Psittacula parakeets should be given a chance to burn off calories from seed treats and high-fat foods.
Courtesy Sherrie Kelsey
As long as your Psittacula parakeets are fed a well balanced diet — a good quality pellet and not too many high-fat, sugary foods — your birds will probably not develop a nutrition-related disease. Avian veterinarian Gregory Burkett, DVM, of North Carolina warned that if the birds are on seed-only diets or other unbalanced nutrition, “they are certainly prone to hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver disease) and lipomas (fatty tumors). They also are prone to bumblefoot if they are short on vitamin A and have bad perches.”
Psittacula parakeets can also develop atherosclerosis if they’re allowed to become overweight, added avian veterinarian Jeffrey Jenkins, DVM, of California. “This is more likely to happen if you’ve got a sedentary bird on an all-seed diet,” he said.
If you’re going to feed some of the seed treats and high-fat foods, make sure your Psittacula parakeets get a chance to exercise and burn off calories. “A lot of these birds are kept as aviary birds in flights, which is great for them because they can eat a higher calorie diet, because they have a big space where they can actually climb around or even fly a little,” Jenkins said.
For the pet bird, Jenkins said just taking him out of his cage and letting him fly around the room — supervised, of course — will help him use up excess calories. If your bird’s wing feathers are trimmed, put him on your hand and move him up and down so he can flap his wings. Just a couple minutes of exercise a day can go a long way in keeping your bird healthy.
Unusual Eating Habits?
Nutrition aside, some of the most interesting aspects of feeding Psittacula parakeets is just watching them eat. Gayle Peterson of New York gets a kick out of watching her moustached parakeet and Alexandrine parakeet feed each other. The two birds are kept in separate cages, but will spend a lot of “out time” on top of their cage. “If I give them a peanut or a chunk of fruit, they’ll walk over to the other’s cage and share what they’ve got,” Peterson related. “They’re not stingy at all with their food.”
Of course, what most people observe when they watch their Psittacula parakeets eat is just a big mess in the making. “My birds are really messy with the warm, people food I give them,” said Ohio breeder Kelly Robinson. “It ends up getting all over their faces, and sometimes on the walls, too. They literally dig in when they eat, and sometimes the food goes flying.”
Mandy Currie of Arkansas breeds Indian and African ringnecks and plum-headed parakeets. Her birds are water-dunkers. “They like to put foods like dehydrated apricots and papayas in the water dish,” she said. An hour or two after she’s fed them, she’ll go back to the aviary and check on them. More often than not, the orange-colored water will have papaya chunks floating in it. “It looks like somebody spiked their water dish with Hi-C,” Currie said, “which is why they require frequent water changes .”
Finally, sometimes it’s just interesting to see what foods your birds like and don’t like. Like many birds, Currie’s parakeets will pick out their favorites from the food dish first and save the “not so best” for last. They eventually do eat the least-favored foods, she added, because they only get a certain amount of food every day (what they can reasonably eat in a 24-hour period) — which includes “yummy food” and “not-so-yummy food.” But they don’t get any more of their favorite foods until the next day — or at least until the least favorite food is eaten up.
Allison Reid of Texas has an Alexandrine parakeet named Skittles. Her bird goes one step further than just showing preference for types of food. Skittles actually shows preference for certain colors of the same food. She is fed a base diet of ZuPreem Avian Maintenance “Fruit Blend” formulated pelleted diet, which has pellets of five different colors in the mix. The pellets are all of the same composition; the only difference is the coloring.
“Skittles likes all the pellets — except the dreaded purple ones,” Reid said with a chuckle. “She will pick out the orange ones first, then she’ll eat the yellow pellets, and when those are gone, she’ll eat the green ones. Finally, all that’ll be left in the dish are the red and purple pellets, and when she gets hungry enough, she’ll finally eat the red pellets. But I have never been able to get her to eat the purple pellets.”
There’s no question that Psittacula parakeets are fascinating, fun and very entertaining creatures. You might find yourself giggling one moment and confused the next when you observe their antics. Feeding them is just one part of the adventure — albeit a vital one — of living with a Psittacula parakeet!