Also popular as the Malabar parakeet (Psittacula columboides), the blue-winged parakeet is a South Indian bird commonly found in the Nilgiri and Palni Hills of the Western Ghats. In the Eastern Ghats, the species can be located in the range of Biligirirangan, while it can also be spotted further eastwards in Kolli Hills. Native to Sri Lanka, Layard's parakeet is its closest relative. These birds are primarily arboreal, but they also forage on the ground surface for food.
The blue-winged parakeet is not to be confused with the Tasmanian blue-winged grass parakeet or blue-winged parrot (Neophema chrysostoma) that comes with a somewhat similar appearance. The latter possesses an olive green upper body and head. Although the wing of both species exhibit a dark blue color, the plumage of the former is shaded more in green-blue than olive green. The species also has a prominent yellow-fringed tail. For any bird watcher, it's a spectacle to watch a Malabar or blue-winged parakeet in flight!
Malabar parakeet (Psittacula columboides) also known as the blue-winged parakeet is a bird species of the Psittaculidae family. These parrots are not to be confused with the blue-winged grass parakeet from Tasmania.
Classified under the Psittacula genus, the blue-winged parakeet belongs to the Aves class.
The population distribution of the Malabar parakeet is pretty stable, with no major identified threats. Although there's a lack of quantification records, unlike the sun parakeet that is currently endangered or the Near-Threatened Alexandrine parakeet, the blue-winged parakeet does not qualify to the threshold of being considered vulnerable. The species occurs commonly within its geographical range.
Native to India, the blue-winged parakeet range map primarily encompasses the southwestern regions, including the Western Ghats as well as some parts of the Eastern Ghats. These birds are replete in the states of Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, and Goa. You might come across a blue-winged parakeet in one of the sanctuaries or national parks of South India namely the Kudremukh National Park, Thattekad Wildlife Sanctuary, Anshi National Park, and Nagarhole National Park.
The Malabar parakeet also known as the blue-wing parakeet can thrive in a variety of forest habitats comprising both tropical and subtropical forests, forest clearings, shrublands, and abandoned plantations. These birds can adjust both in moist deciduous as well as evergreen forests.
Malabar parakeets can be spotted in small flocks or pairs (during the breeding season).
The blue-winged parakeet has a life expectancy of about 15 years or even more. According to estimations, the bird can survive for 20 long years in the wilderness.
Breeding between the adult male and female birds occurs during the dry season post-northern monsoon. In the Western Ghats, the breeding season extends from December to March. Nests are constructed inside tree holes at an elevation of about 19.7 ft (6 m) above the ground, and sometimes abandoned barbet and woodpecker nests are used up. Both the adult male and female partners take turns to incubate the eggs for 23 days and later feed the hatchlings. However, mostly females look after the young, and males take charge at the end of the nesting period. After fledging for a month, the hatchlings move out of the nest.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List has classified the blue-winged parrots under the Least Concern group.
The Malabar parakeet exhibits sexual dimorphism. The bird projects a dark blue-gray plumage all over the body that becomes slightly darker on the covert feathers as well as a scapular. The upper back portion and nape are more of a paler shade of gray. There is a distinct black collar band around the neck in adults, while an adult male possesses a blue-green collar band right beneath it. The tail feathers are blue with yellow at the edge. The species exhibits black irises and gray feet. While the curved upper mandible has a bright red coloration, the lower part is shaded grayish black. The bill of the female lacks the red hue. The female resembles the female plum-headed parakeet in appearance, with the only exception of a thick yellow band that distinguishes between the two: a juvenile gray head, green upperparts, thinner collar, and a pale orange bill.
Parrots and parakeets are the cutest among all bird species. The dark green plumage and long yellow-edged tail render them a beautiful appearance - one of the reasons why they're so popular as house pets. Blue-winged parrots, although it is not as brightly colored as the orange-yellow-red shaded jandaya parakeet, it has an unusual exotic appeal. Any bird lover would instantly fall for this green-blue-hued bird.
The species communicates through gestures and sounds. Gestures and body language are mostly used for courtship displays or while manifesting territorialism. It's not uncommon to hear a Malabar parakeet screeching loudly. Sounds like a successive high-pitched 'krreeeh' or 'keek-keek-keek' have been identified.
The average length of a Malabar parakeet with a yellow-edged tail falls in the range of 14.2-15 in (36-38 cm). The bird is quite larger than the monk parakeet measuring around 11.4 in (28.9 cm).
In general, parakeets have the capability of flying at both high as well as low speeds. It would be safe to mention that these birds are not as slow as the American woodcock that flies at a speed of 5 mph (8 kph). However, the upper elevation limit of the species is 5,249 ft (1,599.8 m).
The exact weight of these medium-sized adult birds is yet to be deciphered.
Just like every other bird species, adult males are called cocks while females are termed hens.
A baby blue-winged parrots are formally called a hatchling or nestling, but you can also call it a chick to keep it short and sweet.
The Malabar parakeet indulges in a herbivorous diet. The bird primarily feeds on a variety of leaves, buds, and petals, which brings to light its folivorous inclinations. These parakeets also draw nectar from flowers and feast on seeds, grains, cereals, nuts, and fruits such as figs. Apart from seeds, a major part of their diet comprises plants like Grevillea, Erythrina, and Loranthus longiflorus.
These birds are absolutely harmless to human beings, unlike gray herons. They feed on seeds and leaves so they do not cause harm to anybody.
Please check your local laws and regulations regarding any animals as pets as many are illegal in many countries or have strict rules surrounding them.
Kidadl Advisory: All pets should only be bought from a reputable source. It is recommended that as a potential pet owner you carry out your own research prior to deciding on your pet of choice. Being a pet owner is very rewarding but it also involves commitment, time and money. Ensure that your pet choice complies with the legislation in your state and/or country. You must never take animals from the wild or disturb their habitat. Please check that the pet you are considering buying is not an endangered species, or listed on the CITES list, and has not been taken from the wild for the pet trade.
Did anyone tell you that the species also went by the name of 'Bababudan parrot' in the trading industry?
The Malabar parakeet is a non-migratory bird residing solely in South India. However, these birds might navigate locally within their habitat range mainly for foraging or breeding purposes. Nomadic tendencies have been observed in times of food scarcity.
An adult female blue-winged parakeet usually lays four eggs after successful breeding. Nests are normally placed inside tree holes. Sometimes unused barbet and woodpecker nests are utilized.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these giant guitarfish facts and giant frogfish facts for kids.
You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable manta ray coloring pages.
Main image by Mailamal.