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Introducing Australia’s Colorful Grass Parakeets

The grass parakeets (7 species in the genus Neophema) are small, active birds that, by departing from “typical” parakeet behavior, offer a delightful change of pace to serious bird keepers.  For some reason, these colorful, hearty parakeets are not as popular in the USA as they are abroad.  However, several species are well-established in captivity, and it is the rare aviculturist who does not become a devoted fan after keeping a pair.

Unique Flight Behavior

Grass parakeets are strong, swift fliers that zip about erratically and change direction frequently.  They therefore show themselves to best advantage in an outdoor aviary, although their small size and trusting nature allows for maintenance in large indoor cages as well.

Several species, including the ever-popular Bourke’s parakeet (Neophema bourkii) and the brilliantly-colored turquoise parakeet (N. pulchella) have the unusual habit of flying about at dusk and even after dark.  In fact, the gorgeous colors and broken, swooping flight of dusk-flying turquoise parakeets has led famed parrot biologist Joseph Forshaw to describe them as resembling “multi-colored bats”.

Subtle and Not-So-Subtle Beauties

Each grass parakeet species is beautiful in its own way – the muted grays of the Bourke’s parakeet are infused with subtle shades of pastel pink while the turquoise parakeet is flamboyantly clad in brilliant green, red and turquoise blue.

Keeping Grass Parakeets

Grass parakeets are quite confiding, even in the wild, and often try walking away from disturbances before taking flight.  They adjust readily to captivity and breed well, especially in outdoor aviaries (most are, despite their delicate appearances, relatively cold-hearty).  They are, in contrast to most of their relatives, quite easy on live plants, and get along very well with finches, painted quail and other small aviary birds.


Further Reading

You can read more about the natural history of the turquoise parakeet at http://www.birdsinbackyards.net/finder/display.cfm?id=276.

Image referenced from Wikipedia and originally posted by Danweh.


  1. avatar

    Very nice articles

  2. avatar

    Hello Danny, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks for your interest in our blog and the kind comments. I look forward to hearing from you in the future.

    Good luck and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  3. avatar

    does a grass parakeet talk? Would they relate to a parrollete (sp)?

  4. avatar

    Hello Kathy, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks for your interest in our blog. Grass Parakeets are not known for their speaking abilities but they can learn to speak a few words and also to copy other sounds; abilities varies from bird to bird.

    Getting along with a parrotlet can be tricky…much depends upon the individual birds; if both were kept alone, it might be possible. If either has a companion of the same species, then likely not. Birds can also become territorial if a new individual is introduced to their cage, and the older may also become possessive of you, and attack another bird. Best to introduce them very slowly, by keeping the cages side by side until they are interacting through the bars.

    Please let me know if you need any further information. Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

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I believe that I was born with an intense interest in animals, as neither I nor any of my family can recall a time when I was not fascinated by creatures large and small. One might imagine this to be an unfortunate set of circumstances for a person born and raised in the Bronx, but, in actuality, quite the opposite was true. Most importantly, my family encouraged both my interest and the extensive menagerie that sprung from it. My mother and grandmother somehow found ways to cope with the skunks, flying squirrels, octopus, caimans and countless other odd creatures that routinely arrived un-announced at our front door. Assisting in hand-feeding hatchling praying mantises and in eradicating hoards of mosquitoes (I once thought I had discovered “fresh-water brine shrimp” and stocked my tanks with thousands of mosquito larvae!) became second nature to them. My mother went on to become a serious naturalist, and has helped thousands learn about wildlife in her 16 years as a volunteer at the Bronx Zoo. My grandfather actively conspired in my zoo-buildings efforts, regularly appearing with chipmunks, boa constrictors, turtles rescued from the Fulton Fish Market and, especially, unusual marine creatures. It was his passion for seahorses that led me to write a book about them years later. Thank you very much, for a complete biography of my experience click here.
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