|Common Name||Grey-cheeked Parakeet|
|Scientific Name||Brotogeris pyrrhopterus|
|Origin||Western Ecuador and northwestern Peru.|
Developing habitat in the United States specifically in the New York state.
|Habitat||Tropical and subtropical regions.|
Moist lowland forests, arable land, and shrubland.
|Diet||In the wild, they feed on various seeds, fruits, and vegetables. |
While in captivity, pelleted feeds, fresh fruits and vegetables.
|Size||8 inches (20cm)|
|Life Span||Wild: 15 years Captivity: 28 years|
The grey-cheeked parakeet is commonly known as the fire-winged parakeet due to the bright orange color on the underside of its wings because usually, the color of other parakeet’s wings are in bluish-green or blue in color. It is characterized by its grey-blue crown, grey cheeks as its name implies, grey forehead, grey chin, and a yellow bill.
It is a medium-sized parakeet that has a main color of mostly bright green, especially on its upper body, while its underparts are a bit taller. It has dark brown eyes with an eye-ring that is color white or grey. Younger and adults grey-cheek parakeet can be distinguished easily through the color of their beak; the younger the parakeet is, the blacker its appearance is, and it would only change in color as the bird turns into 6 months.
Where it is Seen
It is an indigenous parakeet to western Ecuador and northwestern Peru. It also has a developing habitat in the United States, specifically in the New York state.
The grey-cheek parakeet favors the tropical and subtropical regions that are surrounded by moist lowland forests, arable land, shrubland, and moist lowland forests.
Behavior and Temperament
They grey cheek-parakeet is not as noisy as other large parrot species such as the conures, cockatoos, and macaws, and they only tend to create noise if they are overly excited and if they want to get your attention. They are characterized for having a careless attitude because they are used to challenging larger birds than them, and in captivity, they also create movements that irritate other domesticated pets such as dogs, and cats that is why they are often attacked and bitten. They are also a curious bird who loves to wander, climb, and jump that is why sometimes it can’t be avoided to sustain injuries.
They are described as a cuddly bird wherein they want to be touched often and that they have the tendency to hide in tight spaces. If you would let them out in their cage, make sure to make your space a bird-friendly because they can go anywhere that can harm them. The most common behavioral problem that they show is excessive chewing and biting, especially when they discover how to use their beak that is why extensive training is important so as not to introduce these bad habits to them.
Breeding and Reproduction
It would take 3 years for a grey-cheek parakeet to be sexually mature. Unlike other bird species that build their nest in tree canopies to lay eggs, the grey-cheeked parakeets prefer to build their nests in tree hollows or active termite mounds. They have a clutch size of about four to six eggs with a length of 2 cm x 1.6 cm by which both males and females take a turn in incubating the eggs for about 25–26 days.
When the eggs hatched, it would take about 12 days for their eyes to open, and after 2 days, the quills will have markings on their skin a sign that it is already developing. At 12 days old, their eyes are open, and within two more days, dark quills can be seen developing under the skin. It is quite hard to determine the bird’s sex through their physical appearance because they look almost the same; that is why the accurate way to know it is through surgical sexing, but it is risky for the bird.
Breeding this parakeet in captivity is quite a challenging task that needs a lot of planning. You may need to start with placing healthy pairs of grey-cheek parakeets in one cage, and since parakeets are only sexually mature by 3 years old, you need to make sure that all pairs have reached their maturity. The reason why it is advisable to start with a few pairs is that it is said that when they form a good bond with a flock, there are higher chances that they will be yielding fertile eggs. Once the breeding is successful and that the eggs hatched successfully, it is advisable to separate the youngs for the meantime so you can hand-feed them.
In the wild, the grey-cheek parakeet feeds on various seeds, fruits, and vegetables while in captivity, their diet consists of pelleted feeds and a combination of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Size and Weight
The grey-cheek parakeet has an average length of 8 inches (20cm) from their head to the tail, and they have an average weight of 54-60 grams, making them larger than lovebirds.
In the wild, the grey-cheek parakeet has an average lifespan of about 15 years while in captivity, they have an approximate lifespan of 23 years.
There are different factors why there is a change in your bird’s droppings. The usual cause is due to their diet if you suddenly change their food and introduce a new type your bird may experience a change in their droppings for a couple of days and expect that it will go back to its normal texture. Another reason why there is a sudden change in your bird’s dropping is due to serious illnesses such as kidney disease, liver disease, bacterial infection, and other health problems. There are different droppings appearance to classify what disease or illness impacted your bird, that is why when the change of droppings lasted for days, collect a sample, and bring it to the veterinarian for diagnosis.
