The Long-tailed Parakeet, (Psittacula longicauda), is also known as Malaccan Red-cheeked Parakeet, Malayan Red-cheeked Parakeet, Pink-cheeked Parakeet or Bayan Nuriis.
Please also see Ringneck Parrots.
Distribution / Range:
This parrot is native to the regions of Andaman islands, Nicobar islands, Sumatra, Borneo and Peninsular Malaysia (including Singapore), Indonesian island of Nias as well as Bangka and Anambas Islands.
They can be found in forests, swamps and mangrove areas, partly cleared areas and oil palm plantations. They are also seen visiting suburban gardens with tall vegetation.
These are restless birds that are constantly on move. They climb quickly around in branches, moving quickly from tree to tree. Though they are usually well camouflaged in the green foliage, but their continuous screeching cannot be missed. They tend to feed soon after sunrise and resume foraging in the later afternoons.
Much of their natural habitat has been destroyed and this parrot is frequently trapped for the cage-bird trade, resulting in a marked decline – but this species is still common in localized areas. In general, however, these parakeets are near-threatened and the survival of the various subspecies is unknown.
They usually form groups of up to 20 birds, although at times up to 800 parakeets can congregate, particularly at coastal roost sites. These parrots appear to be nomadic. They are conspicuous because of their continuous harsh, strident screeches given from treetops and in flight.
The Long-tailed Parakeet averages 16.5 inches (40 to 42 cm) in length. The wing length is about 142 – 155 mm and the tail is about 154 – 270 mm long.
Adult Male: The general plumage is green. The throat, breast and abdomen are greenish-yellow; and the lores (the regions between the eyes and bill on the side of a bird’s head) are bluish-black.
The crown is a darker green, and the sides to head and nape are rose-red. There is a black stripe to the cheeks. The upper back is yellowish washed bluish-grey. The lower back is pale blue.
The under wing-coverts are yellowish. The upper and under tail-coverts as well as the thighs are pale green. The middle tail-feathers are blue with pale tips and the outer feathers are green.
The upper beak is red and the lower beak is brownish-black. The irises are whitish-yellow, and the feet are grey.
Females have a green nape. The stripe to her cheeks is dark green, and the upper cheeks are dull orange-red. Her tail-feathers are much shorter, and the upper and lower mandible are brownish-black.
Young birds have a green head variably interspersed with orange-red. The tail feathers are shorter, and both the upper and lower beak are brown. Young males have a bluish tinge on the lower back and some young males may have a reddish tinge to the upper beak.
Immature birds attain their adult plumage when they are about 30 months old.
Lutino and other coloration, believed to be mutations, have been observed both in the wild and in captivity.
Breeding / Nesting:
The breeding season commences in February and goes on until about July. During the courtship display, the male bows before hen, making regurgitating and circular movements with head and touching bill of hen.
These parrots mostly nest in hollow branches or holes in dead trees and occasionally will nest in living trees. The nest is lined with pieces of bark and chewed wood. In the natural habitat, the average clutch consists of 2 to 3 eggs each measuring 30.6 x 24.7 mm.
This is a medium-noisy to noisy parakeet. It’s initially very shy and is slow to grow confiding with their care taker. These parakeets don’t bathe often, but will occasionally choose to perch in rain. They enjoy gnawing fresh twigs.
Captive breeding is rarely achieved. The main problems are the difficulty of matching compatible pairs up as these parakeets may not accept a mate that they themselves have not chosen and even if pairs are breeding, it is very difficult to keep the chicks alive.
Sudden mortalities without discernible cause have been reported – possibly resulting from stress. Some may refuse to eat.
Occasional aggression by hen towards the cock has been observed. Additionally, these delicate parrots are difficult to acclimatize.
Newly imported birds are susceptible to cold and wet conditions. During the acclimatization period, they should not be exposed to temperatures of less than 24°C and at no time below 10°C.
The average clutch size consists of 2 – 4 eggs laid at daily intervals and incubated for about 23 days. The young fledge 7 weeks after hatching and are independent 2 weeks later.
These parakeets need spacious aviaries and are rather active if they have space to move around. A planted outside flight of the following dimensions OR LARGER is recommended: 3 x 1 x 2 m with adjoining sheltered area (heated if necessary to maintain a comfortable temperature). It’s important to place the aviary in a quiet and sheltered location.
Provide a roosting box (22 x 22 x 60 cm) at all times.
Diet / Feeding:
Natural diet consists of fruits (Pandanus, Carica papaya, Dryobalan-ops sp.), seeds, flowers (Acacia) and leaf buds.
Insects and their larvae may also be part of their daily diet; whether these parrots actively seek them out is unknown, but they may be incidentally ingested while foraging on fruits and flowers. These parakeets are also considered a crop pest as they cause considerable damage to oil palm plantations in their natural range.
Captive Diet: An organic, good-quality dry food mix should be provided, that may include safflower and sunflower seeds, buckwheat, various millets, canary grass seed, oats and hemp; millet spray (also sprouted). A large portion of their diet should consists of a variety of fruit (apple, pear, fig, grapefruit); greenfood and vegetables (carrot, capsicum, cucumber). Sprouted seeds should be fed daily.
During the breeding season, eggfood, biscuit and sprouted seeds should be provided to the parents to help them raise the young.
