Tuesday, Sep 30, 2014

Blue-bellied Parrots aka Purple-bellied Parrots

Blue-bellied Parrot


Purple-bellied Parrot

The Purple-bellied Parrot (Triclaria malachitacea) is endemic to the coastal forest of southeastern Brazil from Rio Grande do Sul north to southern Bahia. Seasonal migrations have been observed.


Habitat and Status:

This species is now critically endangered due to habitat destruction by the cultivation of crops, such as tobacco and bananas. The purple-bellied parrots are now limited to an area which represents far less than 10% of their original range. They are rare to very rare throughout their natural habitat and can be only be found in localities. In fact, only 5,000 to 10,000 specimens are said to have survived in the wild and the numbers continue to dwindle.

They are now restricted mainly to some forest strips on the slopes and ridges - preferring altitudes between 1,600 ft (~500 m) to 3,300 ft (~1,000 m). Occasionally, these parrots can be seen in orchards, parks and gardens along the edges of towns.

They are sociable parrots that are usually seen in pairs or small family groups. At times larger gatherings can be observed in particularly favorable feeding areas, usually while foraging on trees. Their green plumage camouflages them well in the trees and they are mostly seen in flight. They are approachable when resting, sufficiently so that they can be caught without too much of an effort - which is to the species' detriment, although it is not the main reason for their current endangered status.

Their flight is swift and undulating; and they have an atypical melodic call for parrots. Bonded pairs can be heard singing in duet - especially during breeding season, which starts in July and may go on until October. They nest in hollow branches or tree cavities. Their eggs measure around 1.24 x 0.98 ins (31.6 x 24.9 mm).


Description:

The Purple-bellied Parrots average 11.2 inches (28 cm) in length.

Their general plumage is green - although the head, breast, abdomen and under tail-coverts are yellow cast. The chin and thighs have a faint bluish tinge. The lower breast and middle area of the abdomen are purple, as are the outermost primaries (= longest wing feathers). The remainder is green with a bluish tinge to the tips. The upperside of the middle tail-feathers and the outer tail feathers have faint bluish tips and a blue edging to the outer webs. The underside of the tail and the flight feathers are bluish-green.

These parrots have horn-colored bills and grey feet. They have a grey periophthalmic ring around their eyes and brown irises.

Hens look like males, but lack the purple patch to her breast and abdomen.

Young birds look like adults, but young males have much smaller purple patches that are restricted to the center of their abdomen. Some males (especially captive-bred birds) may not have any purple to their breast or abdomen. Their irises are dark.


Aviculture:

The purple-bellied parrots are available in aviculture, but in the United States they are rather expensive (between $4,500 and $5,000).

Only few successful breeding successes have been reported, even though it probably isn't a very difficult species to breed. This being said, newly imported specimen are known to be susceptible to diseases and can be difficult to acclimatize.  During this period, it is critical to protect them from temperatures below 75°F (24°C), and to provide a sanitary and stressful environment.  The diet should be of the highest quality possible; organic (pesticide-free) and nutritious to help strengthen their immune system.
 
Initially, they may refuse to eat. It is important to offer the food as high up as possible and to make sure that it is clearly visible to these parrots. (Please scroll down for more detailed information on a suitable diet.) Fortunately, these parrots are rather hardy and easy-to-care for once acclimatized.

The purple-bellied parrot is fairly quiet with a melodic voice that sounds similar to that of a thrush. These active and playful parrots do best in larger aviaries, where the get additional exercise while supplementing their diet by catching insects. Outside the breeding period, this placid parrot is compatible with other birds. Pairs should be isolated as the breeding season approaches, as the males of the species can get rather aggressive and territorial towards other birds in the enclosure.

The courtship display is rather distinctive. The male moves backwards along the perch with his head down, spread-out tail feathers and raised back feathers. He proceeds to sing to the female, while alternatively shaking his head and rubbing his bill along the perch. If the hen is interested, she will reiterate with a song and head-shaking.

A few days after mating – if all goes well - the keeper can expect a clutch of 3 to 5 eggs, which are then incubated for about 25 - 30 days. The young fledge 7 to 8 weeks after hatching. It is important to leave the young with the parents for some time after fledging to give them the best possible chance of survival.

Breeding Set-up:

It's best to provide a large aviary, including a heated shelter in colder climates and an outside flight that they can enjoy in the summer or year-round in warmer climates. It is important to make sure that these parrots are not exposed to temperatures below 68°F (20°C ). However, during the acclimatization period the minimum temperature should not be less than 75°F (24°C). They should always have a roosting box available to them.

Recommended dimensions for:

  • Aviary / Flight: 18 x 6 x 6 ft (6 x 2 x 2 m)
  • Roosting box: 10 x 10 x 24 ins (25 x 25 x 60 cm)

Diet / Feeding:

Their natural diet consists mainly of fruits (especially palm fruits, but also berries and citrus fruits), as well as nectar, nuts, buds and seeds foraged in trees. They also feed on insects and their larvae.

Captive birds should be provided a good quality seed mix, that includes safflower, oats, canary grass seed, various millets, some hemp and sunflower seeds. Millet sprays also make nutritious treats that are appreciated by most bird species. Sprouted or germinated seed offer superior nutrition that is especially important during the breeding season (spring / summer). Example of a superior, nutritious bird food mix -- if you are advantageous enough look at the ingredients and mix a batch yourself. The importance and nutritional value of sprouted or germinated seeds is well known and cannot be over-emphasized.

An equally important part of the diet are fresh (organic) fruits (berries, bananas, papayas, mangos), vegetables (corn, half-ripened maize, etc.), and green food.

Other items to be provided include fresh branches with buds, leaves and fresh sproutings; and lory formula. Caretakers often observe these parrots catching insects in larger aviaries - which is a great way for them to supplement their own diet with natural food / protein.


If you are considering one of these magnificent parrots as pets, please visit the following websites for information:


Taxonomy:

Genus: Scientific: Triclaria ... English: Purple-bellied Parrots ... Dutch: Parkietpapegaaien ... German: Blaubauchpapageien ... French: Perruche à ventre bleu

Species: Scientific: Triclaria malachitacea ... English: Purple-bellied Parrot, Blue-bellied Parrot ... Dutch: Paarsbuikparkiet, Blauwbuikparkiet ... German: Blaubauchsittich ... French: Perruche à ventre bleu, Perruche à ventre pourpre ... CITES II ... Endangered Species

Species Research by Sibylle Johnson

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