The Elegant Parrots, Elegant Grass Parakeets or Elegant Neophemas (Neophema elegans) are endemic to South-western and South-eastern Australia as well as Kangaroo Island where they prefer the open country. Their numbers are stable in their natural habitat and they are common in captivity.
The Elegant parrot is a member of the genus Neophema -- also commonly referred to as Grass Parrots. These include Blue-winged parrot, Rock parrot, Scarlet-chested parrot, Turquoise parrot and the Orange bellied parrot.
Their expected lifespan is 10 or more years.
The Elegant Parrots are good beginners' birds, as they are easy to care for and breed well.
The adult plumage is attained when they are 4 to 6 months old. Young birds reach maturity at about 8 to 12 months. They will start breeding in the second year.
They do best in planted aviaries. They should have plenty of room to fly and be protected from rats, mice, snakes, and other critter which might get to them or their eggs. You also have to provide them with adequate shelter and protection from wind, rain and cold weather. They are not as hardy as most of the other parrot species.
They will accept just about any nest box that you may provide. Parakeet-sized boxes placed high up in the aviary are usually favorites. They will also accept cockatiel / lovebird-sized nest boxes. It's best to provide more nesting boxes than there are pairs -- to allow them to choose their favorite box and to reduce any fighting over favorites.
Soil floor may not be a good choice. Predators can dig themselves through that; and grasskeets are known to spend a good part of the day on the floor of the aviary. Grasskeets are often afflicted with parasites for this reason alone.
It is best to keep one pair per aviary - they should not be housed with other Grasskeets as they will hybridize. However, these peaceful birds can be housed with Bourke's or Burke's Parrots, finches, canaries, doves and quails. I even kept cockatiels in the same aviary without any problems - as long as the inhabitants are non-aggressive.
The Elegant parrot is a suitable bird for those with smaller aviaries and are generally not destructive to the timber of aviary frames. They will chew on plants within the aviary.
Please note that young birds are likely to be clumsy initially and may crash into wire walls The strategic placement of leafy branches close to the wire inside the flight should minimize the risk of injury of a young bird.
Recommended aviary dimensions:
- Length: minimum: 7 feet (2 meters) -- ideal: 10 feet ( 3 meters)
- Width: 3 feet (900 mm)
- Height: 7 feet (2 meters)
Birds housed in a cage or suspended cage during the breeding season should be allowed access to an aviary during the non-breeding season for adequate exercise and to regain a good level of fitness.
Non-toxic leafy branches can be placed in the aviary for the birds to chew up. This will entertain the birds, help minimize boredom and give the birds some beak exercise. Natural branches of various diameters, and placed at various angles, can be used for perches. These natural perches may be chewed by the birds and may need to be replaced regularly. The birds may chew any flowers and fruiting bodies on the branches.
A hen produces 2 to 3 clutches a year with 4 to 5 eggs in each clutch. Both parents share the incubation of the eggs, which takes about 18 days. The young fledge 3 to 4 weeks later.
These parakeets average 8.6-8.75 inches (22 cm) in length and weigh between 1.4 - 1.8 oz (40- 51g).
The plumage is mostly olive-yellow. There is a deep blue frontal band, bordered above by paler blue thin line going above and behind the eye. They have a yellow face and throat; an olive-yellow breast; yellow lower underparts and underside of tail, sometimes washed with orange on center of abdomen. The outer median wing-coverts are light blue. The inner lesser and median wing-coverts are yellow-olive. The bill is grey-black and the eyes dark brown.
Generally duller than male; orange usually absent on abdomen.
Look like adults, but the frontal band is minimal or absent. They have pale olive outer wing coverts, faintly margined with pale blue. In some females the pale colored underwing band is obvious, but generally minimal in both sexes. Bill yellow/brown.
Several mutations have occurred in captivity. Birds bred to produce specific color mutations need to be housed as one pair of Elegant parrots per aviary.
Diet / Feeding:
In their natural habitat, these parakeets eat grass seeds and herbaceous plants, as well as seasonally available fruits, blossoms, fruit and flower buds, and various plant and vegetable matter. Insects (and their larvae) may also form part of their diet.
Captive Elegant parrots should be fed a quality "small parrot mix" or "budgie seed mix". A varied diet should be offered that includes grass seeds, leafy green vegetables such as silverbeet, spinach or endive, as well as fruits, to include apples, pears and oranges. Sprouted or soaked seed can be offered.
Some birds will consume insects such as mealworms, especially if they have young in the nest. The mealworm larvae, pupa and beetle can be offered. The insects provide a good source of easily digested protein. Neophemas housed with finches, softbills or other insect eating birds will often copy the other birds in the aviary and eat insects.
Call / Vocalization:
Generally quiet birds. Voice mostly in the evening and morning.
During flights a sharp whistling note may be heart. While feeding, one may hear a soft twittering.
Genus: Scientific: Neophema ... English: Elegant Parrots ... Dutch: Elegante Parkieten ... German: Grassittiche ... French: Perruche neophema
Species: Scientific: Neophema elegans ... English: Elegant Parrot, Elegant Grass Parakeet ... Dutch: Prachtparkiet, Elegantparkiet ... German: Schmucksittich, Elegantsittich ... French: Perruche élégante ... CITES II - Endangered Species
Species Research by Sibylle Johnson
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