Parakeets Guide

Buying & equipment

Parakeets are sociable birds and their trusting nature is just one of the characteristics that makes them so popular. They enjoy being spoken to on a regular basis and have a playful attitude. Before bringing a parakeet home, however, there are a few important things that you need to bear in mind so that nothing stands in the way of a longstanding friendship. 

Checklist for initial equipment: 

  • A large birdcage with vertical bars for climbing
  • Perches of different sizes for foot exercises (at least thick enough that the bird's foot does not enclose the entire perch)
  • Untreated branches for climbing
  • Toys to keep your bird occupied
  • Water bath for daily bathing
  • Bird sand, such as SANDY with calcium carbonate and essential minerals
  • Food bowl or automatic feeder filled with main food, such as Australian
  • Water bottle with fresh drinking water or Vita Fit® Aqua drink
  • Mineral stone, e.g. Vita Fit® Mineral to provide added minerals and help care for your bird's beak
  • Kräcker® sticks to care for your bird's beak and provide variety 

The right spot for your birdcage 

Birds love to have company and a light, sheltered corner in a living room provides the ideal location for a birdcage. Placing the cage in an elevated spot allows your birds to observe what is happening around them. Large indoor or outdoor aviaries are also ideal. 

  • Birds are sensitive to draughts and direct sunlight, so be careful not to place your birdcage too close to a window. Domestic birds also cannot tolerate extreme variations in temperature.
  • Kitchens, in particular, can be hazardous places due to hot hobs, toxic detergents etc. 
  • Parakeets enjoy fresh air. In summer, you can set up an outdoor aviary in a shaded corner of your balcony or garden that is protected against wind.

Caring for your pet

The birdcage 

In addition to a suitable diet, parakeets also need the correct cage to ensure that they remain healthy and happy. As a rule, a birdcage can never be too big. In any case, it must provide sufficient room for your bird to fly, climb and jump around so that it can remain fit and healthy.
Parakeets also enjoy performing daring acrobatics on intricate untreated branches. This acrobatic nature means that you need to provide a range of different climbing activities in their spacious cage. Parakeets are also very keen on toys and particularly like swings, which often become their favourite places to hang out and relax.

Cleaning your birdcage 

You should replace the bird sand between once and twice each week, depending on the size of the cage, the number of birds and their size. The bottom of the cage will also need rinsing out with hot water once each week. While doing this, you should wipe down the perches and toys using a brush or damp cloth and thoroughly clean the food and water bowls using hot water.
The cage also needs a thorough clean once every month: This involves rinsing the cage itself with hot water. However, you must never use strong household detergents!

Preening 

Parakeets preen their plumage thoroughly several times each day. They also enjoy taking an occasional bath. They do not usually require any human assistance with this.

Beak care 

Your parakeet should always have access to a beak stone and strong, untreated branch. They need to grind their beaks against a stone to keep them healthy. The Vita Fit® Mineral beak stone is ideal for this and also provides vital minerals, trace elements and natural calcium carbonate. 

Claw care 

If you place sufficiently wide, untreated branches in your parakeet's cage, it will wear down its claws naturally. However, if its claws become too long, they will need clipping from time to time. Your pet shop, breeder or vet will be happy to show you how to do this properly.

Moulting 

Parakeets need particularly high levels of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients when moulting. Moulting aid for parakeets and parrots and tasty Kräcker® sticks – designed specially for moulting – provide your bird with the additional nutrients it needs at this time.

Diet

The perfect diet 

The term "parakeet" is usually applied to smaller parrot species with long tails that primarily originate from the tropical and subtropical regions of Australia and South America. The staple diet of most species of parakeet primarily comprises seeds and grains. However, they also enjoy eating other plant material, such as fruits, vegetables and fresh greenery in the form of grasses and herbs. The living conditions and, in particular, the range of food available differ greatly from region to region and different birds have evolved to survive on the foods available in their native habitats. Wherever they live, however, all parakeets tend to have an extremely varied diet.
Vitakraft's diverse range of food products has been designed to cater for the specific dietary needs of parakeets: high-grade, sun-ripened seeds, supplemented with vital nutrients and other beneficial ingredients to provide an optimal, species-appropriate diet and ensure a long and healthy life.

