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Old 08-24-2010, 05:50 AM
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Companion for Alexandrine? (Hypothetical)

I have a young female alexandrine parakeet, which we call Birdy. I got her for my terminal father as a birthday present to provide him with companionship. Upon making this purchase, I was fully aware that I ultimately would end up with this bird when my father inevitably passes away.

By that time, I hope to be out of college and have my own property, in which case I intend to build her an outdoor aviary. I was inspired to do this after reading about aviary living for parrots, and visiting the Oregon Zoo in Portland to see their lorikeet exhibit. The exhibit is 50 feet by 75 feet, and 20 feet high. It's truly an amazing sight to behold. The birds within it are among the most well-adjusted I have ever seen. You are allowed to walk into the aviary and interact with the birds, and if you happen to have a cup of apple juice, they come right up to you and feed right out of your hand. The aviary mimics their natural habitat, gives them all the room they could possibly want to fly, and allows them to participate in all of their natural behaviors. This is something I want for Birdy. I doubt I would build her an aviary of such great size, but something that would give her plenty of room to fly would be ideal

Now, something that crossed my mind was the idea of possibly getting Birdy a companion. If I were to build her an aviary, I would want it to be as large as possible to permit free flight, and I know that such space would probably permit a second parrot.

Birdy was fortunate in that she knew her parents, and does understand that she is in fact a parrot. She was raised by her mother and father, then taken away a couple weeks before she was weaned, and lived with her sibling for a year in a pet store. She understands that she is a bird and we are humans. I have witnessed her interact with baby birds; she has never been aggressive, although she has been both curious and unsure. However, that's a baby, not an adult. I haven't been able to find much information at all in regards to what I would look for in a second parrot, so I have many questions:

1. In my state, alexandrines are very hard to come by. If I were to get her a companion, I would make an effort to find one from a shelter. However, in Oregon, the only psittacula parrots available in shelters are Indian Ringnecks. From what I have been able to gather, alexandrines and IRNs can coexist peacefully and may even interbreed. Is this true? Would an IRN make an appropriate companion, or should I make an active effort to find another alexandrine?

2. Would it be better to get a male or a female? Would the species of her companion make any difference in the decision of male vs. female?

3. If I did get a male IRN, what are the chances they would successfully breed? Is it possible to prevent this? If so, how?

4. I have read that parrots often revert to wild behavior when placed in a male/female bonded pair setting. However, this generality goes under the assumption that parrots in general are strictly monogamous. Alexandrines and IRNs aren't generally strictly monogamous. So, would this be a problem? Would I have to deal with a hype in seasonal hormonal behavior, such as being attacked upon entering the aviary?

Any information is greatly appreciated. I must emphasize again that this is strictly hypothetical, as such a scenario wouldn't be possible for several years. However, I would like to satisfy my curiosity. Information about psittacula parrots in this regard appears to be surprisingly scarce, despite their long history as pets.
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Old 08-24-2010, 08:24 AM
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Re: Companion for Alexandrine? (Hypothetical)

Welcome to the forum. I also have an Alexandrine. My Max is about 18 months old. I'm going to offer my opinion and a few other bits, but I want to let you know first that I'm in no way an expert on this. I'm basing this on research I've done and experience with my birds.

As for a companion for Birdy, I've read in several places that Alex's make very good aviary birds since they aren't very cuddly birds - like macaws and Greys - and get along with other birds well. My experience with Max has been that he doesn't really dislike our other 2 birds, but he doesn't like them either. But that could be personality driven. He might love another bird just not our two girls.

I've also read that it's often healthier for birds to have a companion. But I don't know how "scientific" that is. They are flock animals, so it makes sense; but like dogs, they will accept humans as their flock, as shown in strong bonds some parrots form with humans.

I don't know that species is as relavent as size. You need to make sure the sizes are compatible because things could get ugly quick if one bird were significantly larger than the other. Personality traits for parrot species are, IMO, very general and like people, they are all individuals. So, Birdy may not ever find another Alex she likes, but may fall in love with a 'tiel.

If she bonds with another bird instead of you, she may not be as handle-able. This could range from not stepping up to trying to take off a finger. I don't really know how to predict this.

There are so many variables it's really hard to say. I don't know that I've been much help, but I hope there's a little bit here that's useful.
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