Princess of Wales Parakeets Sleeping Beauties of Aviculture


W:hen the 1994 bird breedng season began I never dreamed I would be raising Princes of Wales Parakeets. At an early spring bird mart I found a proven Princess hen that was so beautiful I had to bring her home.

Pictures do nor do justice to the beauty of the hues of this species. Princess of Wales have a delicate dove shaped head with a blue-gray cast on the crown and a small coral bill. The breast is a bright rosy pink which smartly contrasts with the lime green scalloping on the wing covens. The back and tail are an olive green -while the rump is a blue gray. The belly is a silvery green and the thighs have a pink edging. Finally, the primary flights are a muted blue. When you see these birds you think of an artist's pastels. These birds have incredibly long tails which have a pink edging. Overall length of the bird can reach 18 inches. The body lines are graceful and elegant.

Males and females are sexually dimorphic at one year of age. The hens tend to have more muted colors and often shorter tails. The males have sparulate tips on the third primaries which may grow up to one inch. This charac-teristic is ve1y easy to identify.

At any rate, I brought the hen home and put her in a quarantine cage in my bedroom. Although a parent raised aviary bird, she was quite gregarious with us-lovingto be talked to and calling to the other birds in the house. She tolerated my two year old son and the vacuum sweeper quite well.

In fact, she was so comfortable in her new home that she started laying eggs on the cage floor. It was obvious that this bird needed a mate and I began my search. I called Florida, Georgia, New jersey, Texas, and California. I seemed that everyone I talked to was looking for breeder birds themselves or they had babies which were already spoken for. In all my conversations I never heard one derogatory comment regarding this species. Numerous breeders told me that of all the various psittacines they had raised, the Princess of Wales rated as one of the sweetest species.

I finally located a mature male in California from a highly recommended breeder of Australian keets and finches. Meanwhile, my hen continued to faithfully lay an egg every other day. When the male arrived and was placed in the same room with the hen it was love at first sight. Despite his cross country plane ride he immediately began to display valiantly.

The pair was set up in a flight cage measuring 6 ft. x 2 ft. about 3 feet off the floor.A woodenL-shapedbootboxwith the dimensions of 24 in. x 12 in. x 24 in. was hung outside the flight. A 4 in. layer of untreated pine shavings was added. Princess of Wales are notorious "hoppers." They will routinely jump straight down from perches up to 18 in. above the ground. Consequently, they may jump straight down onto their eggs if given a square or grandfather clock box. Therefore, a Z box is often recommended for this species. Unfortunately, they are hard to come by and even harder to make. To me a boot box could also circumvent this problem as well as provide better accommodation for the hen'slongtail.Anaturalwoodperchwas placed adjacent to the nest box. Another large branch with multiple forks to aid perching during copulation was also provided. The pair was given free standing Petamine, cuttlebone, Pretty Bird and Lafeber mini pellets, and a small hookbili seed mix. Also, fresh produce was given daily- apples, grapes, corn on the cob, oranges, celery, squash, sweet potato, beans and legumes. Scrambled eggs with shells, and baby cereal were fed every other day.

As soon as the birds were introduced the male began his courtship display which is quite elaborate and amusing to watch. There is much eye blazing and fluffing of the head feathers -which culminates in an odd clicking sound. Also, the male would repeat a two-tone bell call and would jump down on the flight floorto bow and prance. I only observed the pair mating once and this was done on the flight floor rather than on a branch. The hen was soon in the nest box and was heard making begging cries. Within 48 hours of their initial pairing the first egg was found.