The Polytelis species consists of 3 species: the superb parrot, the regent parrot and the princess of Wales parrot, all well known at the breeders. These 3 species have a very peaceful nature and are very useful in flock aviaries. General information
The Polytelis species can be held with softbills, canaries, different Neophema species, cockateils, kakarikis and other peaceful parrots. Due to their tolerant nature, these species are often placed next to more aggressive birds such as the Platycercus and Psephotus species. This way combats at the wiring between these fighting spirited parrots can be avoided.
The 3 species are featured by their very long tail of which the tailfeathers narrow at the end, tapering off to a point (= elongated tip). All 3 parrots have a red coloured bill and the feathering/plumage is dominated by the colour green. The Polytelis species are about 40 cm. Being very fast flyers, each of these species should better be provided with a spacious aviary. My Polytelis species are housed in an aviary which is 4 to 5 m long, 1,2 m wide and 2 m high, also containing a frostfree interior box . The birds have adjusted themselves well to our climate and are very strong birds. I have an aviary partially provided with sand that is regularly refreshed. The birds love staying in the sandy section on several occasions.
The aviary’s minimum dimensions for housing a pair musn’t be smaller than 3.5 metre long x one metre wide x 2 metre high. However if smaller they might put on some extra weight quickly and the chances of breeding young decreases. Worming:
Because the birds love staying in the sandy section, these species are very vulnerable to worm infestation. Therefore they should be wormed regularly. I worm my birds with Ripercol. A good description of this agent is mentioned in an earlier article of mine (Timor red-winged parrot).
These species breed about the end of March till April. The female lays four to nine eggs which it keeps on brooding for 19 days. During this brooding period the male feeds its female. But from time to time the female leaves the nest to stool. This mainly happens in the morning and at nightfall.
In my previous articles, you’ve already read how I feed my birds.
It briefly comes to this: I feed them a self made seed mix of little sunflower, lots of canary grass seed, various millets and weed seeds, oats, wheat and some hemp; various fruit and vegetables, particularly carrot and apple; rose-hips, rowan berries; greenfood (chickweed, dandelion etc.); egg and insect softfood as well as a few sprouted sunflower for rearing.
During the breeding period and in the colder months I provide them with more sunflower to supply extra fats. Two weeks before the breeding season starts, I give them some hemp to stimulate the birds’s mood for breeding.
Thrice a week my birds are fed with sproited seed. Every day the drinking water is refreshed.
Daily all my birds get a mixture of eggfood consisting of a variety of three kinds of eggfood, ground white bread, couscous, beeryeast, the necessary vitamins and minerals, moistened by a rasped carrot or apple during the breeding period.
Furthermore you’d better provide them a daily mixture of fruit varying each day. A blend containing either apples, oranges, cucumbers, carrots, peppers, bananas, kiwis, nuts, red beet, rose hip, grapes, dandelions, greedily absorbed, as well as halfripe corn cob and wild grass.
Sepia (white shelp 15 centimetres), jodiumstones and a mixture of three kinds of grit (oystergrit, sharp stomage grit and the classic grit) may never be left out. Don’t forget that the birds are very fond of name in English not known but(= the yellow 15 centimetres thing with millet seeds in it). Regularly giving the parrots fresh fruittree or willow branches is a good remedy against them feeling bored and helps them pass their time agreeably.
Starting from October it’s advisable to supply wheatgerm(seed)oil (?=tarwekiemolie), one of the ingredients of a mixture of seeds. And on a weekly basis eggfood should be fed till the first egg has been laid. This strategy should enable the old as well as the young females to lay eggs without any difficulties.
The Polytelis species don’t often bathe. They prefer to sit in the rain. Or even better, they’ll patiently wait to be sprayed, enjoying this washing with their feathers spread out. These species are no gnawers, so an aviary made out of wood is no problem at all. Nevertheless they can be offered fresh fruittrees or willow twigs and in winter fir cones .
Mostly the breeding can be started with when the bird turns 3 years old. Sometimes they already breed the first or second year. When they’re still young you can have them choose their partner among several other birds of their own species. It gives them the opportunity to find their own partner themselves. This method has already proven to render the best breeding pairs.
