Derbyan Parakeet Care Sheet

Scientific Facts

Scientific NamePsittacula derbiana
Higher ClassificationRose-ringed Parakeets


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Lord Derby’s parakeets are 45–50 cm (18–20 in) in length and are sexually dimorphic. They have a mostly green plumage over their dorsal surface (i.e., from behind), black lores and lower cheeks, a bluish-purple crown, and pale yellow eyes. The throat, breast, abdomen, and under-wing coverts are greyish blue to lavender. The thighs and vent areas are yellowish-green with blue edging on some of the feathers. The tail feathers are shades of green; some edged with blue. Male birds have a red upper mandible with a yellow tip, while the lower mandible is black. The females have an all-black beak.

Immature Lord Derby’s parakeets are duller in color than the adults. Juvenile birds have green crowns, orange-red upper and lower mandible (beak), and their irises are dark and do not lighten until they reach maturity between two and three years of age.


Breeding season usually begins between April and June. The female lays a clutch of two to four eggs (36.1 mm × 27.7 mm [1.42 in × 1.09 in]) in nest holes of trees. The young hatch after an incubation period of about 23 days and will fledge after 8 to 9 weeks.

Native Region/Natural Habitat

These parakeets have a natural preference for mountainous terrains, living in alpine-like forests in regions of India, Tibet, and parts of China – the Sichuan and Yunnan provinces. Even though they nest in remote areas, they are still a threatened breed. The biggest threats to their survival are poaching illegal trade, and forest cutting, which disrupts their breeding habits.

Speech and Sounds

While generally not noisy, Derbyan Parakeet is quite the capable talker. These parrots will develop a modest vocabulary and repeat words and phrases they hear most often. Another interesting fact is their ability to put these words in context. When they want to sleep, eat, or play, they will use appropriate sentences to let you know. Once they aren’t shown a lot of attention and are generally neglected, they might become noisier than usual.


ColorsBlack stripes and bold color combinations make Derbyan Parakeet a unique pet bird!

These parakeets are one of the most interesting when it comes to coloration. The wings, neck, legs, and back are mostly green, while the belly, chest, and heads are colored in a distinct purplish-grey. The unique feature of the Derbyan Parakeet is its black facial stripes. One band wraps their forehead in the eye level, while the more prominent, lower one spans the chin and neck area. One of the major differences between males and females are beaks. Males have a rosy red beak, while the females have an all black one, giving them a slightly grumpy look.

Personality & Behavior

These are one of the calmer, shyer parakeet breeds, but are still very intelligent and energetic. It might take them a little longer to adapt and socialize with their owners and the new environment, but when they do, you will get to know their lovely, fun side. It is, in general, a parrot with balanced traits – it’s energetic, inquisitive, and loves to play, but it can also be affectionate, calm, and surprisingly cuddly. With enough given attention and love, you’ll slowly get to know your pet, and fall in love much faster.

Breeding Individual Pairs

It’s much easier to control the situation if you give a single pair of parakeets their own space for breeding.

You’ll never have doubts about any chick’s parentage.

There’s far less chance of fighting between the adults.

Breeding Set Up

Having the correct kind of set up will encourage your birds to breed. Make sure you have the following items.

Breeding Cage

According to the Hamilton & District Budgerigar Society (HDBS). the cage you select for a single pair should measure approximately 24″ L x 12″ W x 16″ H, and it should have a separate door where you will attach the nest box to the outside of the cage so the birds can enter it from the inside of their cage. The cage should have several perches, and one should be placed close to the nest box opening so the chicks can reach it easily when they are old enough to leave the box.

You’ll need to hang a mineral block and cuttlebone from the side of the cage to provide the female with extra calcium for making eggshells. There should be dishes for food and water, as well as an extra dish for fresh and soft foods.

Parakeet Nesting Box

Nest boxes come in many sizes and designs, and they’re usually designated for specific breeds, so you should select one marked for parakeets. HDBS recommends a nest box with a 1 1/2-inch hole for the birds to use as a doorway. If possible, choose a rectangular box with the opening at one end, and a circular recess in the floor on the other side for the eggs. The box will either have a lid on top or on one of the sides so you can check for eggs or hatchlings.

Nesting Material

There are different types of nesting material available, so you may have to try a few before you find the type your pair likes best. Safe choices include aspen shavings and recycled newspaper. Even shredded newspaper is acceptable, but do not use cedar shavings because their fumes are toxic to birds.

Don’t be surprised if your pair pushes all the nesting material out of the box. Parakeets are notorious for liking a bare box.


Parakeets need about 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness and rest under normal conditions. They tend to come into breeding condition when the days are longer, so it can be beneficial to extend their daylight by a couple of hours using full-spectrum lighting. The light is also necessary to help females synthesize vitamin D so they can produce strong eggshells and bones.

Parakeet Breeder Diet

The two keys to a breeder diet are variety and abundance. If your pair has an abundance of healthy food, they are more likely to go to the nest. Soft foods are especially helpful for bringing a pair into breeding condition, and the pair needs soft food to feed the chicks as well. Feeding these foods before breeding helps ensure your pair will eat them readily once the chicks hatch.

