By Robbie Harris
I am looking for lineolated parakeets, but I am having trouble locating any for sale. I would really like to get more information on these birds and to purchase some for breeding. Do they breed well, and do the babies make good pets? Are they noisy like grey-cheeked parakeets or conures? What about diet, nest boxes and cages for them?
Not a lot of people are breeding these birds. Some years back they were more readily available but, for some reason, bird breeders did not stock up on these birds for breeding — very much like the now disappearing grey-cheeked parakeets (Brotogeris pyrrhopterus) and others in that family. These Brotogeris were so readily available that most breeders did not bother to work with them in breeding programs and, now, youngsters are next to impossible to find. Lineolated parakeets (Bolborhynchus lineola) are only somewhat hard to find compared to some other species of birds like the Brotogeris. There are some people working with this wonderful little bird, including myself.
Breeding And Care
I absolutely adore the lineolated parakeet. They are very quiet little birds compared to all the other parrot-type species. They can be bred individually or in a group, in cages or flight aviaries. I cage-breed them, usually individual pairs per cage. However, I do have some set up in colonies. Both do fine but, once in awhile, pairs can break into fights, especially over nesting sites. They may be small, but they are tough little creatures. Once a mouse got into one of my cages that housed a single breeding pair of lineolated parakeets. The male tore the full-grown mouse to pieces, because the hen was on eggs. These birds can really hold their own when they want. Our pairs use simple wooden budgie nest boxes with shavings inside.
Their diet is like any other small parrot's — sunflower seed, safflower seed and a good budgie mix. They also love sprouts, fruits, vegetables and greens. I dust these with avian vitamins and calcium. I also feed fresh-picked green seed and grasses most of the year, which they also love to chew on and pick through.
They breed well, and they are usually good parents as long as they are provided with lots of fresh foods. Hand-fed chicks make great pets. Babies can be removed from the nest box as they are feathering and hand-fed. Babies that are being hand-fed are very chattery and noisy, but as soon as they are weaned, they quiet down.
It is best to sex these birds by DNA. It can be hard for someone who has not worked with them for a long time to determine a true pair. I do not take any chances and have all babies that are being held back for breeding DNA sexed. This way, I know for sure that they are true pairs. These birds can also go to nest before they are a full year old, so babies that are kept for breeding are set up with nest boxes within six months.
Lineolated parakeets are now being bred in the United States in other color variations like olives (dark green), blues and lutinos (yellows). I work with all these colors and find each one beautiful. Other colors will be a bit harder to find and will also cost more than the original emerald green coloring with black tiger striping. Sometimes, color-split birds can also be found for a pretty good price, and this will help you to generate new colors in your breeding pairs.
These birds make a great apartment pet, because their voice is not harsh like many other types of small parrots. Some can even learn to speak a few words, but keep in mind that they are not known for their talking ability. As pets, they are known for their love for their owner and sweet temperament. The tail isone of the most interesting aspects of this species of bird. They express their emotions with their tail by fanning it outward and spreading it open.
They also do a lot of climbing and creeping like a cat about their cages — climbing up sideways and upside-down. Sometimes, they hang motionless, looking around. I have seen many of these tiny jewels riding on their owner's shoulder during bird club meetings. They seem to enjoy all the attention and closeness, while staying right with their owners. As for finding these birds for sale, you will have to look in places like Bird Talk magazine's ads, because very few people work with these birds.
Confusion Over Canary WingsI have a few different canary-winged parakeets that I have gathered for breeding. It was hard to find these little birds, but I managed to acquire about a dozen. I have noticed that some are bright green, while others are a darker green in color. Also, all of them have yellow on their wings, but some have white coloring, too. Can I put these birds with the different coloring together for breeding?
Keep in mind, there are two types of canary-winged parakeets (Brotogeris versicolurus) — one with only yellow on the wing and a bright apple-coloring overall, and the other with mainly white with some yellow on the wing and a duller green coloring overall. These birds are subspecies of each other. Many of these birds being offered for sale are wild-caught (some from here on the mainland and others from Puerto Rico). These birds have flocked together and formed colonies, but they were not all of the same subspecies. So, what we are now finding are many hybrids that appear to have characteristics of both the canary wings (B. v. chiriri) and the white wings (B. v. versicolurus). If your birds are hybrids, then it won't really matter how you pair them up. But, if they are truly pure birds, it would be best to keep them pure (since these are getting harder to locate).
Pair the pure ones up with their own kind. Look in older books with photos to see the difference and pair them up that way. The true white-winged subspecies was more of a darker, dull olive-looking green color and had a very bare looking face (more skin showing around the beak with less feathering). The bare facial feature was most likely due to the natural environment and the food source they would feed on in the wild. As the two birds hybridized in the wild colonies, the bare face was the first thing to go. Now, you have a more brightly colored white wing with a well-feathered face. These birds will breed well, and the offspring make for great pets!
Robbie Harris has a Web site so people can easily get in touch with her. She will post things she learns that may be of some importance to others, such as hoax e-mails. Questions for her Bird Breeder column can be sent through her Web site: www.robbieharris.com . She will answer questions that seem to be the most frequently asked and those that will help many.
Robbie Harris raises a wide variety of exotic birds at her home in Southern California. She has written two books, Breeding Conures and Grey-Cheeked Parakeets and Other Brotogeris, and owns and raises a large variety of African parrots, including greys, Jardine's, Capes, Senegals, red bellies, brown heads and Meyer's. Harris has received seven U.S. First Breeding Awards for various types of psittacines.