Alexandrine parakeet

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Alexandrine parakeet
Alexandrine Parakeet (Psittacula eupatria) pair -2pc.jpg
Male (left) and female (right)
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Psittaciformes
Family: Psittacidae
Genus: Psittacula
Species: P. eupatria
Binomial name
Psittacula eupatria
(Linnaeus, 1766)
Psittacula eupatria range map.png
Psittacula eupatria range map

The Alexandrine parakeet (Psittacula eupatria), also known as the Alexandrine ring-necked parakeet or Alexandrine parrot, is a 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 nobility, royalty and warlords.[2][3][4]

The Alexandrine parakeet has established feral populations in Spain, France, England, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Turkey, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Iran, where it lives alongside feral populations of the rose-ringed parakeet (Psittacula krameri).[1][5]

Taxonomy and etymology[edit]

The Alexandrine parakeet was described by French zoologist Mathurin Jacques Brisson as Psittaca Ginginiana or "La Perruche de Gingi" (The Gingi's Parakeet) in 1760.[6] Carl Linnaeus described the Alexandrine parakeet in 1766 as Psittacus eupatria, identifying it as the same as Brisson's species.[7]

The genus name Psittacula is a diminutive of the Latin word psittacus meaning "parrot", and the specific name eupatria comes from the Ancient Greek words eu- meaning "well" and patriá meaning "descent".[8][9][10]


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.[11]



The Alexandrine parakeet is one of the largest parakeets, measuring 55 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). It has wing length of 19 to 21.5 cm (7.5 to 8.5 in) and a tail length of 21.5 to 35.5 cm (8.5 to 14.0 in).[3][2] 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 and red beak with yellow tips. 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 is yellow. All individuals, irrespective of gender and/or subspecies, have a reddish-brown patch on their primary wing coverts, called a shoulder patch. The shoulder patch develops at the first feathering before fledging.[3][12]

Adult alexandrine parakeets are sexually dimorphic, while the young are monomorphic and are similar in appearance to adult females but have shorter tail feathers and duller plumage. Adult males usually have prominent black rings on their neck and large pink bands on their napes, but sometimes only have a narrow blue stripe above their nape bands. Adult parakeets with neither black feathers in their neck nor pink feathers in their nape are females. Adult feathering usually develops between 18 and 30 months of age.[2][3][12]


Five subspecies of the Alexandrine parakeet are currently recognized. Information on the distribution and plumage differences of the different subspecies is given below.[3][12]

Subspecies Distribution Notes
Nominate Alexandrine parakeet (P. e. eupatria) East India, southwestern India and Sri Lanka. Nominate subspecies
Large Indian parakeet (P. e. nipalensis) Nepal, Bhutan, Northeast India, North India, Central India, Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan. It is larger than the nominate subspecies and the back of the head and cheeks are washed with blue. The nape bands of adult males are broader.
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 top of the head and the nape are more yellow-green and some individuals have a thin blue stripe on the hindneck.
Large Andaman parakeet (P. e. magnirostris) Andaman Islands and Coco Islands. It is slightly larger than the nominate subspecies. It also has a larger beak and brighter shoulder patch. Males have a thin 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. It also has a more red shoulder patch and 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[edit]

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, nectar, fruits and nuts.[3]

It usually lives in small flocks but forms larger groups in areas where food is abundant. It is known to form communal roosts. Its calls are usually harsh and loud. It shrieks loudly when alarmed by predators and flocks often excitedly vocalize together.[3][12]


Alexandrine parakeets breed from November to April in their native range. Females lay 2 to 4 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.[3]


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.[1]

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.[13][14]

Cultural depictions[edit]

Detail of a Hellenistic mosaic floor panel showing an Alexandrine parakeet, from the acropolis of Pergamon (near modern Bergama, Turkey), dated to the middle of the 2nd century BC (during the reigns of Eumenes II and Attalus II)

Thailand, Mongolia and Iran have stamps depicting the Alexandrine parakeet.[15][16][17][18]



  1. ^ a b c BirdLife International (2013). "Psittacula eupatria". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c "Alexandrine Parakeet (Psittacula eupatria)". World Parrot Trust. Retrieved 2018-02-16. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h del Hoyo, Josep; Nigel J., Collar; David A., Christie; Andrew, Elliot; Lincoln D.C, Fishpool (2014). HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Volume 1: Non-passerines. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 8496553949. 
  4. ^ Campbell-Johnston, Rachel (13 February 2007). "A squawk on the wild side". The Times. London. Retrieved 16 January 2013. 
  5. ^ Coughlan, Sean (6 July 2004). "Wild parrots settle in suburbs". Retrieved 2018-02-16. 
  6. ^ Brisson, Mathurin Jacques (1760). Ornithologia, sive Synopsis methodica sistens avium divisionem in ordines, sectiones, genera, species, ipsarumque varietates (in Latin). 4. Paris, Leiden: Bauche. p. 343. 
  7. ^ 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. 
  8. ^ Gill, Frank; Wright, Minturn (2006). Birds of the World: Recommended English Names. Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0691128278. 
  9. ^ Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert (1940). "εὖ". A Greek–English Lexicon (Ninth ed.). Oxford: Clarendon Press. 
  10. ^ Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Richard (1940). "πατριά". A Greek–English Lexicon (Ninth ed.). Oxford: Clarendon Press. 
  11. ^ 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. 
  12. ^ a b c d Forshaw, Joseph M.; Knight, Frank (2010). Parrots of the World. CSIRO Publishing. ISBN 0643100571. 
  13. ^ 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. 
  14. ^ "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. 
  15. ^ "Alexandrine Parakeet at Bird-Stamps". Retrieved 24 October 2013. 
  16. ^ "Birds on Stamps: Thailand". Retrieved 24 October 2013. 
  17. ^ "Birds on Stamps: Mongolia". Retrieved 24 October 2013. 
  18. ^ "Birds on Stamps: Iran". Retrieved 24 October 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]