PET BIRD PERSONALITIES (6): Grass Parakeets, Hawkheaded Parrots, Kakarikis

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Grass Parakeets

Grass parakeet is a term used to describe several genera of small, colorful Australian parrots that make good candidates for aviary living.

They can be kept with finches and small, nonaggressive parrots. Commonly kept species include the Bourke’s parakeet, the Princess of Wales parakeet, and the red-rumped para-keet.

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Grass parakeets are noted for their high activity levels and their quiet voices. They do not need regular interaction with people to feel content. Because they are strong fliers and need to exercise their wings, grass parakeets need large flights or aviaries.

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Grass parakeets enjoy a mixture of grass seeds in their diet. These seeds can be supplemented with greens, apples, corn, broccoli, and carrots. Some species also relish a bean-and-rice mixture.

Many species of grass parakeets are sexually dimorphic, meaning the males generally display brighter, more colorful plumage than the females.

Hawkheaded Parrots

Hawkheaded parrots are colorful, medium-sized parrots from South America. They are playful, somewhat shy parrots prone to feather picking if stressed. The hawkhead’s plumage is the most notable feature. The birds have brown faces, green wings, and red chest and neck feathers that are tipped in blue. These birds have the ability to raise their neck feathers to the point that the feathers form a ruff around the face. Experts theorize that this behavior developed as a defensive mechanism in the wild. The ruff may also be raised when the birds are exceptionally happy.

Hawkheads are capable of mimicking sounds and whistles, and some may learn to say a few words. They require a varied diet of seeds and fresh foods, daily attention, and mental stimulation, such as toys, to be content pets. They should be housed in good-sized cages.


Kakarikis (pronounced kak-uh-REE-kees) are small, highly active parrots from New Zealand. Their name derives from a Maori word for “little parrot.” They are bold birds with no real fear of people. They are not naturally cuddly, and some individuals may be high-strung.

Two kakariki species are available in the United States: the red-fronted kakariki and the yellow-crowned kakariki. In both species, the birds are predom-inantly green with either red or yellow feathers on their heads. Kakarikis are also highly curious birds. They will investigate their environ-ments completely, so care must be taken to parrot-proof any area to which a kakariki has access.

Because of their active natures, kakarikis need large cages. Unlike other par-rots, their food bowls should be placed on the bottom of their cages because kakarikis will dig around in their food bowls. Their diets should include a good-quality seed mix supplemented with fresh foods. (Source: Julia Rach Mancini: Why Does My Birds Do That?)

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