Parakeets are one of the most cheerful and talkative creatures among the parrot species who love nothing more than forging a special bond with their owner, so it’s not hard to see why they are such a popular pet bird. A defining feature of parakeets – besides their gorgeously bright plumage – is their high intelligence level and excellent talking ability, which is something the beloved Alexandrine parakeet is particularly known for.
The Alexandrine parakeet is an exotic medium-sized parrot and the largest of the Asiatic parakeet species that are found throughout South Asia. An Alexandrine’s plumage is a beautiful bright green, giving them excellent camouflage in the wild. They also have red patches on the shoulders and neck and a yellow-green abdomen with yellow tips on the tail feathers. Bright in both color and personality, these birds are utterly devoted to their owners (and were once companions only to the elite).
Because of their deep devotion to owners, Alexandrine parakeets have gained a reputation as a ‘one-person’ bird, but this isn’t to say they are needy. Though they get great joy from interacting with their keeper, they are also highly independent and can keep themselves entertained for hours singing a happy tune or chewing on their toys! Alexandrine’s are fascinating creatures and have quite an interesting history. Read on to discover more about these beautiful birds, from what makes them tick to their origins with royalty.
They are the Largest Parakeet Species in the World
On average, the Alexandrine parakeet measures around 24 inches from head to tail, and they also have an impressive wingspan, averaging at 7.5 to 8.5 inches in total. Their long, tapered tail is longer than their own bodies too – extending to a foot or more in length from their body.
It’s for this reason that Alexandrine parakeets require quite a tall and generously sized cage to prevent the tips of their wings and tail feathers from becoming frayed and damaged.
They Were Named After Alexander the Great
The ancient ruler of Macedonia was such a fan of these magnificent parrots that the species came to be named after him. Alexander the Great was one of many ancient Romans who found these parrots fascinating and is credited with exporting various species of them from India to various European and Mediterranean countries.
The ancient Greek warrior loved to keep Alexandrine parakeets in his palace, as did many of the noblemen and women of his era.
They Can Adopt an Extensive Vocabulary
Alexandrines are highly intelligent birds, able to mimic commonly repeated words and phrases with great clarity. If these parrots are well socialized from an early age, they can easily begin to build an impressive vocabulary that extends beyond a few choice phrases (up to 20 words or more).
Most Alexandrine parakeets will begin talking at around 8 months and males tend to pick up a wider vocabulary, and talk with better clarity too.
Alexandrine Parakeets Go Through a “Teenage” Phase
Alexandrine parakeets are mostly affectionate, fun-loving birds, but between the ages of 4 and 12 months old, your pet parakeet will go through a stage known as “bluffing” (or adolescence).
During this time, Alexandrines and other Asiatic parakeets go through a whirlwind of hormonal changes which see them biting and showing aggression towards their owner – depending on how lucky you are, this bluffing period can last for up to 2 weeks or sometimes even 2 years!
One of the First Parrot Species to be Captured as Pets
Alexandrine parakeets are part of the Asiatic group of parakeet species that were found throughout southern parts of Asia, and they were one of the first ever parrot species to be captured for the pet trade.
In fact, a talking Plum-headed parakeet – a close relative of the Alexandrine – was first documented in 397 BC! Most of the Asiatic species of parakeet were sold to wealthy families throughout the ancient Roman empire (eventually finding their way to Alexander the Great).
Their Scientific Name Translates as ‘Noble Ancestry’
The scientific name given to the Alexandrine parakeet – ‘Psittacula Eupatria’ – has a few meanings, one of which translates to ‘noble ancestry’.
Eupatria derives from the Greek, with the ‘eu’ prefix translating as ‘noble’ or ‘good’ and the suffix ‘patrai’ translating into the greek word for ‘ancestry’ or ‘fatherland’. From this, their biological name can take on the meaning ‘noble fatherland’, ‘noble nation’ or ‘noble ancestry’.
They are Fairly Common Around the Globe
Quite unlike other exotic bird species, the Alexandrine parrot is fairly widespread and has become one of the most popular cage birds around the world.
Alexandrines are native to India and their natural range includes Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Cambodia and Bangladesh. But because many have escaped captivity in certain countries, ‘pest’ populations of the Alexandrine have also appeared in parts of the Middle East, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, and southern England.
Sex Can be Determined by Their Neck Rings
Alexandrine parakeets are a sexually dimorphic bird species, which essentially means that males and females exhibit different characteristics so that we can quite easily tell them apart. It is normally quite difficult to tell male and female parrot species apart, but Alexandrines give clues as to who’s who in their individual neck markings.
Adult male Alexandrine parakeets display a black and rose colored ring around their necks, whilst females have no ring or neck color band whatsoever.
Some Alexandrine Parakeets Lever Learn to Talk
The Alexandrine parakeet species may be well known for its clear talking ability, but some Alexandrines can grow up never learning to talk. They may pick up sounds and mimic certain noises around them, but if they have not begun to talk after the 1 year mark, then this is a probably a sign that they have not been well socialized enough as babies and are therefore unlikely to pick up many phrases from their owner.
They Can Live up to 30 Years
In good health, Alexandrine parakeets can live up to 30 years (and sometimes even longer), so prospective owners definitely need to be committed to their care!
Their warm and fun-loving temperament makes them wonderful pets to have and their desire for close bonding with their keeper can result in decades of companionship that you’ll always cherish. Ensure they eat the right foods and receive regular check-ups and you could have a lifelong friend in your Alexandrine.
Alexandrine Parakeets Have Some Color Mutations
Because Australia and other countries have placed strict import bans on certain parakeet species, some curious breeders in the industry have been creating hybrid color mutations of the Alexandrine parakeet by cross breeding them with a close relation, the Indian Ring neck parakeet.
This has led to some beautiful and sought-after color varieties of the Alexandrine, including a ‘Lutino’ (all yellow with red markings) and a ‘Blue Lutino’ (a mutation that comes in striking shades of cobalt blue and turquoise).
They are Able to Copy Almost Any Sound They Hear
As a highly intelligent species, Alexandrine parakeets are able to mimic most of the sounds they come across. This not only includes the sounds and intonations they pick up from their owners and any other human voices they come across, but they are also able to imitate unnatural sounds in their surroundings, such as a camera shutter, for instance. If they hear a sound repeated often enough, they’re likely to pick it up, and repeat it with impressive clarity too!
Females Sometimes Make Their Nests in Buildings
Female Alexandrine parakeets will typically choose tree hollows and palm trees to set up their nests, but occasionally, they may build their nests in the cracks of buildings, so if you live in an urban area in any of the many countries listed above, there’s a chance you could spot a brood of baby parakeets! The nooks and crannies of a high-rise building not only provide a secluded spot for incubation but also a safe hideaway from predators.
Alexandrines are Skilled Acrobats!
As well as possessing a great aptitude for speech and mimicking sounds, Alexandrine parakeets love to learn tricks in their cage and will love performing their acrobatic skills on their perches for anyone who will watch.
You can teach your bright Alexandrine to do many impressive party tricks from waving at you to dancing and even doing a somersault in your hand! With plenty of practice, repetition, and daily interaction with them, you can quickly unleash their inner gymnast.
They Love to Take Baths!
Potential owners of Alexandrine parakeets will be pleased to know that they will be raising a very cleanly bird, because they love to bathe and play in water. You can buy specialized bird baths for birds of an Alexandrines size, but sometimes, they will be content to splash about and bathe in a small bowl you already have at home! Let them bathe once a week, but take care not to irritate their skin or feathers when doing so.