The regent and the superb parrot make good foster parents. Without any difficulties they rear with members of the Alisterus species and Red winged crimson parrots.
During the courtship the female frequently makes begging sounds. The male then often feeds the female.
The Polytelis species can easily live till the age of twenty-five.
Because of their peaceful behaviour these parrots are fit for any colony breeding or flock breeding.
Keeping a variety of Polytelis species, stimulates the process of breeding. They’ll call and this will only stimulate breeding.
Ring: the prescribed ring-size for the 3 species is 6,17 mm.
1. Regent parrot
- French: Perruche mélanure, or Perruche Rock Pebbler
- Dutch: Bergparkiet
- German: Bergsittich
- Scientifical: Polytelis anthopeplus
1.1 Polytelis a. anthopeplus
- Male:general plumage yellow; back olive-green; broad red band across inner wing-coverts; outer wing-coverts and tail bluish-black; bill reddish; skin to narrow periophthalmic ring grey; iris orange-brown; feet grey.
- Female: with olive-green head and breast; upper wing-coverts olive-yellow with little red; tail dark bluish-green; underside with pink tips.
- Immatures as female; young males attain adult plumage from 13 to 18 months.
- Length: 40 cm
- Distribution: interior of southeast Australia.
1.2 Polytelis a. westralis
Western Rock Pebbler
- Description: as anthopeplus, but head and breast deeper olive-green; on average slightly smaller.
- Female and immatures as anthopeplus.
- Length: 38 cm
- Distribution: southwest Australia.
- Weight: ± 170 grammes.
For the last years the regent parrot can be found at more breeders than was the case before. This because of the eagerly desired new mutation pastel. Plenty of discussions about inheritance have already taken place. Some breeders say that it’s a 100 % dominant inheritance. With only one mutant the birdlover can lay down the mutation. Others claim that it’s all about a sex-linked mutation. This means that with just one split male the mutation can already be established. A third group however declares that it isn’t but about recessive inheritance. In this case the male and female split form the foundations for the mutation.
Furthermore it’s thought that a Regent Parrot with yellow back and a pied mutation are to inherit that dominance. In Australia a red Regent Parrot has been recorded and here in the Benelux a red pied parrot is said to have been localised! In Denmark a new mutation has shortly been discovered. It’s the blue regent parrot which has the same blue colour just as the princess of Wales parrot. Apparently numerous mutations will arise throughout the years.
The Regent Parrot needs a vertical nestbox 30 x 30 x 40 cm with a 9cm entrance hole. A log is also appropriate as lice, mites and other vermin don’t favour it at all. Besides such nests are much better isolated. Here too the birds can pick out of two nestboxes. Make sure that no sunlight can directly shine into the entrance hole, because the bird doesn’t like this. The floor is preferably covered with about 8 cm peat , mixed with wood-shavings , chopped beech moistened with some water.
In front of the entrance hole a light wooden board which the female can gnaw at till being able to enter the nestbox should likely be attached. The male putting its shoulders more broadly than the female can’t get into the nestbox. The latter helps the female fleeing from the male’s whims whenever necessary.
When starting to breed the parrots should have clean, disinfected nests at their disposal.
It enlarges the young’s chances of surviving. There are various harmful mould, bacteria, viruses and lice who might put the birds lives in danger. It’s advisable to ask your vet which disinfectant agent to use. Personally I prefer Virkon. This product destroys bacteria, mould and viruses, which dettol and a bleaching chemical don’t entirely take care of. Besides Virkon may be used in the immediate presence of the birds. Another way to obtain a clean and disinfected nest is to spray diluted eucalyptus into the aviary. Surely recommendable!
Eucalyptus stimulates the breathing, and smells of the Polytelis species homeland. There it often and gladly spends a lot of time in eucalyptus trees. At the same time mice frequently spotted in aviaries, simply detest eucalyptus. The latter is to be bought at nature shops or establisments who directly sell it to breeders.
The Regent parrot breeds round April. The female lays four till seven eggs brooding it all by herself during eighteen to twenty-one days. After forty-two days the young fledge and after another they’ve become independent. The birdlover can safely leave the young with the parents as it’s a completely unharmful situation.
A second laying of eggs is possible but rather very unusual.
