Home | Bird Behavior | The Ringneck (Rose-ringed) Parakeet – A Great Pet and Unlikely NYC Resident – Part 1

The Ringneck (Rose-ringed) Parakeet – A Great Pet and Unlikely NYC Resident – Part 1

The adaptable Ringneck Parakeet (Psittacula krameri) has been introduced to more far-flung places – Egypt, Macao, Singapore, Zanzibar, Great Britain, and California, to name a few – than perhaps any other parrot. To this impressive list I would like to add a population that is little-known and quite unexpected – the tiny flock that lives in New York City.

From Indian Woodlands to Bronx Streets

Rose-ringed ParaakeetAfter catching glimpses of the phantom Ringnecks while birding along the Bronx River as a youth (and doubting what I had seen), I lost track of them until I began working as a bird keeper at the Bronx Zoo.  Shortly thereafter I came upon an injured Ringneck and began seeing the flock of 10-15 birds regularly.  The individual I cared for was missing several toes and showed other signs of battling the long, cold NY winters, but was otherwise in fine shape.

The birds proved to be of a subspecies regularly imported from South Asia, the Indian Ringneck Parakeet (Psittacula krameri manillensis)I tried to trace the story of their origins, and learned that a small group had apparently escaped from a crate at Kennedy Airport in the early 1970’s.  I’ve not been able to confirm the story, but I’m sure that the Jackrabbits populating Kennedy’s airfields originated as escapees, so, why not….

Adjusting to City Life

The flock remained stable in numbers for many years, with deaths and births cancelling each other out, and I never saw more than 15 individuals.  This puzzles me, as Ringnecks have established large feral populations in several European cities that are likely as “unwelcoming” for parrots as is NYC.  The Bronx birds are also quite wary, which contrasts with their bold demeanor in other places – but this may have been a consequence of having survived the “bad years” in the Bronx (early on I learned to watch my mouth – and back – as well!).

Natural Range and Habitat

Rose-ringed Parakeet feral maleThe Ringneck Parakeet’s enormous natural range spans 2 continents.  Four subspecies extend from Central/Northeastern Africa through Pakistan, Nepal and India to Myanmar and Sri Lanka

The preferred habitat of Ringneck Parakeets is open woodland, but they adapt readily to gardens, parks, farms and even quite large cities.  Populations in some parts of Africa and Sri Lanka inhabit dry savannah and arid scrub habitats.

Ringnecks and People

Flocks of over 15,000 individuals have been reported in India, where the species is generally described as “fearless”.  Indeed, they are considered to be agricultural pests throughout much of their range, and have been known to attack and open grain bags stockpiled at rail stations (a habit that has also been picked up by several species of Cockatoo in Australia).

Long hunted for this reason, Ringneck Parakeets are in sharp decline in certain agricultural districts in India.  This is, however, offset somewhat by their ready adaptability to town and city life in other areas.

Further Reading

Pease see my article on Monk Parrots for the story of another “city parrot”.

A video of London’s feral Ringnecks is posted here.

Pease see also the American Museum of Natural History article “Exotic Birds in NYC”.

In Part II I’ll cover the Ringneck’s long history in captivity (long as in “favored pet of Socrates”!) and discuss its care.


Rose-ringed Parakeet image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by J.M.Garg

Feral male Rose-ringed Parakeet image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by London looks and Snowmanradio


  1. avatar

    Thank you very much Frank a big help on the article on the Indian Ring Neck Parakeet.

  2. avatar

    Hello Linda, Frank Indiviglio here.

    My pleasure…please let me know if you need anything further.

    Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  3. avatar

    in response to the bird you call ring neck or (rose) ringnecks … these are or may be better known as the (alexandrian) parakeet … males have the rose ring and females dont , i just lost my female alexandrian to the outside world of the mt. hood nash. forest , i hope she will servive to find a good home , thx … kerry c.

  4. avatar

    Hello Kerry, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks for your interest in our blog. Common names are always tricky, so I usually include the scientific name, even for common species. You’ll notice that the bird to which I refer in this article is Psittacula krameri; the one which I believe you have in mine is related but a distinct species, P. eupatria. Please check here for information on these birds and others in the genus.

    I’m sorry to hear about your misfortune and hope for a happy conclusion. I look forward to hearing from you in the future.

    Good luck and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

About 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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