Scientific name: Psittacula krameri krameri – African; Psittacula krameri manillensis – Indian
Ornithological name: Rose-ringed Parakeet
Adult length: 37cm (14½”) African; 40cm (16″) Indian
Adult weight: 105g African; 115g Indian.
Potential lifespan: About 40 years.
Ringnecks are similar in size to Quakers, so click here for a list of products that may be suitable for them.
Status in Wild: Common.
Immature plumage: Resembles that of the female, except that the tail is much shorter. The dark eyes of very young birds give them a gentle appearance.
Origin: Central Africa; India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Burma. Introduced or living as feral populations in countless countries. In the UK it is so well established, especially in the south-east that they are now on the list of British birds!
Pet potential: Some male Ringnecks have made good pets but there are many more suitable species that can tolerate long periods daily inside a cage. A Ringneck would not be happy under these conditions.
It is an intelligent bird that easily becomes bored and needs a more stimulating life than that which it receives when closely confined. When let out to fly about the room it can do serious damage to furniture.
This could then lead to it being permanently confined, which is not acceptable. There is another factor to consider: Psittacula Parakeets belong to the group, which includes Eclectus, in which the pair bond is weak and is not maintained throughout the year.
In this, they differ from Parrots such as Cockatoos, Macaws, Amazons, and Greys, which are very affectionate towards their mates and, when kept as companions, display the same behavior towards their favorite person/people.
A Ringneck is unlikely to make an affectionate pet but it could be a very clever one. In India, Ringnecks used to be trained to perform tricks, in front of people who were willing to pay to watch such amusing birds.
One could twirl a stick that was a light at both ends, he could apparently use a miniature bow and arrow, and draw water in a small wooden bucket. He could thread tiny beads, load, and fire a tiny cannon which made a loud bang and retrieve small objects thrown across a room. However, if his owner became impatient with him, he refused to perform.
A female is less likely to make an interesting companion bird unless it receives a great deal of attention on a daily basis. Females can become quite possessive about the person they like best.
Young birds resemble females and males do not acquire adult plumage until they are just over two years old. However, not many people outside Asia are likely to seek a Ringneck as a pet as this species is usually regarded as an aviary bird.
Most Ringnecks look uncomfortable if caged when consideration must be given to the length of the tail, and a spacious cage provided. Their superior flying skills demand an aviary, although many breeders keep them in flights of inadequate length. Ideally, they need 6m (20ft) at least.
Mimicry: Some Ringnecks have become very good mimics and acquired quite extensive vocabulary.
Feral Ringnecks: You have to see a Ringneck Parakeet speeding through the skies with its streamlined body, pointed wings, and long tail, so graceful and elegant, to understand why life in a cage is hard for this species to accept. They are magnificent in flight! Go to Kew Gardens in Surrey, for example, and see them at their best!
They nest in the large trees there. Many people marvel at the hardiness of these birds that can survive the most severe of our winters but they naturally occur at some very high altitudes where the climate is very cold.
Also, they have learned to take advantage of the sunflower seed in bird feeders. These feral birds have become a contentious issue. Most people love them but some growers are demanding that they be eradicated. However, it is many years too late for this to be feasible.
Breeding: Dozens of mutations have been established in captivity and most of the breeders are primarily interested in this aspect. As they are not usually bred for the pet trade, few hand-reared birds are offered for sale. In female-dominant species, which are in the minority among Parrots but include most Psittacula parakeets such as Ringnecks, males and females do not need to be kept together throughout the year.
Males could be kept together in a group out of the breeding season, then introduced to a female in perhaps October or November, ready for the breeding season which starts (in Ringnecks) in February. This long period is often necessary for him to pluck up the courage to court the female! Once courtship feeding occurs, the female has accepted him.
I would appeal to breeders not to hand-feed young ones just to make them easier to sell. Consider their future quality of life…
Diet: Ringnecks need a good quality Parakeet mixture containing only a small amount of sunflower seed. They thrive on lots of wild foods such as seeding dock, smooth sow thistle, chickweed, groundsel, and young dandelion leaves. Raw, grated, or cooked carrot, celery, broccoli, green beans, and peas in the pod will be relished. All the usual fruits can be offered, also hawthorn berries.