Foster parents: The regent parrot is the ideal foster parent for kingparrots, crimson red-winged parrot and other Polytelis species.
a problem common with this species is the inflammation of the eyes.(= sore eyes?) Terramycine eye ointment may help solve this annoyance, but a vet should definitely be contacted if results stay out. Besides injections he’ll also supply the treated parrot medicines to put into its drinking water. A widely used medicine is Doxyvit, this is a yellowish powder. Quite often the inflammation of the eyes starts by changing the bird’s environment, providing stressful situations and supplying it an unbalanced diet. Always take good care of clean water and food containers. Give it daily fresh drinking water and that portion of food it can just manage to absorb for the day. This way the bird will enable itself to take in all necessary matters protecting it against diseases. By only filling the containers, the bird will only eat or drink what it favours.
2. Princess of Wales
- French: Perruche Princesse de Galles
- Dutch: Princess of Wales Parkiet
- German: Princess of Wales Sittich
- Scientifical: Polytelis alexandrae
- Male: olive-green; crown and nape slightly bluish; forehead, throat and cheeks pinkish-red; breast and abdomen bluish-green; upper tail-coverts and rump violet-blue; under tail-coverts olive-yellow; back and wings pale olive-green; wing-coverts bright yellowish-green; third primary with elongated spatule tip to feather; tail underside blackish with pinkish-red inner webs; bill reddish; skin to narrow periophthalmic ring grey; iris orange; feet grey.
- Female with paler crown and greyish-blue upper tail-coverts; third primary without elongated tip; wing-coverts more greenish; tail on average shorter.
- Immatures as female; young males attain full adult plumage from 14 to 18 months; often begin early with courtship display behaviour (singing, dilating and contracting pupils)
- Length: 40 cm
- Distribution: interior of central and west Australia
- Weight: ± 92 grammes.
Till recently this parrot used to be very popular, mainly due to its various mutations from the past. Its eggs were plainly laid under other parrots and the young mutants were sold for considerable sums of money. Today however the prices of these mutants have devaluated enormously which has caused a lack of interest in these species with a certain group of breeders.
Another reason why the Princess of Wales suffers from inpopularity is the fact that it takes its daily ‘afternoon-nap’. As this nap may take longer than might be expected, the parrot gives the impression of being a sick bird.
The mutations well known at the moment are: the blue with a recessive inheritance, the lutino and the albino. In Australia a red specimen has apparently been recorded. There’s also talk about the existence of a pastel one, this is a paler green-yellow form with red eyes. The red pied on the other hand isn’t a mutation but a modification. A number of the latter can be found but it often happens that they lose their red colour after moulting or the colour red simply vanishes after some years.
I’ve already seen albino and lutino who aren’t bigger than a redback, which is quite an alarming matter as the model and type however should never be lost out of sight!
With a lot of breeders the Princess of Wales has caused plenty of disappointments. Either lots of eggs were laid, but many of them broken or left unbrooded or either young weren’t fed or either French moulting (t.i. feather problems) etc. According to me these sort of problems have diminished nowadays. The Princess of Wales is a parrot which requires the breeder’s utmost patience. A pair that produced young the year before, isn’t fit to breed the next year. Being put into another aviary, having other neighbours, having a new diet or any other circumstance might just be the cause of the previous described difficulty.
The Princess of Wales parrot needs a horizontal nestbox or a nestbox that is placed diagonal. The measurements are 60 x 20 x 20 cm with an entrance hole of 7 cm diameter. A log is also good but you have to place it diagonal because the female dares to let itself fall upon the eggs. As far as the nestbox is concerned, I hereby gladly refer to the article I wrote about the regent parrot
The Princess breed about the second half of March. The female lays about four to seven eggs which it broods all by herself for about eighteen to twenty days. After thirty-five to forty days the young fledge. After about four weeks they’re indepent. Just as the young regent the young Princess can safely stay with its parents. The young bird has its complete adult plumage after approximately one year.
Foster parrot: The Princess of Wales parrot is not a good foster parrot for other species, unlike the regent and the superb parrot, which will be dealt with later on in this article.
