Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Creature Feature: Rose-ringed Parakeet.

As Black Friday edges ever closer, be on the lookout for "robo-pets." These are cute, often remote-controlled amusements that will sate one's interest for a while, but generally get boring fast. They never quite have the thrill of a real animal; alas, moms generally will not buy their kids real tigers and cheetahs.

Wait a sec. That's a real bird?

Yep. He's a ringnecked, or rose-ringed, parakeet (Psittacula krameri). Specifically, he's most likely an Indian Ringneck Parakeet (P. krameri manillensis), the most common in the trade. These parrots are native to a small little ribbon in Africa and a much larger proportion of India, hence the name. There are several subspecies in this relatively wide range, which is only getting wider with time.

Unlike many common pet parrots, female and male rose-ringed parakeets are easy to tell apart: the male has a ring and the female doesn't. This is only visible in adult birds, however. Both make equally good pets, although it's usually said that male birds will talk more readily. For your convenience, they come in many colors, including blue, green, yellow (lutino) and albino. That said, please don't get one without doing your research; parrots are fairly high-maintenance as far as pets go.

Ringnecks are probably the oldest species of domesticated parrot. They go back to at least 200 B.C., when Indian religious leaders began keeping them for their ability to mimic human speech. The Greeks and Romans were also fond of the various ringnecks, meaning that keeping them goes back even farther in India. The ringnecks became even more popular in the 1920's, when birdkeepers started to breed them for the bright color palette seen above. Of course, the birds' intelligent, charming temperament helped in maintaining their popularity.

That said, this popularity has yielded an expected, yet still somehow surprising, result: Feral parrots. Everywhere. The U.S., Japan, South Africa (which isn't too far from home, really), Italy, and the war-torn Middle East all have thriving feral parrot populations. Even Australia has these guys. These birds are that hardy and adaptive to human "disturbances," plus they get so much yummy bird seed in those feeders. One wouldn't expect to see them in the U.K., but there ya go. India's revenge on the Brits is cute and feathery. No word on anything Hitchcock would write, though.

They still seem to be conspiring against us...

1 comment:

  1. I saw a whole flock of them just outside London one time!