Parrotlet or Parakeet- What Is the Difference?

When you go to buy your first parrot at the pet store, you notice the tags on the cages: Parrotlet. Parakeet. You wrinkle your brow. Huh? They look similar to each other. What is the difference? A more experienced aviculturist will know immediately that you are dealing with two very different birds.

Parrotlets

Parrotlets are small, feisty birds. The ways they differ from parakeets can actually be quite obvious, if you look. For example, by general rule, parrotlets have short tails – while parakeets (also called budgies) lave long ones. Second, they have larger beaks (compared to body size) and they are usually a lighter color than a budgie. They also do not have the stripes that budgies do along their feathers. Parrotlets have a very large appetite, sometimes eating as much as a cockatiel daily.

Parakeets

Parakeets are the quieter, more calm of the two parrots, but that isn’t all. They also have different colored ceres (nostrils) from parrotlets. Females usually have a slightly deeper pink than parrotlets, or a light gray, and the males have a bright blue cere. While the two are both ground foragers, they forage in two different places. Budgies, or parakeets, live in Australia, whereas parrotlets usually live in South America. Parakeets can also be kept in flocks; however, parrotlets are not great aviary birds and tend to fight with cagemates. Parakeets are also much more common as they have been bred for a much longer period of time. Also, they are cheaper – Parrotlets can cost hundreds of dollars, while parakeets can be found at pet stores costing around twenty five dollars.

While these parrots may be similar, hopefully you have picked up some tips on telling them apart. Remember, both of these species can be found at local pet stores, so if you are interested in a bird, they are worth considering.

Article contributed by: Eliza Kuklinski.

Sun Conures

Sun conures are a medium-sized parrot. They are green with a yellow head and breast. They look similar to Jenday Conures and the now extinct Carolina Parakeets. Sun conures are known for having moderate talking ability and being very good at tricks. They are very loud so they are not recommended for apartment-dwelling bird owners. However, they are not usually aggressive so they are good for a multi-bird household, and are actually generally bossed around by smaller birds! They can be kept in an aviary with other sun conures or other similar parrots. The loud shrieks they emit may bother neighbors, so make sure to tell them in advance you have outdoor parrots. You may want to invite your neighbor to meet the bird as the bright coloring and intelligence generally wins them over.

These parrots can still pack a powerful and painful bite, even though they are not known for nipping, so be careful as you would with any other bird. They will generally not bite, however, so they are good for families with slightly older children. Their cheery whistles even win over teens. If you are worried about biting, teach your bird to step onto a wooden dowel instead of your finger or hand. The birds are known for making bigger messes than small birds like parrotlets and budgies, so if you like things nice and tidy they may not be for you.

These birds can easily be occupied by a foraging toy or in-shell almond, but even so, remember to let them have at least an hour a day with you, their flockmate, otherwise they may begin screaming throughout the day for you. Sun conures are very intelligent birds and need stimulating activities so they do not get bored. You may want to get a very large cage and house them with other non-aggressive conures, lovebirds, or even cockatiels. Do not house them with other Aratinga conures besides other sun conures that are not the same sex, as they may mate and have a fertile egg which will hatch a hybridized baby. These contaminate the gene pool of the few captive birds we have and the baby may have health problems due to the odd genes. Even though they are very loud, do not cover the cage during the day in an effort to stop screaming. While it does work, it is cruel to the parrot. Even if they are loud, sun conures are great pets and are lovely birds.

Article contributed by: Eliza Kuklinski.

Birds Down Under 2010

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The captivating The Birdman’s Birds Down Under Bird Show, kicked off on 3 July 2010, and will be ending on 15 August 2010, so now is the time to get down to the Blank Park Zoo to ensure you do not miss out on this birding spectacular. The show, which is hosted by Joe Krathwohl (aka The Birdman), will introduce a variety of Australian birds to the public, such as parakeets, Kookaburra, wonga pigeons, diamond doves, silver gulls, eclectus parrots and much more.

For more information, visit the Blank Park Zoo website at http://www.blankparkzoo.com/index.cfm?nodeID=18240&audienceID=1.

Date: 9 August 2010
Venue: Blank Park Zoo
City: Des moines, Iowa
Country: United States

Mustached Parakeets

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When looking at the Mustached Parakeet, it is evident that belonging to the same family does not mean that you share the same characteristics. The Mustached Parakeet is related to the Ringneck Parakeet, and is often referred to as a Java Mustached Parakeet. These colorful little parrots make wonderful pets and their laid back attitude assist them in being great companions. Just as any other captive birds, Mustached Parakeets have certain dietary needs to ensure their health and welfare.

