Because of their small size, beauty and intelligence, green-cheeked parakeets are very popular as pets and have won the hearts of many bird lovers. Their curiosity, enthusiasm, and playful nature are great qualities for a companion bird. Green-cheeked parakeets are mischievous and friendly and pack a lot of personality in a small package. The fact that they are less noisy than most other parrots and more affordable makes them even more appealing.
COMMON NAMES: green-cheeked parakeet, green-cheeked parakeet, yellow-cheeked parakeet, green-cheeked parrot.
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Pyrrhura molinae with six subspecies with slight variations: P. molinae australis, P. m. molinae, P. m. phoenicura, P. m. restricta, P. m. flavoptera, P. m. hypoxantha.
ADULT SIZE: One of the smallest of the budgerigar species, measuring about 25 centimeters in length and weighing two to three ounces.
LIFE EXPECTATION: It can live more than 30 years in captivity.
Origin and history
The green-cheeked parakeet is native to South America and is commonly found in the forests and jungles of Brazil, Bolivia, Argentina, and Paraguay. It usually lives in flocks of 10 to 20 birds in the treetops or in larger flocks where there is more food.
What is a parakeet?
The term parakeet refers to a diverse group of small to medium-sized parakeets and parrots typically found in the Western Hemisphere. These birds are characterized by their colorful plumage and playful nature and are often kept as pets.
Green-cheeked parakeets are popular companion birds. They are affectionate and playful and enjoy spending time with their owners. Like all birds, green-cheeked parakeets can sometimes be biting and uncooperative, but overall they are one of the most social parakeet species. Although most do not talk, green-cheeked parakeets can be trained well and are known to be quick learners. They can learn simple tricks. Most owners say that their great personalities make up for their lack of language ability.
Speech and vocalization
Although quieter than most budgie species, this species can still be a noisy bird, which can be a problem for apartment dwellers. Some may learn a few words, but green-cheeked parakeets are not generally known as great talkers.
Colors and markings of green-cheeked parakeets
Males and females have identical coloration. Green-cheeked parakeets have a wide variety of colors in their plumage: bright red feathers on the tail and chest, bright green feathers on the back and wingtips, olive green feathers around the red spot on the chest, a whitish ring around the neck, black plumage on the head and olive green spots on the cheeks. Their long, pointed tail is usually blue or maroon. They have black bills and legs and have bald white rings around their eyes.
Several color varieties have been selectively bred in captivity, including turquoise, yellow-faced, cinnamon, and pineapple budgies.
Care of the green-cheeked parakeet
Although the beauty and brains of the green-cheeked parakeet make it an attractive potential pet, the truth is that not everyone can properly care for a parakeet or any other bird. Parrots are a big commitment, requiring daily exercise and socialization, a steady supply of fresh food each day, and space for their large cage and flying activities.
A green-cheeked parakeet may not need as much space as a larger parrot, but it will still need an enclosure at least 24 inches square and 30 inches high, with metal bars spaced 1/2 to 3/4 inch apart. Provide several perches that are at least nine inches long and 1/2 inch in diameter – different perch sizes will help keep your parrot’s legs moving.
A green-cheeked parakeet will pair well with other green-cheeked parakeets, but don’t keep it with other species of birds. If you house more than one bird in a cage, be sure to increase the cage size per bird. The more birds housed together, the larger the cage should be.
In the wild, the green-cheeked parakeet lives in a flock. However, as a pet, it needs a lot of contact with you. Expect that your bird will need to spend two to four hours a day outside the cage for exercise and occupancy.
General health problems
All parakeets are prone to feather plucking, which usually occurs due to boredom or neglect of the birds. Several common parrot diseases can affect these birds, including Proventricular Dilation Disease (PDD), a disease of the nervous system; Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD), a deadly virus; Psittacosis, a bacterial infection; Beak Malposition; and Aspergillosis, a fungal infection. Have your bird examined regularly by an avian veterinarian to catch problems early, as they can be easily treated.
Diet and Nutrition
In the wild, green-cheeked parakeets feed on fruits, vegetables, seeds, and occasionally insects. Captive parrots should be fed a similar diet. To ensure optimal health, you should feed your parakeet a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, supplemented with high-quality pelleted food. An easy way to incorporate a variety of fresh foods is the chopping concept, which involves preparing a pre-made salad mix.
Exercise is extremely important for green-cheeked parakeets, as it is for all parrots. In the wild, these birds can fly many miles a day in search of food, a mate, or a nesting site. It can be difficult to achieve this in captivity, but if you can devote at least two hours a day to exercise and play outside the cage for your parakeet, your bird will likely remain healthy and happy. A useful way to meet this lifestyle requirement is to purchase a cage with a play structure on top of the cage. This can be a safe place for them to spread their wings during supervised exercise time.
- Social and friendly
- Intelligent, can be taught tricks
- Quieter than other parrots
- While not as noisy, they can still be loud and may not be suitable for apartments.
- Requires at least two to four hours of exercise and social interaction
Where can you adopt or buy a green-cheeked parakeet?
Before buying a parakeet from a bird store or breeder, check out shelters and rescue organizations. Although these friendly, low-maintenance parakeets are not usually available for adoption, there are instances when owners need to surrender their birds. Some adoption or rescue sites that may have green-cheeked parakeets are :
- Parrot Partners
- Adopt a pet
The Beauty of Birds is an organization that maintains a directory of reputable parrot breeders in the United States. When considering a bird breeder, interview the breeder, check the overall health of their birds, investigate living conditions, and talk to previous clients. Signs to avoid in a breeder include cramped living conditions, inactive birds, and breeders who dodge your questions or don’t seem to know much about their birds.