Hooded Parrots


T he Hooded parrot (Psephotus chrysopterygius dissimilis), is one of the most beautiful of the small Australian parrots. This little bird is actually a subspecies of the Golden Shouldered parrot (Psephotus chrysopterygius).

The adult male is iridescent turquoise blue over the majority of the body, rump and cheeks. The wing patches are bright yellow. The tail, flight feathers

and back are greenish black. Central tail feathers

are tipped in white. The vent feathers are orange-

red. The males have a distinctive black "hood" which extends down the nape and blends into the back. The beak is a silvery gray, and the legs are a soft gray.

The adult female birds have a soft blue-green feathering over most of the body. Only the wings and

tail feathers are olive green. The central tail feath-

ers are tipped in white, and the vent feathers are a light orange-red to salmon colored. The young birds resemble the females in coloration.

Hooded parrots are more commonly bred in captivity in Australia than in the USA. Aviculturists are required to have a license to keep them. Dr. Stephen Garnett and Gabriel Crowley wrote in The Action Plan of Australian Birds for Birds Australia under contract to Environment Australia in June of 2000:

"Another bird many people think is threatened is

the Hooded Parrot of the top end of the Northern Territory. In fact, surveys of the remote Arnhem Land habitat in which it thrives have found it relatively common. Its range may have contracted but it cannot be listed as threatened." (Published in Parrot Society of Australia News Jul/Aug 2000).

The Hooded parrots demonstrate a great desire to nest and reproduce. They make excellent aviary subjects as they are fairly quiet and do not have the 

large space requirements of many other types of parrots. They are also not big chewers, so wood aviaries are an option. Hoodeds are also one of the most beautiful bird species in the world. This is one bird that desperately needs the close attention of captive breeding to increase its numbers. It is hoped that more aviculturists will take up the challenge of breeding this special little bird to insure its survival in captivity. While breeding these birds is not quite as simple as raising budgies or cockatiels, captive breeding is no longer out of reach for the aviculturist.

Hooded parrots have a reputation for being delicate and difficult to breed in captivity. This is true to an extent. They do have specific limits on tolerance for cold weather conditions, and need special housing to compensate. Breeding and survival rate of the chicks can be greatly improved by following some tried and true methods of management.

Birds always seem to do the best when they can be kept in as natural an environment as possible. They feather better and they seem to respond better to breeding stimuli. There are fewer disease problems too. Hoodeds are quite cold sensitive and do best in warm or temperate climates. If you are not living in a warm climate, you will need to make some adjustments to protect the birds during the winter months.

Obviously, keeping them in aviaries outdoors is not a year-round option for people who live in climates where it freezes and snows during the winter. There are a few breeders I know who have some success breeding them in large indoor facilities. However, if the birds can be flighted outside during the summer, they will do much better during the breeding season when brought inside.

for this is that many of the small parrots spend a lot of time on the ground foraging and feeding as part of their natural behavior. They may be finding and eating gravel, minerals, insects or plant materials, which are beneficial. Other breeders prefer to house the birds in suspended cages specifically to prevent 

ingestion of parasites, harmful bacteria, molds or viruses, pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers to name a few. The area where you live makes a difference in what may be beneficial or harmful on the ground. Talk to other breeders and take the time to investigate

the potential problems you may face on your property before exposing the birds. It has always been my personal preference to house Australian par-

rots, particularly the small parakeets, in aviaries with access to the ground. My experience has been that they breed more consistently. However, in Texas for example, this is not a good choice since Fire Ants are such a huge problem.

The typical wood framed or metal-framed aviary for these birds would measure 3' wide, 6' high and 1 O' long. Welded wire in 1 /2" x 1" or 1 /2" x 3" is the standard for most aviaries. You can also use 1/2" x 1/2" wire as the birds are not inclined to chew out of this light-weight mesh; however, it is not strong enough to be used for a suspended cage set-up.

If you plan to house your birds in a suspended cage, choose a wire gauge size heavier than 16. This will insure that the cage will not collapse under its own 

weight. The cage can be hung from chains with mounts in the ceiling beams of a building or from a free-standing frame. Cages can also be fitted with legs that serve as a frame to hold the wire securely in all four corners. Generally, galvanized pipe is chosen as it is more durable than wood, and can be easily sterilized.

There are many styles of frames. Some are attached to each individual cage, and some frames are merely two parallel bars, with a row of cages placed over the top of the two bars. Your specific needs should help make the decision as to what style you prefer to use.

Whether you choose suspended cages or standard aviaries to house your Hoodeds, you will need to provide cover for the feeding stations and the area around the nestbox. If the birds are outside, this protects the food and the nest from exposure to harmful weather conditions. The birds should have a perch

in the covered area for protection and privacy, as well as one in the open area of the cage, where they can sun themselves when the weather permits. If your birds are housed in a building, you may only need to cover the area around the nest box for privacy.

It's a good idea to double wire adjoining cages or aviaries. This will prevent Hooded parrots from attacking other birds, or being attacked through the cage wire. Hoodeds are quite territorial and will defend their aviary and cage space vehemently all year long. It's not unusual for the males to attack and chew toes of other male Hoodeds if within reach.

Ne s tboxe s

The preferred nest box for Hoodeds is a grandfather clock style and is quite small. The boxes measure approximately 6" x 6" x 18" deep. The boxes are made out of wood and hang on the outside of the cages or inside for a walk-in aviary. The inspection hole should be placed at the back for a box hung on the outside of a cage. The inspection hole should be placed on the side of the box for one to be hung in an aviary.

Br e e ding a n d Ne s ting

With proper care and handling, a pair of Hooded parrots should be able to produce from four to six babies per clutch, two to three times per year. You will of course have to pull babies in for handfeeding or foster eggs to achieve these kinds of numbers.