Food types

Main food:
A main food such as Premium Menu will meet your parakeet's basic nutritional requirements

Kräcker®: 
Tasty Kräcker® sticks have a number of functions in one: Birds have to work for their food like in the wild. This helps prevent boredom and is a natural way to occupy your parakeet. Picking at the nibble stick also helps keep your parakeet's beak healthy

Natural Snacks: 
VITA NATURE®. Tasty treats that cater to the birds' natural instincts, e.g. picking seeds from natural millet spikes

Treats: 
Snacks, such as Bisquiti® provide variety, serve as a reward and help to tame your pet and create a bond

Nutritional supplements: 
Pet food supplements, such as Vita Fit® Mineral or Vita Fit® Multivitamin, strengthen your bird and promote well-being. They help meet the specific nutritional needs that can arise during certain stages of life, e.g. during periods of growth, after illness or when laying eggs. They may also be beneficial for particularly active animals.

Feeding tips 

  • Remove the empty grain casings from the food bowl or dispenser on a daily basis and top up with new food 
  • Kräcker® sticks should be placed in your parakeet's cage to nibble and peck on. This is a natural way to keep your bird occupied and exercises its beak
  • Provide a varied diet 
  • Provide fresh drinking water every day
  • Provide fresh fruit and juicy greens

Behaviour & familiarisation

Behaviour 

Parakeets are some of the most intelligent and highly developed birds. The more attention you pay them, the more trusting they become. If you take the time to understand your parakeet's needs and cater to them accordingly, you will soon strike up a close friendship.

A new member of your family

During the first few days, parakeets need little bit of peace while they settle into their new surroundings. To disturb it as little as possible, you should ensure that the birdcage is set up properly in advance. Once your parakeet has moved in, you can remain nearby and speak to your pet in a soft voice. However, it is best to leave the parakeet alone for at least a day. 
By observing your pet's actions, you will easily be able to tell if it feels at home. A settled parakeet will start nibbling on a few grains from its bowl or give its feathers a good preen.
Parakeets are social animals that should be kept together with others of their kind. However, birds that are not familiar with each other will still need a little time to become friends. You should keep a close eye on them during this period.

How to tame your parakeet

Your new pet will have settled in somewhat after about a week. Now is a good time to start familiarising it with the human hand. This is best done using a treat, such as a Kräcker® stick: Gently hold out the stick in the cage and speak to the parakeet with an encouraging tone of voice. It will usually approach your hand after a short period of time and start nibbling on the treat. By repeating this action on a regular basis, your bird will start to associate your hand with positive things like treats. 

Training

Some parakeet species imitate the noises from their surroundings and their partners. Although this natural behaviour is particularly prominent in larger parrots, parakeets can also learn to speak very well.
If you want to teach a parakeet certain words or short sentences, you should repeat the name or phrase on a daily basis. Parakeets are particularly attentive and receptive in the late afternoon and will often become "chatty" of their own accord at this time. A parakeet that is paying attention will cock its head to one side and appear to be listening with interest. It usually takes a long time until a parakeet says its first word, and it will often do so when you least expect it!
The same applies for learning songs or repetitive ambient sounds. Cockatiels in particular have a natural gift for picking up on such sounds and will often integrate them into their own songs.

Portraits

Eastern Rosella

Alternative Title

Apart from the nominate form, there are two recognised subspecies of the Eastern Rosella; the Golden Mantle (Platycercus eximius cecilae) and the Tasmanian race (Platycercus eximius diemenesis). The name Rosella relates to the location where Europeans first observed this colourful bird.

