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Lineolated Parakeet in Cobalt Blue, Our Newest Bird
Acquired Sunday, a cobalt blue Lineolated parakeet.
Call me "Mr. Blue." Looking for a yellow hen.
I decided to try Lineolated Parakeets and this pretty boy is
my first. A lovely cobalt blue.
Unfortunately, before he came to us he lived in a room with
Lovebirds. And, since Linnies are great mimics, he can sound like them. Typically Linnie's aren't supposed to be loud, but sadly he sometimes yells like a Lovebird.
My preference for indoor birds is that they be quiet — my
hearing is very good and anything loud is difficult to endure. My favorite birds are
still Bourke parakeets.
I hope "Mr. Blue," as we call him,
will begin to mimic the Bourkes and Lady Gouldians and forget about the Lovebirds
— now many miles away. He tries to talk and seems to say, "pretty
bird," and he can wolf whistle. His greatest achievement however is mimicking
our new puppy!
If I hear the puppy cry (he's still a baby), I go running to
check on him. More often than not it's the Linnie. He can sound exactly like our new
The author of the article reproduced below on Lineolated
Parakeets is posted with the author's permission. A lifelong bird breeder
extraordinaire, he is now retired and prefers to avoid any more publicity that might lead to more contacts. I'm so grateful he's
been willing to impart some of his wisdom to me over past years.
Originally published in the 2000 Convention Proceedings of
the American Federation of Aviculture.
“Of the various
smaller parrots and parakeets that I've been privileged to keep and breed over
the last 56 years, the charming little Barred, or as it is more commonly
referred to in the U.S, the Lineolated Parakeet has become one of my favorites.
The name Barred Parakeet was apparently given due to the fact that there is a
distinct black barring on the feathers of all colors except the lutino and
cream albino mutations.
My first experience with the species was in 1957, when I was
able to purchase 4 birds from a dealer in South California. I was told at the
time that they had been captive bred. I later learned that these were probably
contraband birds, and were almost certainly l. lineola from Mexico. These 4
birds eventually died, without reproducing.
I did not personally encounter the species again until 1992,
when I was able to acquire some domestic-bred stock from Europe, through a
broker in California, of the l. tigrinus subspecies. These birds have proven
quite easy to breed, and have been very prolific. The have the wonderful
characteristics of being both quiet and steady pets, while readily learning to
mimic human speech, and whistle tunes. We have had several start to whistle
tunes before they were completely weaned from hand-feeding!
Even though some people believe this species to be visually
dimorphic, in that there is supposed to be more black present in the central
tail feathers of the male bird, I have not found this method of sexing to be
always reliable. When I first started working with this species, I
"lost" an entire season with 2 pairs, due to improper pairing by the
visual guidelines given. I now always DNA sex them to be certain. I would
certainly recommend that others do the same. With the modern technology
available to us today, there is no longer any reason, or excuse, to guess about
the sex of any bird!
The Lineolated is a very peaceful bird, both with its own
kind and other non-aggressive species. I have been told that in European
aviaries, it is not uncommon to view them in a mixed environment containing
finches, canaries, and neophema grass parakeets.
A Lineolated playing with a baby Amazon parrot.
Although I have never personally tried it, I know of at
least one Aviculturist here in the U.S. that has had good results breeding the
Lineolated in a colony setting. As with other species, it would be advisable to
supply at least 3 boxes for every 2 pairs of birds, when breeding in a colony.
These little birds do not seem particularly "fussy" about their nest
boxes, and I know of people who breed them in standard Budgie nests. Since I
have been fortunate enough to see pictures of European breeding facilities, we
have chosen the horizontal style nest box that is sometimes used for Budgies,
but is more often favored by many breeders of Parrotlets. This is the style
that seems to be preferred by the more successful breeders in Europe.
For breeding cages, we have found 14" x 14" x 36"
long to be quite ample and comfortable for this species. The nest is positioned
at one end, on the outside of the cage, to facilitate easy inspection. As is
the custom with us, for all species bred in cages, the birds are separated by
sex and allowed to live and exercise in larger flights during the
Even though we have never experienced problems with this
species accepting mates that are chosen for them, it seems reasonable to assume
that breeding results could be further enhanced by allowing them to choose
their own partners. This, of course, is often not possible when working with
color mutations, and smaller groups of birds. There are, many times, simply not
enough unrelated birds available to a smaller breeder to make natural selection
a viable option. I do firmly believe, however, that with any species natural
selection, if it can be allowed, will result in increased positive breeding
This species has the fascinating habit, when nesting, of
using coconut or palm fiber to make their nests more private, and presumably
more comfortable to occupy. They seem to like a very thin layer of pine
shavings in the bottom of the box for starters. Since the boxes already have a
concave in the bottom, I only add about ½" of shavings. I have had people
tell me that they have problems with their birds burying eggs. We have never experienced
this problem. I can only guess that they are putting too many shavings in the
box. Also, it is possible that they are simply disturbing the birds too much!