This diet should include:

High-quality parakeet pellet mix: Pellets offer rounded nutrition with every bite. Keep them available constantly.

Fresh, organic leafy greens, vegetables, and fruits: Especially good choices include kale, Swiss chard, broccoli, carrots, peas, corn, apples, bananas, cooked sweet potatoes, and bell peppers. Sprout mixes also offer a lot of nutrition. Wash and chop these foods before serving.

Cooked, chopped eggs or commercial egg food: Eggs provide extra protein, plus they are soft food that digests quickly so the male can feed the female, and she can feed the chicks. Chop the shells up with the rest of the eggs because the hen will get extra calcium to help prevent egg binding.

High-quality parakeet seed mix: Parakeets do need seed, but not as the staple of their diet because they tend to just pick out what they like. Choose a mix that has a variety of seeds and grains or go with a hulled product like Lafeber Nutri-Berries, which provides omega-3 as well.

Abundant clean water: Soiled water is a breeding ground for harmful bacteria. Change the water at least three to four times a day, or any time it gets dirty.

Throw away old soft and fresh foods after two to three hours and replace it with fresh, so the birds don’t eat anything that’s spoiled.

Common Health Issues

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With good nutrition and care, budgies can live for 15 to 18 years. To keep your bird healthy, make sure he has a veterinary exam once a year. Here are 10 of the most common diseases the birds suffer from:

  1. Tumors. Common tumors include fatty tumors, testicular tumors, kidneys, adrenal tumors, and many other types.
  2. Goiter. Iodine deficiency will cause enlargement of the thyroid gland that can cause changes in the bird’s voice.
  3. Psittacosis or parrot fever. Caused by the bacteria Chlamydia psittaci, this disease can be transmitted to people. Birds should be tested, especially if they will be living with elderly people, who are most prone to the disease.
  4. Cnemodocoptes mites. Scaly face and scaly leg mites cause a build-up of scales with tiny holes on the surface of the feet and beak. The condition can cause beak deformities.
  5. Liver disease. This is probably associated most often with poor nutrition, although other illnesses can cause the condition.
  6. Polyomavirus. First described as “budgie fledgling disease,” this virus causes the death of chicks as they emerge from the nest.
  7. Psittacine beak and feather disease. This causes the poor formation of flight and tail feathers (often in combination with polyoma. Affected birds are often referred to as creepers because they have no flight feathers and cannot fly).
  8. Brown hypertrophy of the cere. This is a hormonal imbalance of older female budgies.
  9. Megabacteria. Historically called “going light,” the bacteria is probably actually a yeast infection and is treated with antifungal drugs. It causes chronic weight loss.
  10. Protozoal infections. Trichomonas and giardia are common protozoal infections, especially in breeding colonies of budgies.

Traumatic accidents and accidental poisonings are common causes of death in budgies. Don’t allow them unsupervised freedom in the home as they are often killed by other family pets.


Parakeets that develop a thick scaley build-up on the beak and legs may be infected with a mite such as Knemidokoptes.  This parasite can cause permanent deformities to the beak if left untreated.  Treatment usually involves an antiparasitic drug such as ivermectin.  If your parakeet has an unusual appearance to its beak or feet, a veterinary examination is needed to determine the underlying cause.

Scratching & Feather-Plucking:

A parakeet that scratches at itself often is likely suffering from an infection by the parasite Giardia or some other infection or internal disorder.  Parakeets are much less likely to feather-pluck as a result of a behavioral issue than other parrots.  If you see this behavior, collect several fresh, moist fecal samples and place them in a Ziploc bag along with a moistened piece of paper towel.  Keep this at room temperature and bring along to your visit to the veterinarian.

Abnormal Droppings:

A change in your parakeet’s droppings is a cause for concern.  Sometimes it can be linked to a change in the diet–perhaps you gave your parakeet a piece of grape earlier, and its droppings seem more watery that afternoon.  Usually, if it is due to a treat, the droppings will return to normal within a few hours.  Other times it can be a sign of a serious illness such as an infection, kidney disease, liver disease, and many other problems.  You should follow the advice above and collect several abnormal droppings to show the veterinarian.


In younger parakeets, this is often due to an injury such as a sprained or broken leg.  In older parakeets, lameness may signal a more serious internal problem, such as a tumor.  Tumors of the gonads and kidneys can often cause a parakeet to sit at rest, holding one leg up or limp as it moves around on its perches.

Change In Color Of Cere:

The cere is the area right at the base of the beak where the nostrils are located.  In adult males, it is bright blue, while in females, it is brown or tan.  A change in the color or texture of the cere can be normal in aged parakeets, or it may signal a serious underlying illness.

Care Sheet

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Parakeets are flock birds and many aspects of their life in the wild center around flock activities, so it is recommended that you get at least two birds, and be prepared for eggs if you keep a mixed gendered group. You can keep a lone parakeet as long as you provide sufficient daily interaction. For a single parakeet, the minimum cage size we recommend is 18” x18” x 18”. For a pair, the cage should measure no smaller than 30” x 30” x 30”. The more birds you have, the larger your cage will have to be; the bigger, the better.


