The Indian native bird, the Indian Ringneck Parakeet or Psittacula krameri manillensis, has been given a bad name among many bird enthusiasts in the past. They have been reported as fit for being aviary birds only and as being temperamental and cold in nature. I’m here to report that these guys do make awesome little pet birds and are great to have around for entertainment and companionship.
Let’s start by clarifying what a parakeet is. Most people associate the term “parakeet” with the small blue or greenish yellow birds commonly found in supermarkets and pet stores. These are in fact, called Budgerigars or Budgies for short. The term “parakeet” simply refers to any psittacine bird that is smaller than a Conure that has a long tail. This widely used name isn’t necessarily being incorrectly used when referring to Budgies but it’s not accurate either. There are a number of bird breeds that fall under the category of Parakeets, including Quaker Parakeets and Indian Ringneck Parakeets.
Indian Ringneck Parakeets, or IRNs for short, obtain a length of around 16 inches at adulthood. The tail feathers alone can be almost half that length. A healthy specimen can live from twenty to thirty years of age, so careful consideration should be taken into account when one chooses to purchase this type of bird. The birds come in a number of color varieties ranging from the normal green pattern, with the black ring around the neck highlighted in hues of pinks and yellows, to lutinos, albinos, blues, grays, and olive greens. Although it can be difficult to determine the sex of true albinos and lutinos, other colorations do show some differences between the sexes. Generally, males have a much more distinct ring, showing the shades of pink and yellow and while females may still have a ring it is more dilute and muted.
The IRN is a very active bird. It must be provided ample space so a large cage is necessary. They become bored very easily making many toys a must. If left to find their own entertainment, the bird may become destructive to itself or to other objects that may be inappropriate for bird chewing. They are highly intelligent which should also be taken into account as they will quickly figure out how to unlatch cage doors, unhook toys, and can even quickly become bored with puzzle toys. Each bird should be allowed daily interaction with his family at a minimum. They want to be a part of your flock and they want to be the center of attention. While many of them may prefer to not be cuddled but rather played with, some of them do enjoy a good head scratch and chin rub.
Indian Ringneck Parakeets are often not given enough credit for talking ability. These birds can make awesome talkers, putting up quite the competition against Quakers and Amazons. Many new bird owners do not realize, however, that their bird is attempting to speak when it is first learning. IRNs have a very high metabolism and appear to be sped up all the time. Speech is often difficult to interpret as the bird is trying to speak so fast that we as humans are unable to understand. Once perfected, the bird can speak as clearly as any other and can learn any number of words and phrases.
Their small size can often be misleading when it comes to noise level. As any bird owner knows, and every potential bird owner should know, all birds make noise. Some more than others, some are louder than others. These birds do appear to have a preference for making noise at any time during the day, but they aren’t as loud as some of the larger parrots. For example, we have seven birds in our home. Our Indian Ringneck is by far the noisiest of the bunch, but she’s not nearly as loud as the Eclectus, who makes the least amount of noise in our home. So, the volume has to be considered with the amount of noise from the bird.
Diet always plays a key role in keeping a healthy and happy bird. As with any bird, research should be done prior to the purchase, and part of that research should include what you are to feed the individual. Feed items the bird would find in his natural habitat. Fruits, vegetables, wheat and grains should be offered daily. With Indian Ringnecks, you will quickly find that they aren’t a bit picky as long as they think they are getting something really special. A healthy supply of fresh food and clean water should be available at all times, but to keep the bird from becoming lazy and overweight one might try to make feeding more interesting. Toys are available for foraging; they have small holes for the bird to pick food out of, puzzles that require some work in order to get to the treat and even hiding food in and under toys will keep your bird busy looking for food.
Now we’ll address the temperament of these birds. Too often they’ve been labeled as aggressive and aviary only birds. If a bird is kept to the confines of his cage and isn’t allowed daily access to his family and to have time out to play then you may find that your bird may fall under this description. However, every single bird should be allowed time out of his cage every day to spend with his family; IRNs are no exception. Whether you’ve adopted an adult bird that needs some work and training, or are purchasing a young hand fed baby you will still need to stay on top of training. The breed is strong willed and can quickly run right over their owners but when tamed appropriately, they make wonderful pets and life time companions. This is the type of breed that will simply give back what it is given. Give him love and companionship, and he will do the same for you.
In ancient India these birds were once regarded as sacred and holy creatures and were owned by those of the royal family and the very rich for many years and for good reasoning. They are awesome birds with beautiful coloring; add in a sweet personality and you’ve got yourself an ideal bird for those willing to spend the time with them. IRN owners of today still regard them as sacred, perhaps for different reasons as in ancient times. Regardless of why these birds have been and still are held on a pedestal, they are still deserving of the utmost respect and the best care possible. In return, you will be rewarded with a loving, gorgeous little feathered boy or girl always by your side.