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Our second guest breeder, also comes from North America. Mrs Karin Banerd is Canadian and has an impressive CV as a teacher and an author. She wrote the now famous article about Lineolated Parakeets published by the American magazine "Bird Talk" in January 2001.
We are very happy that Mrs Banerd accepted to write an original paper for our site and are sure you will fully enjoy it.
As a child I had a pet budgie and a pair of zebra finches. When I left home, I acquired a male canary. I first heard him sing when the vacuum was running. From there, I started breeding canaries and finches. Eventually, I became confident enough to try raising parrots. At the same time my eldest daughter was also asking to hand-feed a baby parrot.
I still have canaries and finches, though my focus is much more on breeding my Pionus (Bronze Wing and Blue-head), Cape Parrots, Lineolated Parakeets and Goldie's Lorikeets.
I love writing, particularly if it's about birds. I enjoy sharing my experiences through my magazine articles. Writing also gives me a chance to pass along the great information and assistance I have received from other bird breeders.
In my regular life I teach high school math and science and write for a textbook publisher.
Original text written for this site.
Please don't reproduce this text.
The first time I saw one of these birds was at the retail outlet of an importer and breeder near Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. Amidst the loud ruckus of many large parrots, and hundreds of finches, I spotted a small cage at the far end of one of the aisles, tucked amidst a few Sun Conures and a pair of Peach-fronted Conures. The tiny, plump green bird was trembling and appeared to be very intimidated by its surroundings. Immediately struck by its pitiful posture, I asked the owner of the establishment, what kind of bird it was. She informed that it was a Barred Parakeet, a very shy and skittish bird. I wanted to bring it home, but my experience had told me not to purchase on impulse, especially when I knew nothing about the species. I did not know that in a couple of years I would have three pairs of these tiny parrots.
Blue and Cobalt
Photo by Karin Banerd. Please don't reproduce or copy.
I had raised canaries and finches for a few years, and wanting a change, I thought it might be time to try breeding parrots. Unsure about the threat imposed by large beaks, I initially researched small parrots. I soon purchased two breeding pairs of Parrotlets, and a pet Lovebird that had been a trade for a singing canary. I found Parrotlets and Lovebirds to be too aggressive and shrill. As my research progressed, I discovered the Barred/Linoelated parakeet. I phoned a breeder in Southern Ontario who patiently answered all of my many questions. Most appealing was the fact that she felt the parrots could be housed outside of breeding season with canaries and finches in my large outdoor aviary. Having also learned caution, I continued to research these birds, and their availability. A parrot breeding acquaintance gave me the name of a woman he knew who had a few pairs. I bought one of her hand-fed chicks. Clover was his name. Eventually, I also purchased Kiwi, a hen, from another clutch. I decided that I wanted to breed them so we released our Lineolated pets into the outdoor aviary. They settled in easily and provided entertainment as they clambered around on the wire and hung upside down from the perches. Their pleasant vocalisations were only occasionally interspersed with shrill alarm or contact calls.
Once I had bought my own birds, I discovered that the shy scared Lineolated Parakeet I had seen at the importers was an exception. Most of the Lineolates I see now are very confident, calm and inquisitive parrots. Kiwi turned out to be a delightful companion who readily bonded to me. Once she was released to the outdoor aviary, she would still approach me when I entered the aviary, say "pretty bird" and snuggle into my neck.
Eventually, I also purchased a proven breeding pair, and two other pairs. My early try with colony breeding was not successful. Once I separated the pairs into individual breeding cages, they all settled down to breed. I set them up for breeding in November, after their outdoor time of April to October was done. By about Xmas, with 14 light hours, I usually have chicks hatching. Over the years, I have found one-year-old hens less reliable as feeders, than older hens. I don't set any pairs up who are younger than a year even though I have observed males exhibiting mating behaviour as young as six months.
Interestingly, these parrots mate in a side-to-side approach, with the male lifting his leg onto the hen's back, and angling his vent toward her. If she is receptive she angles her vent as well. If she isn't receptive, she scoots away quickly, sometimes protesting verbally. Even in the off-season, when the birds are flying outdoors and have no nest boxes, they will continue to mate. Pairs bond closely with each other, but can switch partners with little problem.