This fascinating bird has coined its name from the mustache-like markings that is found on its face and once the birds have reached maturity, the males’ beaks are orange in color, while the females are recognized by their black beaks. Growing to approximately thirty three centimeters and weighing on average a hundred and thirty grams, the Mustached Parakeet is a small parrot. They have predominantly green plumage, lighter coloring on their heads with a blue tinge and indentifying salmon to pink colored plumage on their chests.

Being extremely intelligent means that the Mustached Parakeet can get bored very easily, and therefore needs an assortment of chew toys and toys that can stimulate their thought process. Spacious cages are also recommended. When compared to the Ringneck Parakeet, the Mustached Parakeet is much calmer and can speak clearer than its counterpart. They are playful and social birds, but can test their boundaries if they have not been disciplined correctly. In the wild, these birds travel in flocks and can get very lonely if they are without a companion and do not get sufficient attention from their owners. In their natural habitat, these birds will feed on a variety of foods which include seeds, fruit and berries, and it is therefore recommended that owners seek advice from their veterinarian to ensure that the correct diet is followed.

Mustached Parakeets are very popular pets but many owners do not research their choice of pet or species and can be surprised by their natural call, which is quite vocal. Before any pet owner decides to purchase a parrot or any captive bird is it essential that they know what their care involves and how to ensure the health and welfare of these magnificent birds.

Green Parakeet (Aratinga holochlora)

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Native to Mexico, Central America and northern Nicaragua, the Green Parakeet (Aratinga holochlora) has also managed to establish itself somewhat in southeast Texas. As the Green Parakeet is generally considered to be non-migratory, it is unclear whether the self-sustaining population found in Texas is the result of breeding between feral released birds or whether they are the result of wild birds which have moved here from Mexico to take advantage of potential food supplies. Since feral populations of Green Parakeet have been found in other parts of the world, both explanations are quite plausible.

Generally speaking, the Green Parakeet is about 32 cm in length and bright green in color. Though the bird’s entire body is generally described as being ‘green’, one may find that the green on the upper parts is darker while the undersides have a yellowish-green coloring. It also has a long, pointed tail and has a fairly rapid wing-beat. The bird has a compact yellow beak which it uses to feed on seeds, nuts, berries and fruit. Unfortunately the Green Parakeet may sometimes choose to feed on corn and is therefore sometimes considered to be a crop pest. Wild parakeets are most often found in wooded habitats such as scrub, swampy forests, woodlands and forest clearings but they tend to stay away from tropical rainforests. In the cities they generally make use of palm groves and they may be found in flocks of up to 100 birds out of breeding season.

During breeding season the Green Parakeet will usually pair off and find a hole in a tree, crevice, termite mound or cliff face where it can nest. In urban areas they may also make use of holes in buildings. Here it may lay 3-4 eggs between January and April. After breeding season has ended, the birds will generally flock together again and will abandon their nests in favour of a large, communal roost. Unfortunately, populations of the Green Parakeet in the US and Mexico have dwindled somewhat due to the capture of wild birds for trade and the loss of habitat for agriculture. However, several protected areas have been established to ensure the continuance of the species, though more work must be done to prevent the bird from becoming a threatened species.

Birds of Eden – A Little Piece of Avian Heaven

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The lush Garden Route area along the coast of South Africa can readily be described as a piece of paradise. The world’s largest free flight bird sanctuary, Birds of Eden, is situated in the heart of this piece of paradise. A single birdcage spans two hectares of indigenous forest, including a gorge, and is home to more than 2,000 birds of 180 species from various continents. These include parrots, parakeets, toucans, hornbills, thrushes, conures, cranes, flamingoes, ibises, swans and many more.

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Indian Ringneck Parakeet

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The Indian Ringneck Parakeet has become a favorite choice as a pet, over the years. These birds were originally found in Asia and in Africa, and can still be seen in the forests of these countries. Today however, they are found almost everywhere in the world, and these magnificently intelligent birds have learned to adapt to new environments. It has been documented as far back as 200BC, that royals and the wealthy who built elaborate cages to house colorful birds and display their beauty, were already admiring the Indian Ringneck Parakeet. Captive breeding started in the 1920’s, which led to mutations in color and a variety of spectacular birds.

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