India, Central Asia
The Alexandrine parakeet is one of the larger Asian parrots, about 60 cms long, over half of which is tail! This bird also has distinctive maroon-coloured shoulder patches. Only the mature male bird has the distinctive pink colour around the back of its neck and a black stipe across the front of its neck. Very large, strong and destructive beak with deep red upper mandible.
There are 5 different sub-species of Alexandrine parakeet, which all vary slightly in colour.
Escaped and released captive birds have established feral hybrid populations in many cities around the world and can be considered the most northerly wild parrots, having adjusted to the colder climates of London and Amsterdam for example, where they can be seen in large flocks in the city parks.
India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Andaman Islands, Sri Lanka.
Habitat and ecology:
The species has naturalised itself in numerous European countries. Particularly in Germany, in the south of England, in Belgium, in Greece, in western Turkey and in the Netherlands.
Feeding and habits:
Alexandrine Parakeets are omnivorous, in other words they will eat almost anything, so can often be found on the ground eating insects as well as seeds and fruit. Diet consists mainly of a variety of wild and cultivated seeds, flowers and flower buds, nectar, grain, fruit and vegetables. Large flocks can have a serious impact on a field making them unpopular with farmers.
Alexandrine Parakeets live in a variety of habitats including jungles, woodland and cultivated areas, normally in small flocks but form bigger groups where food is abundant and at communal roosts where birds from a large area may gather in one large tree. When they sit in the trees they blend in very well and can be difficult to see.
A wild diet consists of fruit, nuts, seeds, berries and cereals. The latter often bringing them in to conflict with farmers who often see them as crop pests.
Status and conservation:
They are critically endangered in Pakistan, especially in Punjab province. This is mostly due to loss of habitat (cutting of old trees), and excessive poaching of wild chicks. Although their sale is officially banned in Pakistan, they can be found openly being sold in markets of Lahore and Rawalpindi. Trapping pressure to cater to the demands of the pet trade have caused a drastic decline in this species' wild population. It is illegal to trade in Alexandrine parakeets in India, yet these birds are sold in broad daylight in urban bird markets, suggesting that the Indian government is allocating insufficient resources towards the protection of this species.
Unfortunately, habitat destruction, pesticides and collection for the pet trade has diminished their presence in the wild and many countries such as Pakistan and India have now outlawed trapping these parrots although they will still be found on markets in many towns.
They are critically endangered in Pakistan, especially in Punjab province. This is mostly due to loss of habitat (cutting of old trees), and excessive poaching of wild chicks.
Where do Alexandrine parrots get their name from?
Around 350 years BC, Alexander the Great, a King of Ancient Greece went off travelling and conquering different parts of the world and returned to Europe with ‘souvenirs’. He ‘exported’ large numbers of this bird from Punjab in India to various European and Mediterranean countries that was named after him. Their ability to mimic made them popular in many European homes hundreds of years before Christ was born.
At the Jungle Zoo:
Meet Barry: Barry is a young female Alexandrine parakeet hatched here during Easter 2015 and hand reared here at the Jungle Zoo. (We didn’t know Barry was a girl!)