For the first time this year, I had a male try to brood eggs. His hen's first clutch of eggs were each broken after they were laid. I removed the remaining eggs as she laid them just in case I could foster them under another hen. This was a blue and cobalt pairing. I substituted a plastic egg for a few days hoping the hen would think all eggs were as unbreakable. Her second clutch of eggs I watched carefully and all eggs remained intact. By this time, the male was sporting a bare chest and abdomen, and many blue feathers, (more than normal), were turning up in the nest box. I realised that he had been trying to brood the eggs against the hen's fighting protest. The final confirmation of my suspicion was the few feathers missing from the back of his head. He certainly had plucked his own chest feathers to make a brood patch, but only she could have pulled out his head feathers. They successfully raised their chicks from this second clutch of eggs. Such a dedicated father is unusual with these parrots. Most males show varying degrees of protectiveness when the hen is brooding eggs and raising chicks. Usually they remain outside the nestbox and call a warning to the hen if danger is approaching. Some males vigorously attack any person entering the cage.
The chicks have an endearing sound, like a chorus of spring frogs and they pump their heads staccato-style when being fed. They pick up human noises and words very quickly, sometimes as young as 6 to 8 weeks.
Two Cobalt and one Blue, four weeks old.
Photos by Karin Banerd. Please don't reproduce or copy.
What I enjoy most about these birds is their confident and agreeable personalities. They co-habit easily with my finches, canaries and grass parakeets, no matter how tiny and delicate the finches are. They don't bully other birds, but they will stand their ground if pressured. The new colour mutations are particularly exciting, especially the blues and cobalts. I have recently paired up greens split for blue with blues in the hopes of producing stronger mutations of the blue. Thus far, the breeding results are poor, and I wonder if my pairs would have settled into raising chicks better if they had been allowed to socialise with the other Lineolates in the large aviary before I paired them up. I was told that it helps for pairing flexibility on the part of the birds if they are allowed to socialise with other Lineolates outside of the breeding season.
I find it very frustrating to still find neglected chicks either starving or buried in the nest box shavings. I have had limited success hand-feeding day old chicks, but I am hoping two chicks I am raising now, will survive. The brooder is kept at 85 to 90 degrees F, and I have been feeding every 3 hours and once during the night.
For adult Lineolates, I feed a cockatiel seed mixture with only safflower seeds, no sunflower. They are not fussy eaters, and will try out almost anything. They do love mistings, but not all of them recognise this natural behaviour. I also have another South American species, the Pionus, who as jungle inhabitants, also relish mistings, particularly with the vacuum going. I have read that the vacuum simulates heavy rainstorms or thundering water falls. Pionus and Lineolates usually love being wetted down with a spray bottle, and if they especially relish the shower, they will outstretch their wings, and hang upside down, oblivious to anything but drenching every feather. They do look ridiculous but not as much as when they try to sponge bathe in their wet vegetables. I watched their odd contortions for awhile before I figured out what they were doing. They refused their dish of water for bathing and instead preferred the wet vegetables. They took turns rolling against the vegetables and fluffing their feathers. Careful preening followed this odd behaviour.
It will be interesting to see how this species develops as a pet parrot. It has to deal with being mistaken for a kind of budgie, because of the "parakeet" part of its name. The general public has a hard time understanding that parakeets are just parrots with long tails, particularly when the Lineolated parakeet has a short tail. The most reasonable explanation for this misnaming would be that other parrots with long tails share the same genus. It is still not commonly seen in the pet trade, though this has improved in the past few years.
As breeders or pets, these parrots are charming, quiet and playful. They can be very entertaining and tend to breed easily without particularly strict requirements.
My youngest daughter, Mae, 8 years old (Jan 2002).
She is an excellent help in socialising the chicks. She wants to play with them all the time. She is very gentle with them.
Photo by Karin Banerd. Please don't reproduce or copy.
BIRD BREEDER, (Mission Viejo, California) :
"Canaries in the Classroom", Nov. 1994
"Canary Pox….", Feb. 1995
"Canary Courtship Behaviour", June 1995
"An Incorporated Aviary", Jan./Feb., 1997
"A Grand Beginning for the Canadian Chapter …American Singers", Oct. 1997
"Taking Stock-Making & Revising Bird Plans", January, 1999
"Little Charmers- Lineolated Parakeets", January 2001
EDUCATIONAL FORUM, (O.S.S.T.F.):
"Biology and Families", Spring, 1995
BIRD TALK, (Mission Viejo, California) :
"On-site Aviaries in Seniors Residences", February, 1999
"Little Charmers - Lineolated Parakeets", January, 2001
THE AVICULTURAL JOURNAL, (Canada):
"Friends of the Aviary" , September/October, 2000
PARROTS (IMAX Publishing, UK):
Lineolated Parakeets, June 2002
on-line at Birdtalk.com c/o Fancypubs.com
"The Lineolated Parakeet - a Real Charmer" on-line at lineolated-parakeet.bravepages.com March 2002.
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