If they are given additional materials, in the form of coconut or palm fibers
to work with, they will create a dome of sorts over the actual nest cavity
where the eggs are deposited. Some pairs save enough to place in front of the
entrance when they are inside, rather like closing the door behind them! I feel
that this habit further demonstrates their need and desire for privacy, and
reinforces my theory that nest inspections should be kept to a minimum.
With regards to nest inspection, the protocol we observe
with the Lineolateds is the same as with all species. Nests are checked once
each week, usually on the same day, until the first egg or eggs are observed.
The records are then noted, and further inspection is delayed until after the
eggs should have started hatching. I believe the incubation period to be 18 to
21 days, depending on how soon incubation actually starts after the first egg
is produced. Some hens seem to "set tight" immediately, while others
will wait until 2 or 3 eggs are in the nest. Over the years, I have found these
variables to be true with several species. It is a bit difficult to be precise,
since I do not believe these birds should be disturbed daily for unnecessary
Thanks to the skillful handling of these little charmers in
European breeding programs, there are now several lovely color mutations
Currently, we are working with lutino, cream albino, cobalt,
sky blue, mauve or slate, and cinnamon.
Dark green and green Lineolated parakeets.
Young green and cinnamon Lineolated parakeets.
I have seen photos of some very nice pied birds in the past,
but have been informed that this may be due to age and dietary inconsistencies,
and are not to be considered true mutations at this point in time. The pictures
I've seen were all of green pied birds. I can only imagine how lovely a nice
blue, or mauve pied might be! In this species, as with most species, the lutino
and cream albino mutations are sex-linked, and the blues are recessive. The
mauve or slate is dominant.
Since they are comparable in size to Lovebirds, the
Lineolateds are perfect candidates for pets in a small home or apartment. They
are absolutely ideal for that situation where space is restricted, and excess
noise is a problem. They are in fact, in my opinion, much more desirable for a
pet than a Lovebird. It can honestly be said that they have even more
attributes, and virtually none of the drawbacks of the Lovebird family. They
have soft voices, which they readily use to mimic human speech and whistle. It
has also been our experience that they have far fewer tendencies to nip or bite
than the average Lovebird, upon reaching the age of sexual maturity.
FOUND THEM TO BE CONSISTENTLY CHARMING AND AFFECTIONATE PETS! When removed from
the parents for hand feeding at 2-3 weeks of age, they grow into enchanting
pets that seem never to be offensively noisy and loud. They learn to
"speak" readily, with incredible clarity, and learn to whistle tunes
with very little coaching! One little girl I've kept as a personal pet, mimics
the beeping of the microwave so convincingly I've often asked my assistant what
is in the oven?!
Blue and cobalt Lineolated parakeets.
These wonderful little birds are relatively easy to care for
with regards to diet. Since I am a firm and passionate believer in a varied
diet for all birds, I perhaps make it a bit more difficult than is actually
necessary! The "Linnies" in our aviaries are provided with a good
small seed mix of canary, millet, niger, buckwheat, hemp and paddy rice. To
this seed mix is added a small pelleted food, making the total seed content of
the mix about 60% and pellets or crumbles about 40%. We use pellets or crumbles
that are of the size intended for consumption by Cockatiels and smaller
hookbills. There are many brands to choose from that I have found to be quite
similar in nutritional content. Cuttlebone and a good mineralized grit mixture
containing oyster shells is always provided.
A germinated mix, consisting of black oil sunflower,
safflower, red wheat, whole oats, (NOT GROATS) paddy rice, sometimes simply
called un-hulled rice, and buckwheat is also given daily. Chopped apples and
thawed frozen peas are added to the germinated mix each day, and broccoli
florets seem to also be appreciated in small quantities. We adjust the portions
of each food offered according to the variable demands of each pair of breeding
birds. When a pair of birds of any species is feeding young, we observe closely
to determine their dietary preferences, and feed each pair accordingly. Upon
close observation, it will usually be obvious that their preferences change as
the youngsters grow and progress. During the breeding season, the germinated
portions are increased, and the dry portions are reduced.
As per information obtained from European breeders, a good
egg food mix is given daily during the breeding season. I also like to provide
a small dish of Petamine in each breeding cage. The egg food recommended by the
European breeders is CeDe, with fresh hard-boiled egg added and mixed well. To
this mix grated carrots are also added daily when young are being fed. It will
be found that some pairs will also consume extra peas when feeding a nest of
It is my sincere hope that these above guidelines will aid
you in the enjoyment and captive management of one of nature's most charming
and delightful creatures!”
I hope you enjoyed this article as much as I did and I look forward to future posts about Linnies.