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|Male (left) and female (right)|
|Psittacula eupatria range map|
The Alexandrine parakeet or Alexandrian parrot (Psittacula eupatria) is a member of the psittaciformes order and of the family Psittaculidae. The species is named after Alexander the Great, who is credited with the exporting of numerous specimens of this bird from Punjab into various European and Mediterranean countries and regions, where they were considered prized possessions for the nobles, royalty & warlords.
The species name eupatria has its origins from Greek. Where the prefix eu translates into good or noble and the suffix patria is a Greek word translating as either fatherland or ancestry. Consequently, the species' scientific name means something in the line "of noble ancestry", "of noble fatherland" or "of noble nation".
The species has naturalized itself in numerous European countries. Particularly in Germany, in the south of England, in Belgium, in Greece, in western Turkey and in the Netherlands where it generally lives amongst or alongside flocks of naturalized Psittacula krameri (aka ring-necked or rose-ringed parakeet).
The Alexandrine parakeet is one of the largest species of parakeet (long tail) species, thus often being the largest parrot in their native range. This species measures 58 cm (23 in) in total length with a wing length averaging 18.9–21.5 cm (7.4–8.5 in) and a tail length of 21.5–35.5 cm (8.5–14.0 in). Adult birds commonly weigh between 200 and 300 g (7.1 and 10.6 oz). It is mainly green with a blue-grey sheen on its cheeks and nape, particularly in males. The abdomen is yellowish-green, the upperside of the middle tail feathers is blueish-green, the upperside of the external tail feathers is green while the underside of the tail feathers are all yellow. All Alexandrine parakeets (irrespective of age, gender and/or sub-species) boldly display a maroon (reddish-brown) patch at the top of their wing coverts (commonly called 'shoulder' patch). The shoulder patch is seen in parakeets at their first feathering before fledging. The lower and upper mandibles are red with yellow tips. The adult's irises are yellowish-white and the periopthalmic rings are light grey. The legs are grey except in the P. e. siamensis (Laos' or Siamese sub-species) where they are yellowish-grey.
The species is dimorphic in adulthood (3 years and older). The immatures are monomorphic and are similar but duller in appearance to that of the adult females. Adult males always show pitch-black neck rings and large pink bands on their napes (commonly called nape bands). Often males only display a narrow band of blueish-grey above their bold pink nape-band. Adult females frequently show neck ring shadows that are anywhere between light and dark shades of grey. Females never display true black feathers in their neck-rings. Immatures of either genders are very similar to adult females but, as with all genuine parakeet species, the young Alexandrine parakeets always display shorter middle-tail feathers and thus shorter tails than adults. The adult feathering usually is acquired between 18–30 months of age, but may sometimes show up as young as 12 and/or as old as a full 36 months of age. Consequently, it may be difficult to identify the sex of Alexandrine parakeets by sight with absolute certainty until they are a full 36 months of age.
The young males can be identified as soon as they display one (or more) pitch-black feathers of their neck rings and/or one (or more) pink feathers of their nape bands. Often, the young males develop their neck rings and nape bands in two or sometimes three successive moulting seasons. Adult parakeets with neither pitch-black feathers in their neck rings nor pink feathers in their nape bands are usually females.
Sub-species with distribution
The following sub-species, many of them allopatric are recognised based on geographical distribution:
- Psittacula eupatria eupatria, Nominate Alexandrine parakeet - East India to Hyderabad, Telangana in the South, Sri Lanka.
- Psittacula eupatria avensis, Indo-Burmese Alexandrine parakeet - Northeast India to Amherst in Myanmar
- Psittacula eupatria magnirostris, Andaman Islands Alexandrine parakeet - Andaman Islands
- Psittacula eupatria nipalensis, Nepalese Alexandrine parakeet - Eastern Afghanistan, Pakistan, North and central India, Nepal, Bhutan to Assam in Northeast India.
