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Moustache parakeet (Psittacula alexandri)

Endemic to China and Indonesia, this fifteen-inch parrot is named for its moustache-like markings and usually lives for twenty years or more. Males are easily distinguished by their red beaks, while females have duller feathers and black beaks. Younger birds are more difficult to sex because both males and females have a pinkish beak. Some specialists claim that the female can be distinguished by her more evenly curved head, while males have flatter foreheads.

Miko, our first Moustache parakeet, loves almonds. His loud screams let us know if he hasn’t had his daily almond fix. Should we ever run out of almonds, Miko alone would convince us to run to the supermarket. Miko would love a human to sponsor his almond addiction.

Moustache parakeets have a reputation for intelligence and playfulness, and they need a good sized aviary and plenty of toys to keep them occupied. Although they are not as noisy as Ringnecks, they have been described as "feisty." They are also quite outgoing and will try new food that other birds won’t touch. They speak more clearly than Ringnecks, although not as fluently as larger parrots. In the wild this bird is often seen in flocks of twenty or more. Observers often hear these flocks before they can be seen, a testament to their loud voices.

Moustaches mature at between two and three years old. Courtship starts in late winter, with hens begging males to feed them. Breeding between December and April, females lay a clutch of two to four eggs and incubate them for twenty days. Young Moustaches fledge in fifty days. Adults love seeds, and will eat spinach, kale, and dandelions. Apples and grapes are among their favorite treats.

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