Scratching and Feather plucking
When your bird scratches its skin frequently, there is a tendency that it is infested with a parasite or some internal disorder that brings irritations to them. Feather plucking is a behavioral disorder that a bird manifest, especially if it is stressed or depressed. As soon as you see any of these behaviors that your bird does, it is advisable to take it immediately in your veterinarian to know the cause and to have a concrete action to solve it.
In the wild, these birds eat primarily seed without any problem on a seed-based diet ,but in captivity, they are given a wide range of foods from sprouted seeds, pellets, fresh fruits, vegetables, and other table foods to ensure that they will stay healthy even though they have a limited exercise. It is important that before you decide to change their food, you may need to consult it with your veterinary so they can advise you on how to gradually introduce it to your bird. The reason why nutritional deficiency is common to captive birds is because of the change in their diet or due to incorrect combinations of their food.
Parakeets are prone to obesity and overweight problems. When the bird is obese or overweight, there are high chances that they may develop benign fatty tumors and lipomas that are usually seen on their chest, abdomen, and abdomen. Commonly obese birds have lipomatosis, which is a layer of fat on the surface of their body or under their skin. They may also have Xanthomas or yellow fatty tumors that can only be removed through ria sky surgery.
This disease is due to yeast and bacterial infections. This usually happens when a bird gets in contact with human saliva. The human’s mouth contains thousands and thousands of microbes; that can make the birds sick, especially the young, since they still have very low immunity. It can be treated through antibiotics.
Avian Gastric Yeast
This disease directly infects the digestive system of the bird due to the bacteria and yeast infections; that is why they have difficulty in digesting food, and their body doesn’t have the ability to absorb nutrients. The common manifestation of this disease is through sudden weight loss, making it hard to identify if they are having an Avian Gastric Yeast (AGY) infection (megabacteriosis), especially if it just infested the bird because you will not immediately notice their weight. You may need to observe them carefully. As soon as you see undigested food from their feces ,or vomit this is already a sign that they have a problem digesting it. Your veterinary would advise you to give them antibiotics for about a week so as to kill the bacteria and replace the good cells that had been infested.
This is an infectious disease that infests most aviary, especially juveniles because they haven’t produced enough immunity against this disease. It is fatal because it directly impacts the antibodies in their body that slowly weakens their immunity. The healthy the bird is, it is less likely that it will be affected. Research shows that this disease impacts the juveniles more than the adults because the juvenile’s body is still weak. When one bird has polyomavirus, it can be transmitted to other birds immediately, but good thing it is not transferable to humans. A way to avoid the disease to spread is to separate or quarantine the bird that looks weak immediately.
Among the parrot species, the conure species are the ones that are more prone to polyomavirus. There is no cure for this disease, but there is a vaccination to be given before the bird develops its wings to ensure that the immunity of the bird to fight this disease is sufficient. These are the symptoms of polyomavirus diarrhea, dehydration, vomiting, loss of appetite, swollen abdomen, and sudden weight loss. Do not wait for a few more days before taking it to a veterinary or before taking the bird to quarantine because the disease can be spread in just minutes, so you need to be observant.
Mycobacterium is one of the most common respiratory illnesses of a grey-cheek parakeet, may it be a wild-raised or a captive-raised. This happens when your bird is exposed to too cold or too warm temperatures; that is why you should always place them in an ideal environment. When your bird is infected with this disease, their white blood cells should be increased.
Egg Binding and Dystocia
The grey-cheek parakeet may have difficulties laying its eggs. A serious condition that is egg binding occurs when the egg can’t pass through to the oviduct; thus, the egg is stuck, and it is fatal if the bird won’t be able to release it. Dystocia is a more serious presentation of egg binding where there is an obstruction to the cloacal functioning; that is why the eggs can’t pass through.
A way to solve it is to inject the bird with a Vitamin D to make use and to absorb calcium efficiently so that the oviduct has the ability to contract more strongly. Aside from the difficulty in laying eggs, the eggs produced tend to have a malformed appearance and that it is a soft-shelled egg.