- Psittacula eupatria siamensis, Laos' or Siamese Alexandrine parakeet - Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, north and east Thailand
The P. e. nipalensis ssp. (Nepalese Alexandrine parakeet) is the largest of the species measuring 62 cm (24 in) in total length with a wing length averaging 20–24 cm (7.9–9.4 in). It is thus recognized as the world's largest genuine parakeet (short to mid-sized long-tailed parrot) species. It looks much like the Nominate sub-species. However, the feathers on the chest and abdomen in both genders display whitish-grey sheens, the cheeks and napes are washed with blue and the adult males display large pink nape bands. These parrots are "aggressive" and can bite if disturbed when doing some curious work. They have red and pink patches on the wings.
The P. e. magnirostris ssp. (Andaman Islands Alexandrine parakeet) is slightly larger than the nominate sub-species, displaying a wing length anywhere between 20–22.5 cm (7.9–8.9 in). It looks much like the nominate race, however, the feathers on the chest and abdomen in both genders display whitish-grey sheens. The maroon 'shoulder' patch is of a much redder (or less brownish) colour than that of the nominate. The beak is larger and more massive. The adult males display large pink nape bands, the blue sheens above the nape-bands are restricted and sometimes absent in some specimens.
The P. e. avensis ssp. (Indo-Burmese Alexandrine parakeet) is of similar size as the nominate species, measuring 58 cm (23 in), displaying a wing length averaging anywhere between 19.4–22 cm (7.6–8.7 in) and often mistaken for the Nominate ssp. However, the top of the head and the nape are of a yellowish-green, the blue sheens are restricted to the cheeks and thus absent in the nape. The adult males display thinner and pinker nape-bands.
The P. e. siamensis ssp. (Laos or Siamese Alexandrine parakeet) is the smallest of the species, measuring 56 cm (22 in), displaying a wing length averaging anywhere between 17.9–20.5 cm (7.0–8.1 in) and looks much like the Nominate ssp. Typically, the top of the head and the nape display pale-blue sheens which can extend to the crown in some specimens. The cheeks are yellowish-green, the 'shoulder' patch is of a nearly brownless red colour and the legs display a pronounced yellowish shade.
Natural breeding habits
Breeding season is from November to April in their natural distribution range. Average clutch size is 2–4 eggs measuring 34.0 mm × 26.9 mm (1.34 in × 1.06 in). The average incubation period is 28 days usually starting with the laying of the second egg. The chicks fledge around seven weeks of age. they are cared for, educated and reared for about the 21 following days (3 weeks) and are typically weaned between 3 and 4 months (12 to 16 weeks) of age.
They are critically endangered in Pakistan, especially in Punjab province. This is mostly due to loss of habitat (cutting of old trees), and excessive poaching of wild chicks. Although their sale is officially banned in Pakistan, they can be found openly being sold in markets of Lahore and Rawalpindi. Trapping pressure to cater to the demands of the pet trade have caused a drastic decline in this species' wild population. It is illegal to trade in Alexandrine parakeets in India and yet these birds are sold in broad daylight in urban bird markets, suggesting that the Indian government is allocating insufficient resources towards the protection of this species.
This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (November 2008) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
- BirdLife International (2013). "Psittacula eupatria". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- Campbell-Johnston, Rachell (2007-02-13). "A squawk on the wild side". The Times. London. Retrieved 16 January 2013.
- Ali, S. (1988). The Book of Indian Birds. Bombay: Bombay Natural History Society. ISBN 978-0-19-562167-9.
- del Hoyo, J; Elliot, A; Sargatal, J (1996). Handbook of the Birds of the World. 3. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 84-87334-20-2.
- Warshaw; Joseph M., Frank; Knight (October 1, 2010). Parrots of the World. CSIRO Publishing. pp. 71–76. ISBN 978-0643100572.
- "TRAFFIC helps to claw back illegal parrot trade in India". WWF India. 15 February 2012. Retrieved 7 December 2016 – via http://www.wwfindia.org/.
- "Birds on Stamps: Thailand". Retrieved 24 October 2013.
- "Alexandrine Parakeet at Bird-Stamps". Retrieved 24 October 2013.
- "Birds on Stamps: Mongolia". Retrieved 24 October 2013.
- "Birds on Stamps: Iran". Retrieved 24 October 2013.
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