Red-Breasted Parakeets and an escapee parakeet

posted in: Intraspecific, Parrots | 0

“An escapee parakeet that could either be a Blossom-Headed Parakeet (Psittacula roseata) or Plum-Headed Parakeet (P. cynocephala) was documented by Jason Cho at Pasir Ris carpark in October 2007. There is a high probability that the same individual was observed on 25th July 2010. The exotic escapee parakeet resembled the bird previously documented and was similarly seen near a carpark at Pasir Ris. It was in peaceful existence with a few Red-Breasted Parakeets.

“Initially, two inquisitive parakeet chicks were spotted peeping out from their nesting cavity that was located high in a branch of a tall albizia tree (Paraserianthes falcataria). The escapee parakeet arrived and landed on a tiny stem in front of the nest a short distance away (above). Within a short moment, an adult female Red-Breasted Parakeet arrived to land behind the nesting cavity before making its way to the front of the nest. The Red-Breasted must be the chicks’ mother. How about the escapee parakeet? Could it be the father? Could the chicks be offspring from cross breeding between the two closely related species?

“To confuse matters, another two adult Red-Breasted Parakeets joined them, making a total of three adult Red-Breasted and the lone escapee. Suddenly, wings were fluttering as the Red-Breasted switched positions while the escapee remained on its stem (above left). One of the birds flew to perch on top of the broken end of the branch which housed the nesting cavity. Seconds later, the escapee parakeet, which was peacefully perched until then, was dislodged by one of the Red-Breasted (above right). The escapee ended up perched on an almost vertical stem between two Red-Breasted Parakeets – one above and one below it. They remained in that position for more than 3 minutes without further provocation (below).

“The action ended with all the adult parakeets flying to the crown of an adjacent tree, probably to roost for the night. The parakeet chicks, which had by now disappeared into the cavity, were left all alone in the comfort of the nest.

“I was left wondering about the complex relationships between the escapee (Plum-Headed or Blossom-Headed) Parakeet and the Red-Breasted Parakeets. Unlike the noisy squawking sounds of the Red-Breasted, the escapee’s calls were of higher pitch and closer to whistling. Somehow, they must have learned to communicate with each other.

“Over the next two weekends, I returned to check on the nesting cavity but was unable to locate the birds. The nest seemed empty and both the chicks and the adult parakeets were nowhere to be seen. The chicks must have fledged.”

Kwong Wai Chong
11th August 2010

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