Sprouted or germinated seeds are usually more easily accepted by “seed addicts” than fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Sprouted seeds are healthier as the sprouting changes and enhances the nutritional quality and value of seeds and grains. Sprouted seeds are lower in fat, as the process of sprouting utilizes the fat in the seed to start the growing process – thus reducing the fat stored in the seeds.
- Sprouted seeds will help balance your bird’s diet by adding a nutritious supply of high in vegetable proteins, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and chlorophyll.
- Soaked and germinated “oil” seeds, like niger and rape seeds, are rich in protein and carbohydrates; while “starch” seeds, such as canary and millets, are rich in carbohydrates, but lower in protein.
- It is an invaluable food at all times; however, it is especially important for breeding or molting birds. Sprouted seeds also serve as a great rearing and weaning food as the softened shell is easier to break by chicks and gets them used to the texture of seeds.
If you have access to the food items that are part of their natural diet (listed above), that may increase your chances of maintaining a healthy breeding flock.
Call / Vocalization:
This parrot emits rapidly repeated shrill cries during flight.
Pet Quality / Training and Behavioral Guidance:
As these parakeets are so rare, experts prefer any captive birds to be placed into a well-managed breeding program. If for some reason, an individual is unsuitable for breeding and you are considering it for your aviary or as pet, you may want to consider the following.
Ringneck parrots are less demanding than other parrot species, which makes them an excellent choice for someone who wants to “step up” from an easy-going and easy-care cockatiel or budgie.
Consistent training and behavioral guidance from a young age is recommended to ensure potential owners enjoy a bird free of destructive and annoying habits.
Species: Scientific: Psittacula longicauda longicauda … English: Long-tailed Parakeet … Dutch: Langstaartparkiet … German: Langschwanz Edelsittich … French: Perruche à longue queue | CITES II – Endangered Species
Distribution: Malay Peninsula south of Kedah, Singapore, Borneo, Sumatra, Nias Islands, Bangka Islands, Anambas Islands
Long-tailed Parakeet Sub Species
Andaman Long-tailed Parakeets:
Size: A little larger than the nominate form, averaging 44 cm (17.5 ins) in length, with a wing length of 166 – 182 mm (6.5 – 7 ins) and a tail length of 160 – 249 mm.
Adult Males: As nominate species, but the back of the head, nape and back are yellowish-green washed with greyish-mauve. The throat, breast and upper breast have a pale bluish tinge. The lower back is green.
Females and immature birds: Look like nominate type, but the cheeks are a duller red.
Distribution: Andaman Islands
Species: Scientific: Psittacula longicauda tytleri … English: Andaman Long-tailed Parakeet … Dutch: Andaman Langstaartparkiet … German: Andamanen Langschwanz Edelsittich … French: Perruche à longue queue de Tytler | CITES II – Endangered Species
Natuna Long-tailed Parakeets:
Size: At an average length of 42 cm (16.5 ins), the Natuna Long-tailed Parakeet is about the same size as the nominate species. The average wing length is a little longer at 148 – 165 mm. The tail measures 196 – 251 mm in length.
Adult male: As nominate species, but rose-red to the sides of head deeper with orange-red streaks. The crown is slightly more yellowish.
Female and immatures as nominate type, but the cheeks are a deeper red and the crown is more yellowish.
Species: Scientific: Psittacula longicauda defontainei … English: Natuna Long-tailed Parakeet … Dutch: Natuna Langstaartparkiet … German: Natuna Langschwanz Edelsittich … French: Perruche à longue queue du Fontaine | CITES II – Endangered Species
Distribution: Natuna and Riau Islands as well as islands of Bintan, Belitung and Karimata, Indonesia
Red-collared long-tailed Parakeet:
Size: They are much larger than the nominate species, but have a shorter tail. They average 48 cm (19 ins) in length; have a wing length of 192 – 208 mm (7.5 – 8 ins) – the tail is about 180 to 231 mm long.
Adult males: Plumage as nominate species featured above, but the crown has a reddish base and green edging to the end of feathers, turning pink on the back of the head and nape, thus causing the crown to appear more brownish than green in many birds. The black stripe to the lores (the regions between the eyes and bill on the side of a bird’s head) is more clearly defined continuing in some birds to form a narrow band to the forehead. The rose-red to the upper cheeks is deeper with an orange-red streaking.
Female and immatures look like the nominate form, but the crown and back of head are greenish-brown. The ear-coverts are edged with a narrow greenish-blue band; and the cheeks are a deeper red.
Distribution: Enggano Island, Indonesia
Species: Scientific: Psittacula longicauda modesta … English: Red-collared Long-tailed Parakeet … Dutch: Roodwang Langstaartparkiet … German: Rotwangen Langschwanz Edelsittich … French: Perruche à longue queue de Enggano | CITES II – Endangered Species
Nicobar Long-tailed Parakeets
Distribution: Nicobar Islands
Size: larger than the nominate species featured above, averaging 48 cm in length, with a wing length of 190 – 206 mm and tail length of 197 – 275 mm.
Adult Males: As nominate species – but the back of the head, nape and back are greenish-yellow and faintly washed with pale blue. The ear-coverts and cheeks are a deeper red. The lower back is green.
Hen and immatures as nominate type, but cheeks duller red.
Species: Scientific: Psittacula longicauda nicobarica … English: Nicobar Long-tailed Parakeet … Dutch: Nicobar Langstaartparkiet … German: Nicobaren Langschwanz Edelsittich … French: Perruche à longue queue de Nicobar | CITES II – Endangered Species