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The Lineolated Parakeet

The Lineolated Parakeet is a beautiful and small parakeet that has become increasingly popular due to its wonderful characteristics of being both a quiet and steady pet. Over the past few months a number of our readers have asked if we have recently done any articles or have any books with regards to information on these popular parakeets, and unfortunately we didn’t, so we have decided to do an article about the Lineolated Parakeet. Lineolated Parakeets are known for their calm dispositions and peculiar postures. Unlike many birds, Lineolateds typically rest in a near horizontal position with their heads almost in line with their tails. They are generally very calm birds and typically mumble quietly, and their calls are not high-pitched or piercing to the ear.

The Lineolated Parakeet naturally occurs in the highland forests from southern Mexico to Panama, in the Andes from western Venezuela to southern Peru, the Santa Marta Mountains in Colombia and the Venezuelan Coastal Range. Its natural or wild colour consists of mostly green with multiple black and dark green stripes or bars, and it has a pale-horn coloured beak. Several colour mutations are available in aviculture, which we will discuss further in this article. The term “parakeet” is usually reserved for small or medium birds with long tails and although the Lineolateds are referred to as “parakeets”, they actually have short fan-like tails. The Lineolated Parakeet is a fairly small bird only reaching lengths of 16cm (slightly longer than a lovebird) and weighing around 42 to 52 grams. There are two subspecies of Lineolated Parakeet. The first is Bolborhynchus lineola lineola, which occurs from southern Mexico to western Panama. The second is Bolborhynchus lineola tigrinus, which is also called the Barred Parakeet. The Barred Parakeet is a darker green and has thicker black markings on its wings than the Lineolated Parakeet. The Barred parakeet occurs in northwest South America in northwest Venezuela and the Andes of Colombia and Peru.

Lineolated Parakeets have an unusual way of walking. They turn almost parallel to the perch and put one foot in front of the other. They are not big time flyers and prefer climbing up and down their cage using the cage bars, and spend time a lot of the time on the floor of the cage. What is also fascinating is how inquisitive these little birds are, and they will pick objects and food up with their feet and inspect it just like the big parrots do.

Diet
When it comes to feeding these little parakeets, are easy to cater for. A good seed/pelleted mix will serve well as a maintenance diet. Mixed seed can be made up of canary, millet, niger and buckwheat. To this seed mix you can add a small pelleted food, making the total mix around 60% seed and 40% pellets. Germinated seeds mixed with chopped apples and thawed frozen peas can also be fed daily. During the breeding season the germinated seed portions are increased and the dry seed is decreased. Along with this Avi-plus egg food or Avi-plus Parrot/Parakeet is given daily mixed with grated carrots, beetroot or sweet potatoes and greens like chopped spinach.

Breeding
Lineolated Parakeets are considered ideal for someone who is starting out with breeding birds, as their space requirements are not demanding and they are fairly easy to breed. Although they don’t go for very high prices compared to other aviary species, these birds will sell well to local pet stores as pets. It was once believed that Lineolated Parakeets were sexually dimorphic but this is not the case and they should be DNA sexed to make sure. These peaceful birds are fairly easy to breed and I have heard of them being bred in mixed aviaries containing finches, canaries, and neophema grass parakeets.

Other breeders have also had success breeding them in a colony environment. In the wild they tend to occur in small flocks of up to 20 individuals, although flocks of up to 100 have been seen. If considering this it is advisable to provide at least 3 boxes for every two pairs. These little birds do not seem particularly fussy about their nest boxes and will even breed in standard Budgie nests. Most breeders will use horizontal style nest boxes which are often used by Parrotlet breeders.

Breeding cages which are 40cm x 40cm x 100cm in size seem to be a comfortable size for a pair of this species. The nest box can be positioned on one end, on the outside of the cage which will allow for easy nest inspection. If you have more than one pair of birds it is recommended that you place them in a larger flight during the off season, and this will allow them to naturally select pairs when it comes to the next breeding season. It is often thought that with any species natural selection, if it can be allowed, will result in increased positive breeding results. However, this is often not the case, especially when it comes to breeding mutations.

A thin layer of shavings can be placed at the bottom of the nest box, and additional fibres such as coconut fibres or palm fibres can be used as additional nesting materials and can be placed in the cage for your birds to use. With these extra fibres they will create a dome or nest cavity where the eggs will be deposited.

These parakeets like their privacy and therefore nest inspections should be kept to a minimum. Nests can be checked for eggs once a week until the first egg or eggs have been seen, where after they can lay up to 4 -5 eggs. From then on further nest inspection is delayed until after the first eggs should have started hatching. The incubation period is around 18 – 21 days, depending on how soon incubation actually starts after the first egg is produced. Chicks will leave the nest at around 5 weeks after hatching.

There are several lovely colour mutations in the Lineolated Parakeets, which also make these parakeets an interesting aviary subject for bird breeders. These are dark green, cinnamon, lutino, creamino (cream albino), cobalt, turquoise (sky blue), mauve/slate. In this species, as with most species, the lutino and creamino mutations are sex-linked and the blues are recessive. The mauve or slate is a double dominant dark factor.

As Pets
The Lineolated Parakeet can make an ideal pet bird. Due to their small size, which is about the same size as a lovebird, they can easily be kept in a small home or apartment. They are also ideal as they have soft voices which they readily use to mimic human speech and whistle. They also seem to have far fewer tendencies to nip or bite than the average lovebird. When removed from their parents for hand feeding at 2-3 weeks of age, they grow into enchanting pets that seem to never be excessively noisy or loud and they can learn to speak readily with incredible clarity and whistle to a tune. Lineolated Parakeets can live for up to 10-15 years and they can breed up to 6 – 8 years.

Overall the Lineolated Parakeet is an excellent parakeet for a beginner as a pet and will allow someone to easily experience the joys of parrot keeping. With their ever increasing variety of colours they also make and interesting aviary subject for the aviculturists.

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