Scientific Title

Platycercus eximius

Appearance

Standing at around 30 cm tall, the Eastern Rosella is particularly striking due to its brightly coloured plumage, with a red face and chest, bright yellow on the lower breast, as well as a number of green, blue and black feathers. Other colour mutations, such as white-winged, pastel and lutinos, have also been bred. Sexing is quite difficult although the plumage of the males tends to be somewhat brighter than that of the female. The colours of the female, which is also slightly smaller than the male, appear duller.

Origin

South-eastern Australia. The Eastern Rosella is found in open savannahs with sparse tree cover and lightly wooded country. 

Behavior

Rosellas are lively, social birds that are best kept in opposite-sex pairs. Males are known to become aggressive with one another, and can also show aggressive behaviour with other species, so keeping in a mixed aviary is not recommended. Rosellas are very active and are best housed in large aviaries that enable them to fly freely. They have a pleasant, melodious voice, but can sometimes become noisy, especially if startled.

Special features

As mentioned above, Rosellas do not mix well with other birds. They can also be choosy when selecting a partner. Introductions should therefore be taken slowly to allow a pair to get to know one another.

Crimson Rosella

Alternative Title

Also known as the Pennant's parakeet. There are a number of sub-species of this parrot, including the Green Rosella, (also known as the Tasmanian Rosella) and the Northern Rosella. Like the variants bred in captivity, these sub-species differ in colour, but not in the manner in which they feed or are kept.

Scientific Title

Platycercus elegans

Appearance

The Crimson Rosella is a medium-sized parrot at 36 cm long. It has a particularly striking, predominantly crimson plumage with blue cheeks and black-scalloped blue-margined wings and a predominantly blue tail with red colouration on the tail and wings. In addition to the wild colour variations, a number of different varieties have also been created in aviculture, of which the Blue Crimson Rosella is arguably the most popular. To an untrained eye, the sexes are virtually indistinguishable, although the females tend to be somewhat smaller than the males.

Origin

Southern and eastern Australia. In the wild, they generally live in open woodland.

Behavior

Crimson Rosellas are lively, social birds that enjoy foraging on the ground. In the wild, Crimson Rosellas tend to congregate in pairs or small groups and feeding parties. During the breeding season, however, adult birds will not congregate in groups and will only forage with their mate. Adult males can also become quite aggressive with each other, particularly around breeding time. They are therefore best kept as opposite-sex pairs, especially as they can also show aggressive behaviour with other species. Provided you have a sufficiently large aviary, however, it is possible for them to be kept with a few other, closely related species that will not been seen as competition.

Cockatiel

Scientific Title

Nymphicus hollandicus

Appearance

An adult, wild cockatiel is grey with a yellow face, a bright orange patch on each cheek and prominent white flashes on the outer edges of each wing. The males are quite easy to distinguish from the females through the brighter yellow and orange colours on their faces. On the female, the facial colours are duller in general, with much more grey on both the face and crest. The females also display horizontal yellow stripes or bars on the ventral surface of their tail feathers. These differences remain discernible in many of the colour mutations established in aviculture. Do note, however, that all chicks and juveniles are phenotypically female, meaning that they are virtually indistinguishable from one another.

Origin

The Cockatiel, also known as the Quarrion and the Weiro, is a species of parrot native to the outback regions of inland Australia, and tends to favour the Australian wetlands, scrublands and bush. Cockatiels tend to be somewhat nomadic. This means that they can travel long distances in large flocks to find areas which make good feeding sites and areas that have suitable nesting holes.

Behavior

If given plenty of one-on-one attention, cockatiels can become very tame and develop a strong bond with their owner. Although curious, they tend to be wary about new things. Cockatiels are very active birds and love to fly around. They are also excellent climbers. They also are social birds, living in pairs or flocks in the wild, depending on the season. It is therefore recommended that domestic cockatiels are not kept alone. Like many parrots and parakeets, they have a talent for mimicking sounds, although they are not as skilled at imitating human speech. They are more likely to learn and whistle along to tuneful melodies. Cockatiels can sometimes be quite noisy, although the noise is usually infrequent and short lived, and is melodious and entertaining rather than raucous.