The Princess is a very calm and tame. The male can call rather loudly. Whenever there are several couples, the males stimulate one and another for calling the loudest. The latter’s behaviour may cause some problems with the breeder’s neighbours. The Princess’s call isn’t definitely as loud as that of the Asian or South-American parrots. It surely isn’t screaming, but you may belong to the few having some neighbours who just can’t stand the crowing of a cock or the barking of a dog somewhere in the country. You’d better be warned!
3. Superb parrot
- French: Perruche de Barraband
- Dutch: Barraband parkiet
- German: Schildsittich or Barrabandsittich
- Scientifical: Polytelis swainsonii
- Male: green; nape with slight bluish tinge; forehead, throat and cheeks yellow; red band on breast; outer webs of primaries blue; tail underside blackish; bill reddish; skin to narrow periophthalmic ring grey; iris orange-yellow; feet grey.
- Female without red and yellow plumage; face area pale bluish-green; chin and throat grey-green; thigh orange-yellow; iris yellow.
- Immatures as female; iris brown; young males attain adult plumage at 6 to 9 months. The young male has a bright green head. Whenever you hold it against the light the colour shows off nicely. Sometimes you may also detect a yellowish glance on the head. The young female on the other hand has a greygreen head. Another way to distinct the male from the female is not only the colour but also the form of the head. A round shaped head is typical for the male whereas a flat one belongs to the female. When arranging a couple it’s recommended to choose from complete nests; four males won’t make females. An experienced breeder will very swiftly compose a couple from a complete nest. After six months a first 100 % certainty of the gender can be defined by the colour of the iris. After approximately one year the young male starts to show yellow feathers. Being two years old the young have obtained their adult plumage
- Length: 40 cm
- Weight: Male between 133 and 157 grammes. For the female is this 150 grammes
- Distribution: interior of New South Wales and northern Victoria.
I have seen beautiful photos of a lutino superb parrot from Australia. Furthermore I have seen the pied one in the Netherlands. And there are rumours of a pastel and blue mutation in the wild, but there are no records of them.
The superb parrot breeds about the second half of April, May. The female lays four to seven eggs, which it broods all by herself during twenty days. The young are ringed (= closed bagued?) with a 6,5 cm diameter ring. After 30 to 35 days the young fledge. Another 4 weeks later they have become independent. They can easily stay with the parents without any harmful results.
A second laying is possible but rather exceptional.
During courting the male attempts to sit next to the female. The male raises the headfeathers, and puts the rest of the feathers against its body, spreads its wings partially and pulls its pupils. Then it starts walking up and down while twittering. The female squats down the perch, raises its headfeathers, partially spreads its wings and heaves a beggar- call softly to which the male starts to feed the female and the pairing can begin.
The superb parrot can easily breed till the age of 25. My father used to have a couple that succeeded in actually breeding young till the former mentioned age. This couple’s number of young decreased after the age of 20, but the last time the male gave its female, being the same age, fertilized eggs, it was 25 years old. Eventually this same male died at the age of 27.
Several pairs of superb parrots definitely stimulate eachother to start breeding!
Foster parent: The superb parrot is an ideal foster parent for the Alisterus, crimson red-winged parrot and other Polytelis species. My superb parrots have reared four young of their own together with two king parrot young without any difficulties at all.
The superb parrot too can often take long naps in the afternoon; it’s just part of the bird’s character. The birdlover however should therefore always observe its state of health closely. Whenever this parrot’s flight starts to weaken or it begins to sleep on both legs – a healthty bird always sleeps on one – you may be sure it is ill. A disease characteristic to the superb parrot but also the regent parrot is the sudden arising of paralysis of the legs (=pootverlamming in dutch), mostly caused by stress, but also by an unbalanced diet. I personnally have had to deal with such an incident concerning a 4 year old female regent parrot of mine. The period just before pairing it all of a sudden was caught by this disease. I immediately visited the vet who gave the parrot the injections and medicines necessary. Nevertheless my quick interference the bird was not to recover. Its legs stayed irreparable paralyzed. This disease may occur, but not frequently. However it shouldn’t make you hesitate to purchase the superb parrot.
The three mentioned Polytelis species in this article are without any doubt very lovely birds. They are ideal species for those who love having peaceful birds in a flock aviary.