The Plum-Headed Parakeet: A Medium-Sized Parrot of Striking Beauty (2024)

The plum-headed parakeet is a medium-sized parrot of striking beauty. This Asian parrot makes a good pet, as it is less aggressive and possessive than some other parrot species, and it gets along well with others. It is less demanding of an owner's time than many other parrots, but it still needs regular interaction to remain socialized.

Species Overview

Common Names: Plum-headed parakeet, plum-headed parrot

Scientific Name: Psittacula cyanocephala

Adult Size: 12 inches, weighing 2.3 to 2.8 ounces

Life Expectancy: 15 and 20 years, although many can live 30 years or more with proper care

Origin and History

Plum-headed parakeets hail from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. They thrive in the woodlands and forested areas, where they make the trees their habitat. Escaped pet plum-headed parakeets live in a variety of climates around the world, sometimes establishing small breeding populations.

A variation of this species, the so-called intermediate parakeet (Psittacula intermedia), is thought to be a hybrid between the plum-headed and the slaty-headed parakeet.

Although wild numbers of this bird are gradually dwindling due to habitat loss, plum-headed parakeets still thrive and are not threatened by extinction.


Plum-headed parakeets are generally gentle, social, and affectionate birds with their owners, although they can be somewhat stand-offish with strangers. They are relatively quiet for a parrot, so they may be the right choice for those bird owners who live inapartmentsor other housing situations near neighbors.

When hand-fed as babies, plum-headed parakeets can become very tame and will bond strongly with their owners. This bird is less demanding of an owner's time than many parrots. However, regular interaction is still necessary to maintain human bonding.

It is essential for those who do not have experience with Psittacula species to understand that many of these birds will go through abluffingphase during their adolescence. This phase is strictly hormone-related and is not an indication of how the bird's personality will be once it reaches maturity. Generally, birds that arehandleddaily stay tame and bond well with their owners.

Speech and Vocalizations

Many of these birds—especially the males—are good talkers. The chattering that begins at about 6 to 8 months of age may give way to coherent mimicry very soonif an owner is willing to talk regularly to the bird. Speech is not a universal skill, and some birds will never exhibit this talent.

How to Teach Your Pet Bird to Talk

Plum-Headed Parakeet Colors and Markings

Plum-headed parakeets are a dimorphic species, so it is relatively easy to tell mature males and females apart by the color variants of their plumage. The body of both sexes is primarily green with varying shades occurring on the breast, abdomen, back, and wings. Males have purplish-red heads that are outlined by a black ring around the neck. Females exhibit blue-gray feathers on their headsand lack the black neck stripe. Instead, many of them have yellow-tinged feathers around their necks.

Caring for the Plum-Headed Parakeet

Because it has such a long tail, a plum-headed parakeet is best suited to a relatively large cage. A cage with a 24-inch-by-36-inch footprint and 36 inches in height is a minimum requirement. Bar spacing should be no more than 1/2 inch. Include a different play gym containing toys within the cage, and another play gym separate from the cage for exercise periods. If you are keeping a pair of birds, provide them with a larger aviary enclosure. In an aviary setting, the plum-headed is one of the few parrots that will happily coexist with non-competing birds, such as finches.

Like any parrot, the plum-headed parakeet needs some time each day outside the cage, but unlike other, more demanding parrots, the plum-headed is not a cuddler that needs constant petting and hands-on play. Instead, it will likely be content to merely sit on your shoulder and "talk" with you. Without this level of daily interaction, though, the bird may withdraw and even become somewhat wild again.

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Common Health Problems

Plum-headed parakeets are relatively hardy birds, although they can be affected by damp, cold conditions. Some common avian diseases affecting this species include:

  • Polyomavirus, a virus that can skin problems
  • Sarcocystosis, fatal protozoan parasitic disease
  • Aspergillosis, a fungal respiratory disease
  • Bacterial infections that can cause pneumonia
  • Psittacosis, parrot fever caused by the chlamydia bacteria

Diet and Nutrition

In the wild, this bird feeds mostly on fruit and seeds. Like other parrots, plum-headed parakeets do best in captivity when they eat a diet consisting of high-quality seed and pellet mix, supplemented daily with fresh,bird-safe fruits and vegetables. A bird will eat up to 1 tablespoon of food per day.

These birds enjoy variety in their diets, so experiment with foods like sprouts, leafy greens, berries, and even peppers. Birds cannot pick up on "spicy hot" flavors as humans do, so many of them enjoy picking apart spicy peppers to get at the seeds inside.

Seeds vs. Pellets: What to Feed Your Bird


Plum-headed parakeets are very active birds in the wild. In captivity, these birds must have an exercise and play area. These birds should be allowed a minimum of 3 to 4 hours outside the cage each day, in a safe, bird-proofed play area. Always supervise this free period to prevent accidents and injuries. This exercise and interaction time is critical for keeping a plum-headed parakeet healthy and well socialized.


  • Social, although standoffish with strangers

  • Can be trained to talk


  • Affectionate, although does not like cuddling

  • Requires at least 3 hours of interaction or exercise daily

Where to Adopt or Buy a Plum-Headed Parakeet

Plum-headed parakeets are a common pet, and orphaned birds may be available, so check with rescue organizations and pet adoption agencies. Some aviary pet stores may sell this bird, although prospective owners will more likely need to seek out a breeder.

