Parakeet morning

The tuneful but loud whistles of a Himalayan whistling-thrush woke me on my last morning in Almora. It was sitting in the balcony. The sun had not yet risen. I lay in bed enjoying the beautiful song of the bird. It used to be called the truant schoolboy once for its joyful whistling. The Family was in deep sleep, but I found that I was fully awake. I slipped on a jacket, and stepped into the balcony with my camera. The thrush was still whistling on a tree nearby. A great barbet called from far away, and in front of me plum-headed parakeets (Psittacula cyanocephala) wheeled in the sky, with their cheerful pinging calls.

I don’t see these birds very often. The male has a dark red-purple and the female a blue-grey head. The darker collar of the male and its red shoulder patch, the yellow neck of the female, the bright yellow upper beak, and the long blue tail with a yellow tip are other things to look for. The light was still fairly bad, but I took some photos anyway. They might not be there later. Taking photos disciplines my attention. I might not have caught the courtship feeding otherwise.

Since males and females are so easy to tell apart, even a casual observer like me can see a certain organization in the pack. First, the packs are mixed, but the sexes generally segregate when they come to rest. I wondered whether this is generally true, or even true of other species of parakeets. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find many studies of the social organization of parakeet flocks. The only paper I found was almost a century old and had studied pecking order in a different species of parakeets. The observations showed a lack of strict pecking hierarchy. It would be strange if no one is studying parakeet societies. When I look out of the window, they seem to be as intelligent and social as crows.

By I. J. Khanewala

I travel on work. When that gets too tiring then I relax by travelling for holidays. The holidays are pretty hectic, so I need to unwind by getting back home. But that means work.

23 comments

  1. How lovely it is to be able to see these beautiful and colorful birds right from your balcony. In my place, it’s usually modest sparrows that occasionally say hello to me from outside the window. You observed a particularly interesting scene there, I.J. Surprisingly no study has been done on it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. One of my abiding memories of my stay in the foothills of the Western Ghats was being awoken by the whistling thrush. How I loved it! Yet I never saw one. ‘Truant schoolboy’ describes it so exactly.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Those plum-headed parakeets are a new species to me and I love how they look. I wonder if some of them would like to move into our London suburb alongside their ring-necked cousins?!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, aren’t they beautiful! I look forward to traveling again some day and seeing more birds of the world. I had a pair of pine siskins yesterday, I think, and they were lovely. Did not get a shot.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What a way to wake up! It’s awesome seeing birds when you are on a trip because it is such a wonderful surprise. You captured those two beautifully! Maybe you should start a paper with your observations. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m studying it at my own pace. My goal is to see as many different species as I can before I die. I suppose if I had the money, I would go back to school. I’m getting closer to retirement and just want to travel and go birding. πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

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