The Princess Parrot
The Princess Parrot is an Australian parrot with the scientific name of Polytelis alexandrae. That is because it was named in honour of Princess Alexandra of Denmark (1844-1925). Princess Alexandra married Edward, Prince of Wales and when he became King Edward VII of Great Britain on 22nd January, 1901, she became Queen.
This lovely bird is known by a variety of names, including Alexandra's Parrot, Princess of Wales Parakeet, Princess Alexandra's Parrot, Queen Alexandra Parakeet, Rose-throated Parrakeet and Spinifex Parrot.
I have seen them in the wild in the inland desert areas of South Australia, but I believe they are also found in Western Australia in both desert and mountain areas. They are nomadic and fly together in groups and can often be found - and heard - near waterholes and other sources of water.
Of course, there are both male and female Princess Parrots, but they are all called princesses! One of the first things noticeable about these parrots at a distance is their piercing calls. They make good, gentle pets and even seem to be affectionate, but their call when they are indoors and decide they require attention can be deafening.
The Princess Parrot is a medium sized type of parrot and so it is often referred to as a parakeet. The older spelling for parakeet is paroquet. Other Australian parakeets include the ever popular Budgerigar.
As Princess Parrots has been bred in captivity for over a century, several variations, especially in the colouring of their plumage, have evolved or been bred into them. There are also variations in the wild, but they are not so pronounced.
- Length: The male grows to about 46 cm (16 inches) long; the female is a little shorter.
- Weight: These birds are surprisingly light as the biggest males only weigh about 120 g (4 and a quarter ounces)!
- Plumage: In the wild, this bird's plumage is usually mostly green with a pink throat, bluish crown, bright green shoulders and a pretty blue rump, although there are blue and yellow mutations, too. The tail is quite long and thin. It is a little shorter in the female and she is not as brightly coloured as the male and her crown is a pale grey.
- Beak and Eyes: As you can see in the top and bottom photographs, the male's beak is a coral red and his eyes have orange irises; the female's beak is paler and her irises are brown.
- Food: In the wild, they are nomadic and feed mainly on spinifex and other seeds. They will fly in a flock and appear suddenly in an area, feed there for a while and then just as suddenly disappear.
They Make Wonderful Pets
Princess Parrots make wonderful pets and adapt well to living in an indoor cage and being allowed to fly free inside a home. They also enjoy the larger space of an outdoor aviary. Because of their long tails they need plenty of space when they perch.
As pets, they are delightful in their behavior and have real personalities of their own, even showing likes and dislikes for different members of the family or visitors.
- They can learn to mimic the human voice quite clearly if they are taught to speak from a young age, although this may take patience.
- They reach maturity at about a year old and live surprisingly long; some have been known to live from around 15 to 30 years.
- Like most other parrots, in the wild they nest in a hollow tree, preferring gumtrees (eucalypts) and wattles. Like many inland birds, in the wild, they mostly breed when it has rained and there is sufficient food available for the chicks. However, they breed well in captivity, especially if they are provided with a hollow log, but room needs to be provided for the long tail. They will come back to the same log to breed again, year after year, so it needs to be cleaned of mites and disease each year after use.
- They prefer to breed in groups, as they would in the wild, and they lay from four to six small white eggs.The babies hatch out in about nineteen days.
- In captivity, they enjoy eating parrot mix and love vegetables, such as corn, sprouted seeds, a variety of fruit, such as apples and pears, and in the breeding season they enjoy some insect treats, such as mealworms, and these provide extra nutrition for both the chicks and their parents.
Care Note: As their beaks continue grow, Princess Parrots need to be provided with small, hard twigs and branches to chew on. Do make sure that these are non-toxic.