oz). The tail measures 28 to 35 cm (11 to 14 in). It is predominantly green with a light blue-grey sheen on the cheeks and nape (back of the neck), particularly in males, yellow-green abdomen, maroon or reddish-brown patch on either shoulder and massive red beak with yellow tips. The upperside of the tail passes from green at the top to blue further down, and is yellow at the tip. The underside of the tail is yellow.
Adults are sexually dimorphic. Adult males have a black stripe across their lower cheeks and pink band on their nape. Adult females lack both a black stripe across their lower cheeks and a pink band on their nape. The young are similar in appearance to adult females but have shorter tails.
|Nominate Alexandrine parakeet (P. e. eupatria)||Western India, South India and Sri Lanka.||Nominate subspecies|
|Large Indian parakeet (P. e. nipalensis)||Eastern Afghanistan, Pakistan, North India, Central India, East India, Nepal and Bhutan.||It is larger than the nominate subspecies and more greyish-green. The back of the head and cheeks are washed with blue. Adult males have a broader black stripe across the lower cheek.|
|Large Burmese parakeet (P. e. avensis)||Northeast India, Bangladesh and Myanmar.||It has a smaller beak than the nominate subspecies. Males look like P. e. nipalensis, however the neck and underparts are more yellowish and there is a narrow blue stripe on the hindneck.|
|Large Andaman parakeet (P. e. magnirostris)||Andaman Islands and Coco Islands.||It is slightly larger than the nominate subspecies, and has a larger beak and brighter shoulder patch. Males have a narrow blue stripe above the nape band.|
|Thai rose-ringed parakeet (P. e. siamensis)||Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand.||It is smaller than the nominate subspecies and has a paler shoulder patch. It also has a yellowish face and neck. Males look like P. e. avensis, however the back of the head and nape are washed with blue.|
Ecology and behaviour
The Alexandrine parakeet lives in forests, woodlands, agricultural lands and mangrove forests at elevations of up to 900 m (3000 ft). It eats a variety of wild and cultivated seeds, buds, flowers, fruits and nuts. Flocks can cause extensive damage to ripening fruits and crops like maize and jowar. It usually lives in small flocks, but can form larger groups in areas where food is abundant or at communal roosts.
Its calls are usually harsh and loud, and deeper and more powerful than those of the closely-related rose-ringed parakeet. Calls range from a loud kree-aar or keeak to a resonant gr-aak. It shrieks loudly when alarmed or mobbing predators. Flocks are known to often excitedly vocalize together.
Alexandrine parakeets breed from November to April in their native range. They usually nest in tree hollows, but occasionally use tree holes excavated by themselves or cracks in buildings. Females lay 2 to 4 white, blunt oval-shaped eggs, measuring 27 to 34 mm (1.1 to 1.3 in). The average incubation period is 24 days. The chicks fledge at about 7 weeks of age, and are dependent on their parents until 3 to 4 months of age.
The Alexandrine parakeet is listed as near threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) because of its steep population decline due to habitat loss, persecution and excessive capture to cater to the demands of the illegal wildlife trade.
The sale of Alexandrine parakeets is banned in Pakistan, but they can be found being openly sold in the markets of Lahore and Rawalpindi. Their sale is also banned in India, and yet they are sold in broad daylight in urban bird markets, suggesting that the Indian government is allocating insufficient resources for their protection.
- BirdLife International (2013). "Psittacula eupatria". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
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- Ancillotto, Leonardo; Strubbe, Diederik; Menchetti, Mattia; Mori, Emiliano (2016-02-01). "An overlooked invader? Ecological niche, invasion success and range dynamics of the Alexandrine parakeet in the invaded range". Biological Invasions. 18 (2): 583–595. doi:10.1007/s10530-015-1032-y. ISSN 1387-3547.
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- Linnaeus, Carl (1766). Systema Naturae per Regna Tria Naturae, Secundum Classes, Ordines, Genera, Species, cum Characteribus, Differentiis, Synonymis, Locis (in Latin). Vol. I (12th ed.). Holmiae: (Laurentii Salvii). p. 140.
- Gill, Frank; Wright, Minturn (2006). Birds of the World: Recommended English Names. Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0691128278.
- Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert (1940). "εὖ". A Greek–English Lexicon (Ninth ed.). Oxford: Clarendon Press.
- Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert (1940). "πατριά". A Greek–English Lexicon (Ninth ed.). Oxford: Clarendon Press.
- Groombridge, Jim J.; Jones, Carl G.; Nichols, Richard A.; Carlton, Mark; Bruford, Michael W. (April 2004). "Molecular phylogeny and morphological change in the Psittacula parakeets". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 31 (1): 96–108. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2003.07.008. ISSN 1055-7903. PMID 15019611.
- Blanford, William Thomas (1895). The Fauna of British India, Including Ceylon and Burma. Birds. 3. London: Taylor and Francis.
- Ali, Salim (1941). The Book of Indian Birds. Bombay Natural History Society. ISBN 0195665236.
- Forshaw, Joseph M.; Knight, Frank (2010). Parrots of the World. CSIRO Publishing. ISBN 0643100571.
- Ilyas, Faiza (10 March 2013). "Parrots population declining fast in Sindh and Punjab: survey". Dawn. Archived from the original on 20 February 2018. Retrieved 18 February 2018.
- "TRAFFIC helps to claw back illegal parrot trade in India". World Wide Fund for Nature. 15 February 2012. Archived from the original on 20 February 2018. Retrieved 7 December 2016.
- "Alexandrine Parakeet at Bird-Stamps". Retrieved 24 October 2013.
- "Birds on Stamps: Thailand". Retrieved 24 October 2013.
- "Birds on Stamps: Mongolia". Retrieved 24 October 2013.
- "Birds on Stamps: Iran". Retrieved 24 October 2013.
- Alexandrine Parakeet (Psittacula eupatria) | Parrot Encyclopedia by the World Parrot Trust
- Birds of the Indian Subcontinent by Richard Grimmett, Carol Inskipp and Tim Inskipp, ISBN 1408127636
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Psittacula eupatria.|
- Wildscreen Arkive: Alexandrine parakeet (Psittacula eupatria) Gallery and fact sheet
- Oriental Bird Images: Alexandrine parakeet Selected images