Most common avian pets in India-Lovebirds-30th March 2018

Most common avian pets in India-Lovebirds-30th March 2018

Feathered friends most commonly raised in India as pets are lovebirds that include both Budgerigars and African Lovebirds. African Lovebirds are social and affectionate small parrots. Eight species are native to the African continent is one of nine species of the genus Agapornis (Greek: αγάπη agape ‘love’; όρνις ornis ‘bird’). The Grey-Headed Lovebird is native to Madagascar. Their name comes from the parrots’ strong, monogamous pair bonding and the long periods that paired birds spend sitting together and live in small flocks. They are short, thick-bodied parrot about 13-17 cm (5 to 6 inches) long from head to tail and 40 to 60 grams (1.4-2.1 oz) in weight. They are among the smallest parrots, characterized by a stocky build, a short blunt tail, and a relatively large, sharp beak. Wild type Lovebirds are mostly green with a variety of colors on their upper body, depending on the species. Fischer’s Lovebird, Black-Cheeked Lovebird, and Masked Lovebird have a prominent white ring around their eyes. This group of birds was named Lovebirds because they groom each other constantly and sit as close together as possible when resting or sleeping. Mutation is change in a normal characteristic, such as color, that can occur spontaneously for no apparent reason. In the wild, a bird with a color mutation probably will not survive. Others of its species may not recognize it as one of their own and may kill it. Color mutation may also make the bird more vulnerable to attack by predators. Normal coloring of a species generally has developed over time to hide it in its habitat from animals of prey. Some species are kept as pets, and several color mutations are selectively bred in aviculture. In their native lands, Lovebirds are found on coastal plains, in grasslands and woodlands, in forests, and in river valleys. They eat a wide variety of grasses, grass seeds, grains, fruits, and food crops such as corn and millet. In some places, flocks of Lovebirds that feast regularly on food crops are considered pests by the local farmers. In the wild, Lovebirds live in small flocks and eat fruit, vegetables, grasses as well as seed. The Abyssinian Lovebird or Black-Winged Lovebird, has a specialized diet that includes native figs, which is why they are so rare in captivity. Lovebirds are very vocal birds, making loud, high-pitched noises with average lifespan is 10 to 15 years.

Budgerigars in their natural habitat in Australia are noticeably smaller than those in captivity. Because of their world-wide popularity as cage birds, Budgerigars are undoubtedly the best known of all parrots. Budgerigar (Melopsittacus undulatus) also known as the Common Pet Parakeet or Shell Parakeet is informally nicknamed Budgie. Adults and immatures of both sexes have a white wing stripe. Both adults are 18 cm (7 in) long and weigh 30-40 grams (1.1-1.4 oz). The upper parts are barred with black and yellow; rump and under parts green; forehead and face yellow. They display small, iridescent blue-violet cheek patches and a series of three black spots across each side of their throats (called throat patches). The two outermost throat spots are situated at the base of each cheek patch. Under wing-coverts green; tail greenish-blue, lateral feathers centrally banded with yellow; bill olive-grey; cere blue, brownish in breeding female; iris white; and legs are greyish blue. The tail is cobalt (dark-blue); and outside tail feathers display central yellow flashes. The ultraviolet spectrum brightens their feathers to attract mates. The throat spots in Budgerigars reflect UV and can be used to distinguish individual birds. During early morning and late afternoon, they are most active, visiting waterholes to drink, scurrying through the grass searching for seeds, or flying from one tree to the next. They spend the remainder of the day sitting in trees or tall bushes and may be easily overlooked, but flocks on the move are conspicuous because of their noise; they are generally heard before being seen. The swift, erratic flight of flocks is characterized by remarkable precision, the entire flock twisting and turning as one. The flight of small groups is slower with even turns. Nesting generally takes place between August and January in the south and from June to September in the north, but the parrots are opportunist breeders and will nest at any time following good rains. The nest is generally in a hollow in a tree, stump, fence post, or log lying on the ground. Four to six, occasionally up to eight, eggs are laid on decayed wood dust. The female broods for about eighteen days and the young leave the nest around thirty days after hatching. The birds feed on seeds procured on or near the ground. Important food items are seeds of spinifex (Triodia) and Mitchell grass (Astrebla). Lea and Gray (1935) examined crop contents from three birds collected in south-eastern Australia and found seeds-mainly grass seeds and a few seeds of Portulaca olcracea and fine grit. Average lifespan is up to 15 years.

Both species are common due to their attractive colours due to mutation. These birds have shorter life span and less disease tolerance compared to larger birds. Their nutrient requirements and daily activity are to be considered to maintain their health. Both species breed frequently hence calcium supplements are essential to avoid vitamin deficiency specially in females, cuttle fish bone or natural supplements are to be provided to maintain their health and longevity, excessive deficiency not only weakens bones but can be life threatening too in extreme cases.Considering the variety of species native to different countries, their natural habitats, living habits, dietary requirements, and required activities, birds at Shuka Vana are placed in seven different Vanas that provides an unique environment and an exciting ambiance for all species of birds to lead a healthy and happy life. African lovebirds and Budgerigar are not not native to the same country, considering their size, nutritional needs, daily activity requirement, and need for protection from larger birds, Dari Vana provides ample space, designed with good ventilation on all sides, dawn and dusk sun light, space for these birds to fly and play. Toys and perches are frequently replaced. Being small parrots they breed fast and are aggressive too while pairing. Mixed fruits and millets are served during morning hours so that bird with empty stomach overnight chooses its favorite food. Chopped mixed vegetables, green leafy vegetables, sprouts of dicotyledons are served as afternoon meal to maintain balanced nutritious diet. 90% of Mixed millets with 10 % of sunflower seeds are included in their diet for evening hours. They also occasionally relish sweet corn. Fresh clean filtered drinking water is provided for the birds and changed thrice daily along with food.

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