Friday, Nov 21, 2014

Turquoise or Turquoisine Parrots (Pulchella)

 

Grass Parakeet Species Information ... Photo Gallery of Grasskeets ... Turquoisine Parakeet Color Mutations ... Common Diseases of the Grasskeets

Turquoisine parrot

 

Turquoisine ParrotThe Turquoise Grass Parakeet (Neophema pulchella) was previously common throughout eastern Australia. However, nowadays, they are mainly found in northeastern New South Wales and north-eastern Victoria.

 

Description

Turquoisines average 20 cm / 8 inches in length (from beak to tail).

Males:

The male Turquoise Parrot is a highly distinctive bird with bright green upperparts and a turquoise-blue crown and face. Its shoulders are turquoise-blue, grading to deep blue at the flight-feathers. It has a chestnut-red patch on the upper-wing. The upper-breast of the Turquoise Parrot has an orange tint, while the yellow abdomen may have an orange center.

Hens and Immature Birds:

These parakeets can be sexed in the nest, as males have the characteristic chestnut wing patch that can be seen as soon as they get their first feathers in (when they are about 10 days old).

Females and immature individuals are generally duller and paler and lack the chestnut wing patch. They have whitish lores (the regions between the eyes and bill on the side of a bird's head) and a green - rather than yellow - throat and breast. .

Color Variations:

Turquoisines can have red markings on their belly, which varies from bird to bird.

Male Turquoisine Parrot

Mutations:

The yellow mutation is the most popular, even more so than the original coloration. Other turquoisine mutations include opaline, full red-fronted and cinnamon.

These beautiful parakeets come in several striking color mutations. Please refer to this website for photos of color mutations.

Male Turquoisine Parrots

 

Similar Birds

May resemble the Scarlet-chested Parakeets, but males can be identified by the red / mauve markings on the wings.

 

The Turqoisine in Aviculture:

The Turquoisines share the same quiet, gentle, endearing, sociable personality of the other grass keets that I have kept in my aviaries over the years.

They share many physical features with the scarlet-chested parakeet, but have a somewhat different temperament. They are one of the most active grass parakeets, constantly moving around their flight from flying to running or foraging for food

These parakeets also mature slower than the other grasskeets. Although they can breed as one-year olds, they are better parents by the age of two years old. It is best to separate fledglings from their parents as soon as they eat on their own, as males may show aggression towards their sons.

Like all grasskeets, they enjoy a planted aviary. The male Turquoise Parakeets can be somewhat aggressive towards other males of this species. So it's best to provide each pair its own flight. This would be especially important during the breeding season, as you would be able to expect a lot of bickering and even fighting amongst the males. I have, however, housed them together with other species (smaller birds, of course), such as canaries and finches, without a problem. In fact, they did well with my canaries, finches (other than Green Finches), and rosy burkes.

In a mixed aviary, I found them to be very social and fun to watch. Because of their peaceful nature, they may be targeted by "bully" aviary occupants. Even the Green Finches (which are known to be more aggressive than other finches) would go after them. It is really important to keep that in mind when planning your aviary.

 

Call / Vocalization:

They are quiet birds. Their call is rather melodic and will not disturb even the most noise-sensitive neighbors. The call of the Turquoise Parrot in flight is a tinkling sound, while at other times it may emit a sharp “sit-sit” alarm call.

 

Health Considerations:

As they tend to spend a lot of time on the ground (thus the name: "grasskeet") they are known to be afflicted with parasites. Concrete floors in the aviary that can easily be hosed down and disinfected / treated (if necessary) with non-toxic maybe even edible potted plants for their enjoyment and for beautifying the aviary, and an aviary cover to keep bird droppings out of the aviary will help curtail this problem. Breeders are advised to treat for parasites periodically.

They will breed well in any parakeet-sized nesting box, usually twice a year (spring and autumn). An average clutch consists of 4 to 7 eggs. They may produce two, and under optimal conditions, even 3 clutches a year. Pease refer to this website for additional information on care and housing.

 

Related Resources:

 

Location and habitat

Distribution

The Turquoise Parrot’s range extends in Australia from southern Queensland through to northern Victoria, from the coastal plains to the western slopes of the Great Dividing Range.

Habitat and ecology

  • Lives on the edges of eucalypt woodland adjoining clearings, timbered ridges and creeks in farmland.
  • Usually seen in pairs or small, possibly family, groups and have also been reported in flocks of up to thirty individuals.
  • Prefers to feed in the shade of a tree and spends most of the day on the ground searching for the seeds or grasses and herbaceous plants, or browsing on vegetable matter.
  • Forages quietly and may be quite tolerant of disturbance. However, if flushed it will fly to a nearby tree and then return to the ground to browse as soon as the danger has passed.
  • Nests in tree hollows, logs or posts, from August to December. It lays four or five white, rounded eggs on a nest of decayed wood dust.

 

Threats

  • Clearing of grassy-woodland and open forest habitat.
  • Loss of hollow-bearing trees.
  • Degradation of habitat through heavy grazing, firewood collection and establishment of exotic pastures.
  • Predation by foxes and cats.
  • Illegal trapping of birds and collection of eggs which also often results in the destruction of hollows.

Added to and Adapted from Source: Department of Environment and Conservation (NSW) (Link removed as non-functioning)

 

Life Cycle

Under optimal circumstances, Turquoisine Grass Parakeets can live 15 years or longer.  However, most don't survive beyond 6 to 7 years in captivity.  Their short lifespans are mostly attributed to management issues, including infections (such as Chlamydiosis / Psittacosis) and the toxicity effects of worming agents.

They reach reproductive maturity when they are about 10 - 12 months old, but breeding success is most likely when they are about two years old and above.  (This will vary amongst birds.)

The adult plumage is starting to show after their first moult - when they are about 4 to 6 months old.  But the second plumage reveals the more intense colors of the male bird.

 

Taxonomy:

Genus: Scientific: Neophema ... English: Elegant Parrots ... Dutch: Elegante Parkieten ... German: Grassittiche ... French: Perruche neophema

Species: Scientific: Neophema pulchella ... English: Turquoise Parrot, Chestnut-shouldered Parrot ... Dutch: Turkooisparkiet, Turquoisineparkiet ... German: Schönsittich, Turquoisinsittich ... French: Perruche turquoisine

CITES II - Endangered Species

 

Species Research by Sibylle Johnson

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