Pricing for this bird ranges from $400 to $700. If you're going the breeder route, make sure that the breeder is reputable by asking them how long they've been breeding the species. Make sure that your bird is alert, active, and exhibits all thesigns of a healthy bird, such as bright eyes, clean feathers, and a full crop.

Rescues, adoption organizations, and breeders where you can find plum-headed parakeets parrots include:

More Pet Bird Species and Further Research

If the plum-headed parakeet interests you, also consider these birds:

  • co*ckatiel Species Profile
  • Sun Conure Species Profile
  • Quaker Parrot Species Profile

Otherwise, check out all of our other small parrotspecies profiles.

The Plum-Headed Parakeet: A Medium-Sized Parrot of Striking Beauty (2024)


The Plum-Headed Parakeet: A Medium-Sized Parrot of Striking Beauty? ›

The plum-headed parakeet is a medium-sized parrot of striking beauty. This Asian parrot makes a good pet, as it is less aggressive and possessive than some other parrot species, and it gets along well with others.

Are plum-headed parakeets rare? ›

Plum-headed Parakeet : They have become quite rare over the years in the President's Estate. They were spotted only once where grains are scattered adjacent to the north steps of the main building for birds to feed.

Can plum head parrot talk? ›

In captivity, it can learn to mimic beeps and short whistling tunes, and can talk very well. Neoaulobia psittaculae, a quill mite, has been described from the species. A species of Haemoproteus, H. handai, has been described from blood samples from the plum-headed parakeet.

How long does a plum-headed parakeet live? ›

Lifespan, ageing, and relevant traits

One specimen lived for 18.8 years in captivity [0669]. Maximum longevity could be underestimated in this species. In captivity, these animals have been known to breed from about 2 years of age [0979].

Are plum-headed parakeets in the wild? ›

The Plum-headed Parakeet, Psittacula cyanocepbala (Linne), is indigenous to most of India, West Pakistan, Nepal east to Bhutan, West Bengal, Rameswaram Island, and Sri Lanka. These birds prefer wooded plains and foothills near cultivated areas.

Are plum headed parakeets aggressive? ›

The plum-headed parakeet is a medium-sized parrot of striking beauty. This Asian parrot makes a good pet, as it is less aggressive and possessive than some other parrot species, and it gets along well with others.

What is the rarest kind of parakeet? ›

The echo parakeet was also hunted by early visitors to Mauritius and due to destruction and alteration of its native habitat, its numbers declined throughout the 20th century, reaching as few as eight to 12 in the 1980s, when it was referred to as "the world's rarest parrot".

What parrot has the highest IQ? ›

The African grey parrot is considered by many to be the world's smartest bird. This highly intelligent species is known for its exceptional ability to mimic human speech, as well as its remarkable problem-solving and cognitive abilities.

What is the easiest parrot to train to talk? ›

Considered by many to be the smartest of the talking birds, the African grey parrot can expand its vocabulary of hundreds of words. These are one of the best birds for beginners, as these pets are known for their exceptional understanding and imitation of human speech.

What is the easiest parrot to talk to? ›

Quaker Parrot

Quakers are very social and tend to pick up human speech quickly. Being such fast learners, they are popular among inexperienced bird owners who are new to training a bird to talk.

What is a plum-headed parakeet behavior? ›

Plum-headed parakeets are gregarious and noisy birds and communicate with each other using various raucous calls. They also roost communally. Their usual flight and contact call is 'tuink' repeated now and then. The flight is swift, and the birds often twist and turn rapidly.

What size is a plum head nest box? ›

Nest Box Size: Vertical box 12" x 12" x 24" (30.5cm x 30.5cm x 61cm).

How many days can you leave a parakeet? ›

It's not advisable to be left alone for a week since they need fresh water, food and playing daily. They don't like to be lonely or bored. It could lead to boredom or even depression. The maximum of leaving them alone without supervision are only two days, that's it.

What fruits can I feed my plum-headed parakeet? ›

1. 30-50% banana. 2. Up to 20% of other fruits (skinned and pureed) – figs, muskmelon, grapes, papaya and other soft fruits.

How do you tell the difference between a parrot and a parakeet? ›

To sum up, the primary difference between a parrot and a parakeet is their size and ability to mimic human speech. Parrots are larger birds with a more robust beak and many species have the ability to mimic human speech. In comparison, parakeets are smaller birds with slender bodies and vibrant colours.

Where do plum headed parakeets live? ›

Endemic to the Indian subcontinent where it can occur in any well-wooded area outside NE India and the high Himalayas. Similar to the largely non-overlapping Blossom-headed Parakeet, but shows a darker shade of plum or gray on the head and a white-tipped tail (not yellow).

What is the rarest pet bird in the world? ›

The Spix's macaw is one of the rarest birds in the world: it is estimated that there are only 177 captive individuals in the world. The species was declared extinct in the wild in 2000. Image by the ACTP.

What is one of the rarest birds? ›

  • Nov 17, 2023, 02:09 PM IST. 7 of Earth's Rarest Birds. ...
  • Golden Pheasant. The golden pheasant is native to the Western forests of China. ...
  • Cebu Flowerpecker. ...
  • Sisserou or Imperial Amazon. ...
  • Blue-eyes Ground Dove. ...
  • Kakapo. ...
  • Stresemann's Bristlefront. ...
  • South Philippine Dwarf Kingfisher.
Nov 17, 2023

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