Red-breasted parakeet family at Pasir Ris Park, Singapore

Red-breasted parakeets, Psittacula alexandri, have been feral in Singapore since 1943.  They originate from Northern Peninsula of Malaya and have been recorded to be nesting successfully since the 1980s. Parakeets are zygodactylous, that is, they have 2 toes pointing forward and 2 toes pointing backwards. Francis Lim wrote an article about where they like to roost https://besgroup.org/2018/05/27/roosting-red-breasted-parakeets/ . They typically lay 3-4 eggs and incubate the eggs for 28 days. The chicks or parrotlets, fledge after ~ 50 days. Read YC Wee’s article https://besgroup.org/2007/04/21/nesting-of-red-breasted-parakeet/ about their nesting.

They feed on nectar and blossoms (Bombax, Parkia speciosa and Erythrina variegata) , seeds of albizia, African tulip and tamarind. Fruits of various figs and rambutans have also been noted in their diets.

The parrots nest in tree holes and one such pair incited a lot of interest and excitement in early February 2022.  The male and female parents work cooperatively to look after the parrotlets. They were documented to feed their chicks with crop milk.

Read https://besgroup.org/2014/10/01/red-breasted-parakeet-and-crop-milk/ by Lee Chiu San.

Large numbers of photographers staked out the park with their high performance cameras.  Below is a gallery to showcase some of their snapshots, captured through much knowledge of the birds, patience and opportunity.  Although nature documentation should be free of anthropomorphic interpretations, the cuteness overload was just overwhelming.

Photo 1. Lovely pair of parrotlets. Sangmen Wong 12 February 2022.
Photo 2. A parrotlet leaning out of the nest hole, curious about the surroundings outside its nest. William Khaw. 12 February 2022.
Photo 3. Parrotlet looking out of its nest. Andy Chew. 12 February 2022.
Photo 4. The second parrotlet’s turn to look outside its nest. Andy Chew. 12 February 2022.
Photo 5. The parrotlets now extending their upper bodies out of the nest together. Anthony Ang. 10 February 2022.
Photo 6. Competing to look outside the nest. Ash Foo. 11 February 2022.
Photo 7. Parrotlets begging for food. Alex Han. 9 February 2022.
Photo 8. Parrotlets vying for crop milk. Alex Han. 9 February 2022.
Photo 9. Parent returned to nest to feed chicks. Andy Chew. 11 February 2022.
Photo 10. Parent bird at nest entrance, chicks waiting expectantly to be fed. Aung Moe Hin. 8 February 2022.
Photo 11. Chick begging for food. Desmond Yap. 12 February 2022.
Photo 12. Family activities. Low Frankie. 11 February 2022.
Photo 13. Both parents feeding the hungry chicks. William Khaw. 11 February 2022.
Photo 14. Hungry chicks getting their fill. Michael Kwee. 10 February 2022.
Photo 15. Family portrait taken at nest entrance. William Khaw. 11 February 2022.
Photo 16. Both chicks scrambling to receive food from parent. Ivan Khor. 12 February 2022.
Photo 17. A chick scrambling to take its first flight. Lee Chin Pong. 12 February 2022.
Photo 18. The brave chick leaps off the entrance with its wings spread out for action. Samantha Wong. 12 February 2022.
Photo 19. The fledging chick flaps its wings rigorously. Billy Goh. 12 February 2022.
Photo 20. The fledgling lifts off successfully. Ivan Khor. 12 February 2022. 1.15 pm
Photo 21. The fledgling on its maiden flight. Alex Han. 12 February 2022.
Photo 22. The fledgling is using its flight and tail feathers in its maiden flight. Alex Han. 12 February 2022.
Photo 23. Andy Chew noticed the second parrotlet looking out of the nest. The parent birds called to the little one and then flew to the nest to feed this unfledged chick. Notice the rain- drenched parent bird on top of picture. 14 February 2022.
Photo 24. The parents flew off after feeding the parrotlet and the little one followed them. Andy Chew. 14 February 2022.
Photo 25. The second parrotlet fledged two days after its older sibling. It is finally entering its next stage of life. Andy Chew. 14 February 2022.

The photographers who had journeyed with this parrot family cheered and applaused this second chick when it took the leap to new freedom and frontiers.  Having followed their growth and development, everyone wishes these two little ones grow up and keep the circle of life turning.

This post is a cooperative effort between Birds, Insects N Creatures Of Asia and BESG to bring the study of birds and their behaviour through photography and videography to a wider audience.

Article by Teo Lee Wei.

References:

  1. Biodiversity of Singapore: An encyclopedia of the Natural Environment and Sustainable Development © 2011 Edited by: Peter KL Ng, Richard T. Corlett and Hugh T. W. Tan
  2. Handbook of the Birds of the World © 1996 vol. 4
  3. The Birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsula by David R Wells Vol. One Non-passerines © 1999

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