Water can be offered to your parakeet in either a bowl or a water bottle specifically designed for use by birds. Whatever your choice, be sure your parakeet gets fresh water frequently, preferably daily. Your parakeet will also require regular baths. This can be accomplished by providing a shallow dish with water so the bird can bathe itself. Another option is spraying or misting your bird. You never want to spray your bird directly, but rather spray above the bird and let the waterfall onto you parakeet from above. Room temperature water should be used, not hot or cold. Finally, you can literally shower with your parakeet with specially designed shower perches. NEVER use soap or any substance other than clean water on your bird.


There are a variety of foods available that range from strictly seeds to strictly pellets and everything in between. Seed provides variety, and pellets provide consistency. Your bird may pick through a seed diet and choose to only eat its favorite parts, possibly missing nutritionally important parts of the food. Pellet diets can be more nutritionally balanced, but do not provide the variety that seed diets do. Also, if you’re using colored pellets, your parakeet may only decide to eats its favorite color, wasting a portion of the food.

Fresh Food

There are a variety of choices, including crushed corn cob, gravel paper, and recycled newspaper. Any of these choices will be acceptable to use in the bottom of your parakeet’s cage. Some options, like corn cob, may be easier to spot clean, thus making them last a little longer, so you get more for your money.

Availability and Where to Get One

You will be able to find specialized bird shops today that offer such kinds of birds. It is important that you only obtain from a reliable and trusted bird shop. You can also ask your avian vet for referrals and recommendations.

Fun Facts

  • Parakeets can reach 7 inches in length and 0.9 to 1.4 ounces of weight.
  • The parakeet has a yellow head and a green body covered with black markings. Yellow-colored feathers contain a fluorescent pigment that attracts the opposite sex during the breeding season. The parakeet is covered with nearly 3.000 feathers.
  • Males and females can be distinguished via fleshy skin above the beak, also known as cere. Males have blue, while females have a tan or brownish-colored cere. Also, females like to chew things, while males like to talk.
  • The parakeet has a small, slender body and long tail. Its feet are X-shaped, with two toes oriented forward and two backward. The parakeet is able to rotate its head for 180 degrees.
  • Parakeet is an omnivore (it eats plants and meat). Its diet is based on seed, fruit, eucalyptus leaves, various types of ferns, and insects.
  • The parakeet has a body temperature of 38.8 degrees Celsius. Its heart produces 200 beats per minute.
  • Parakeet is a nomadic bird that often changes location in the wild. It is able to travel hundreds of miles to find water.
  • The parakeet cleans its body by rolling in the wet grass.
  • Parakeets are social animals that live in large groups (flocks). Under ideal environmental conditions, they can form flocks composed of thousands of birds.
  • Natural enemies of parakeets are snakes and birds of prey.
  • Parakeets reproduce during the rainy season when food is abundant. They produce two broods per year.
  • Female lays from 4 to 8 (one at a time) eggs during the period of 8 to 16 days. Nests are located inside the tree. Female uses the beak to expand the cavity in the tree and create a desirable shape of the nest. Eggs hatch after an incubation period of 18 to 21 days.
  • Father provides food for the mother and his offspring. Young birds leave the nest 4 to 5 weeks after hatching.
  • Parakeets are one of the most popular cage birds in the world because they can learn to speak.
  • Parakeet can survive from 5 to 10 years in the wild and up to 29 years in captivity.
  • Colony Parakeet Breeding Versus Breeding Single Pairs
  • According to South Coast Pet Hospital, there are two main practices for breeding parakeets: colony breeding and breeding individual pairs.
  • Colony Breeding for Parakeets
  • Colony breeding involves setting up several pairs in a large flight. The flight should be about 6′ L x 3′ W x 4′ H, with wire spacing of no more than one-half inch. You should provide a nest box for each pair, plus one extra nest box to prevent fighting, and all the nest boxes should be hung at the same height near the top of the enclosure.
  • While colony breeding may provide some convenience, such as having one area to clean and ensuring your pairs get enough exercise, it also has some drawbacks.
  • You can’t ensure your pairs won’t switch partners, or that an especially dominant male won’t breed more than one female.
  • There may still be fighting even though having a balanced number of males and females usually keeps things peaceful.
  • There’s a small chance that some parents will attack babies that aren’t their own, and eggs are sometimes damaged as well.
  • You may not be able to keep track of which chicks belong to which pair if you allow the parents to raise them through weaning.


Can a parakeet be alone?

The main reason why you might prefer to have just one parakeet is that a solo bird generally is more affectionate toward his owner. When kept alone, a parakeet will come to see you as together in a flock. The parakeet is a social creature, though, so it will be lonely if alone all day.

What do parakeets need in their cage?

Instead, a parakeet diet should include pellets, mixed seeds, and a variety of fresh fruits and veggies. You will also need to provide your parakeet with a cuttlebone and mineral block, which offer calcium and other essential nutrients.

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