This is due to the deposited urates into the parakeet’s joints that is a common manifestation if the bird has kidney disease. This is not only visible physically; but there is also visceral gout where it can be visible to the surface of different organs such as the liver, heart and in the nephrons.it is treated through the use of medications used by humans in treating it such as the allopurinol and colchicine
In taking good care of a grey-cheek parakeet, you must instill the value of cleanliness. Most of the common diseases or illnesses happen due to unsanitary environments. As soon as you notice unusual behavior from your pet, don’t hesitate to go to a veterinarian for immediate action.
If you prefer a grey-cheek parakeet to be a captive pet, it is advisable to get a young parakeet so that it can be tamed easier and so that it is still free from serious diseases. They are on the list of the most popular birds in captivity due to their characteristics and attitude.
Availability-Where to Get One
Since this grey-cheek parakeet is classified as an endangered species, it is not always available to different pet trades; and it is not that common to many other countries but when it comes to the United States, they are open for this bird species to be taken as a pet so you can definitely get encounter with breeder that sells grey-cheek parakeet.
How to Care Parrot as a Pet
The cage to be used should be large enough for the feeding dishes, perches, toys, and other toys to fit in. You should also make sure that your bird can freely fly for them to have strong muscles. The ideal cage has dimensions of 24” wide by 18” deep by 24” tall. If you are into breeding them, create a nesting box that is usually situated outside the main cage but is still attached to it; that is why you may need to do some alterations to the cage just to set up an extension nest.
In captivity, your bird is given a wide variety of food combinations of the pellet-based diet with a mix of vegetables and chopped fruits. Be vigilant not to give your bird avocados and chocolate because it may cause sudden death. If you will give them vegetables, make sure that it is thoroughly cooked. There should be specific scheduling when to feed your pet to be followed every day. To support the nutrients and minerals given to them, it is advisable to place a mineral block or cuttlebone in their cage.
The cage should be equipped with things that will keep your bird busy and entertained. There should be perches that are 1/2 to 3/4 inch in diameter; it may come in a real branch or in a steel metal. Give them plenty of toys that are durable and safe for chewing. The water and food bowls should also be separated.
The grey-cheeked parakeet is specified as an endangered species due to the rapid decrease in their population rate. They are facing a threat to their population because of the destruction of their habitat, and irresponsible smuggling for captive birds. The known agency that protects them is the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals or also known as the Bonn Convention.
What does the Body Language of the Grey-cheeked Parakeet?
The grey-cheek parakeet would usually hang on their porch or on the sides of their cage, flapping their wings. Flapping is a way for them to be exercised, but this action is an indication that your pet is bored, and it needs your attention. If your bird does this all the time, you may need to place different kinds of toys or activities in their cage.
The grey-cheek parakeet usually uses its crest to show off what it feels. If the crest is at the back with just the tip sticking out, it means that the bird is contented and relaxed. If their crest is all up while you are playing with it, it means that they are excited and curious bit if the crest is all high, but they are just on their cage, it means that they are in fear and alert. If they are terrified, they will slick their crest down flat.
Fluffing and ruffling
This is a way for them to release tension in the meantime. They also do this after every preening session so that the dirt on their feathers will fall off. If your bird is not feeling well, there will be the dust of powder that will be released after they fluff.
If you are used to scratching your bird’s head on their head and neck, they may put their head down with their feathers in a ruffling motion as you go near them, giving you an indication that they wanted you to scratch their head.
Bowing and bobbing
This is a body language that your bird use to get attention, especially those that are tamed. You may need to be accurate in observing the way your bird bow their head because sometimes it could mean that they are not feeling well due to illness.
The attack stance
When you see your bird in this position, it could mean that they are displaying a sense of aggression and fear. There is no way for them to escape if they are in captivity; they show their uneasiness feeling through their posture.
Do they bond with their owners?
The kind of bond to their owners is through playing sessions with them. If they are properly trained, there is more chance that they can bond with their owners more often.
How do they show their affection to their owners?
They are clingy birds that show their affection to their owners by means of physical contact. They are fond of riding on someone’s shoulders for them to feel secure, and it is a way for them to express that they are comfortable.
Is grey-cheek parakeet noisy?
Despite their small frames, they are noisy, especially when they are happy and excited, but they are moderately loud compared to other parrot species.
Can you train a grey-cheek parakeet?
Grey-cheek parakeets can be trained easily with a limited vocabulary through their gravel-toned voice. Screaming and biting are considered as their bad habits, but it can also be changed through training ad long as they will be trained at an early age.
Is grey-cheek parakeet territorial?
They are often referred to as watch birds because when they see someone whom they do not know going near their cage, they show movements like securing their cage, making them territorial at times.