Plum-headed parakeet

   ›      ›   Plum-headed parakeet - Psittacula cyanocephala.

The plum-headed parakeet (Psittacula cyanocephala) belongs to the family of parakeets, Psittaculidae.

These species of parakeet are distributed in India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Quite often, it is mistaken for similar-looking blossom-headed parakeet (Psittacula roseata). The plum-headed parakeets are gregarious and noisy birds with a range of disturbingly harsh and loud calls. These birds are monotypic species.

Plum-headed parakeet - Overview

  • Scientific name: Psittacula cyanocephala
  • Species author: (Linnaeus, 1766)
  • Synonyms/Protonym: Psittacus cyanocephalus Linnaeus, 1766
  • Family: Psittaculidae › Psittaciformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Vernacular names: English: Plum-headed parakeet, Chinese: 紫头鹦鹉, French: Perruche à tête prune, German: Pflaumenkopfsittich, Spanish: Cotorra cabeciazul, Russian: Красноголовый кольчатый попугай, Japanese: コセイインコ, Tamil: Senthalai Kili
  • Other names: Plum headed Parakeet
  • Distribution: endemic to the Indian Subcontinent
  • Diet and feeding habits: fruits, nuts, seeds, green shoots, grains, cereals, berries
  • IUCN status listing: Least Concern (LC)
Psittacula cyanocephala is closely related to Psittacula roseata. Intermediate parakeet (Psittacula intermedia?) is thought to be a hybrid of Psittacula cyanocephala and Psittacula himalayana.

Appearance, physical description and identification

The plum-headed parakeet (Psittacula cyanocephala) is a medium sized parrot measuring about 30 to 35 cm in length and weighing 50 to 90 grams. The overall plumage is yellowish green and the upper side of the wings is green.

These parakeet species are sexually dimorphic. The male parakeet has a red head, shading to greyish plum on mid-crown and purple-blue on the back of the crown, nape and cheeks. The male has a narrow black neck collar and bluish green nape. There is a black chin stripe extending to lower mandible. There is a red shoulder patch. The female has bluish gray head and a diffuse pale yellow neck collar. Juveniles have green head and yellow mandibles.

The plum-headed parakeet has long, narrow, bluish tail with white tip. The upper mandible is yellowish orange and the lower mandible is blackish. The irises are black. The legs are pale gray. The plum-headed parakeet is distinguished from Psittacula roseata by the color of the shoulder patch and tail-tip. Psittacula roseata has maroon shoulder patch and yellow tail-tip. The plum-headed parakeet call is a very loud, shrill screeching sound.
Indian birds - Picture of Plum-headed parakeet - Psittacula cyanocephala
Birds of India - Image of Plum-headed parakeet pair - Psittacula cyanocephala
Birds of India - image of Plum-headed parakeet - Psittacula cyanocephala
Indian birds - Image of Plum-headed parakeet male - Psittacula cyanocephala
Indian birds - Image of Plum-headed parakeet female - Psittacula cyanocephala
Birds of India - Female Plum-headed parakeet - Psittacula cyanocephala

Origin, geographical range and distribution

The plum-headed parakeet is endemic to Indian Subcontinent and is distributed all over India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

The Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA) of these parakeet species in Nepal are Barandabhar forests and wetlands, Chitwan National Park, Dang Deukhuri foothill forests and west Rapti wetlands, Dharan forests, Farmlands in Lumbini area, Sukla Phanta Wildlife Reserve, Parsa Wildlife Reserve, Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve and Koshi Barrage and Ghodaghodi Lake.

Ecosystem and habitat

The plum-headed parakeet species are moderately forest dependant. They inhabit various ecosystems. They inhabit open woodland, parks, agricultural fields, subtropical and tropical forests, tropical moist lowlands and montane and submontane forests. They occur in elevations 0 to 1300 meters.

Diet and feeding habits

The diet of these parakeet species is mostly fruits, flowers, buds, nuts, seeds, grains, tender shoots, cereals and berries. They are mostly arboreal and sometimes feed on the ground.

Reproduction and breeding habits

The breeding season of these plum-headed parakeet species is from December to April. They nest in tree holes chiselled out by the pair, in tree trunks. The clutch usually has 4 to 6 white eggs. The female has greater role in incubation and in raising the hatchlings.

Migration and movement patterns

These parakeet species are mostly resident sedentary birds. Post breeding dispersal of juveniles takes place. They may make local movements for feeding and breeding.

Conservation status and concerns

The global population size of the plum-headed parakeet (Psittacula cyanocephala) has not been quantified. The overall population size is considered to be under slow decline. Trapping for pet trade, habitat degradation and reduced availability of feed are the main threats to the survival of these parakeet species. Their generation length is 7.6 years.

The plum-headed parakeet does not approach the thresholds for being Vulnerable either under the range size criterion or under the population trend criterion or under the population size criterion. The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated the plum-headed parakeet (Psittacula cyanocephala) and has listed it as of "Least Concern".

The CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) has included these parakeets in Appendix II.

Taxonomy and scientific classification of Psittacula cyanocephala
Species:P. cyanocephala
Binomial name:Psittacula cyanocephala
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern
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