They've got it! The "glamour" birds of the avian set.
Where do they come from? Indian Ringnecks originated primarily in India and Burma, and are still one of the most common wild birds seen in open countryside, cultivated lands and even in towns and villages. Ringnecks feed on seeds, fruit and berries. They often decimate orchards and grain fields. Nesting colonies have been seen circling dwellings, flying in and out of the eaves like swallows and nesting in holes in the buildings or nearby trees.
What is their life span? Although a life span of 20 to 30 years is possible, with records of 50 years substantiated, in captivity their well-documented life span ranges from 15 to 25 years. The males have been known to breed successfully in their 20's.
What do they look like? These graceful parakeets are about 15" in length, from head to tip of tail. They are slender birds with long tapered tails, and except during molting, they are impeccably feathered and well groomed. Except for the albino (which is also red-eyed like the cinnamon), mature males have distinguishing rings around their throats and necks. Indian Ringnecks have a "candy corn" colored beak, while African ringnecks have a darker beak.
What's their personality like? Are they good companions? The Ringneck personality can range from loving and aloof, preferring little physical contact, to loving and cuddly, craving scratches and snuggles. This depends on the individual bird as well as the early socialization. Most Ringnecks are not as cuddly as a cockatoo or conure, but they ask for affection in their own way, fluffing and bowing their necks for your scratches, or snuggling against your neck or under your chin. As with other parrot species, a handfed bird that has been properly socialized can be a devoted and wonderful companion. More than many other birds, however, Ringnecks do not tolerate extended periods of neglect. They need to be out of the cage, talked to and played with on a daily basis to maintain the bond with their human companion or else they may become nippy and unfriendly.
Are there predictable differences in temperament? Male Ringnecks tend to be more flamboyant and posturing and possibly a bit more talkative and less bossy than females. When the females have chosen you, however, they can be very affectionate. The biggest determination of temperament is early socializing, followed by sensitive understanding of their environmental and personal needs.
Do they talk? Are they noisy? Ringneck speaking ability can outrank budgies, cockatiels and other smaller species. Their vocabularies have been known to be as high as 250 words. Much of their vocal development depends on the amount and quality of time their human companion spends teaching and training them. They are very expressive of their emotions with their own "language" and you can usually understand what they're feeling by observation and interaction. Like most parrots, Ringnecks can demand attention vocally and can be quite loud and obnoxious if upset. They are not, however, as noisy as many of the South American parrots (especially Aratingas) or the larger Australian birds (cockatoos).
What are potential behavior problems? Similar to virtually ALL parrots, Ringnecks can develop negative behaviors such as excessive screaming, manic activities, biting, and (less often) feather picking. Biting, as a consequence of not being interacted with enough, is probably the most common problem encountered with a companion Ringneck. In contemplating the purchase of any parrot, you need to be wiling to learn about parrots in general and that species in particular, so that you can interact in the best possible manner for the happiness and richest relationship for both of you.
Is a handfed baby always friendly? Do they bite? Generally, handfed Ringnecks are friendly if they are properly socialized. However, periods of as little as a week of minimal handling during the early months can result in their losing some or most of their tameness. When they exchange one human companion for another, they usually require an adjustment period and a slow, gentle "getting-to-know-you". All parrots bite at some time, whether they're going through the "beaking" period after weaning, the testing period at adolescence, or when they're upset (frightened, angry, hormonal). There are proven techniques for modifying unacceptable behavior.
Is it better to have on or two Ringnecks? Like most other parrots, Ringnecks are naturally "flock" creatures, so if you have a single bird, you should provide a rich environment to prevent boredom and undesirable behavior. Generally, Ringnecks will maintain a better relationship with you if they are not paired.
What type of cage and environment do they need? Ringnecks need as large a cage as your space and budget allows. Minimum 24" x 24" x 36". Perches should be of various sizes and shapes to allow some variety for your bird's feet. Sufficient toys (even some that you can switch out from time to time) will provide amusement and exercise. Ringnecks are active, intelligent birds and like inquisitive children, need stimuli in their environment to channel excess energy into fun, "lively" activities. Most of these guys love a good bath or shower and you can mist them with plain water or provided a "bathing bowl" in their cage. Since they need a good night's sleep, if your family room is busy until all hours, provide a private corner or cover their cage because, like and over stimulated and tired child, they can get cranky and uncooperative.
What do they eat? Depending on what they're fed from the time they are small, Ringnecks love most fruits and vegetables and should have them regularly. A good maintenance pellet, a limited amount of seeds and if possible, sprouted seeds, will provided the rest of the diet. Cooked rice and bean mixes are also good fare. Healthy table food in moderation is fine, but no caffeine (coffee, chocolate), very salty or sweet foods, or avocados. A cuttlebone or mineral block is suggested for additional calcium. Fresh water daily is a must.
What about grooming and vet visits? Ringnecks are exceptionally strong flyers, so for their safety, wings should be clipped to prevent accidents or escapes. But have a pro do it or show you how, so that you don't clip too short (where they "fall like a rock" and crack their sternum) or too long (so that they can get going and fly into a plate glass window). Nails should be trimmed as necessary (a separate concrete perch helps). A yearly checkup with your avian vet is recommended. Learn to recognize signs of illness and how to contact your avian vet quickly.
What's my commitment going to be? Ringnecks are fairly long lived and therefore a strong commitment on the part of the person buying the bird is recommended. It's somewhat different caring for an exotic bird than for a dog or a cat. If you are new to birds, please do your homework before bringing home your new baby. Birds require attention every day. They have very special personalities and requirements. Your extra effort for these little angels will not go unrewarded, you will have many years with a special companion!
What colors are available? What's the cost? The colors are almost as varied as the rainbow, with the following being available in the U.S. at varying prices (depending on color, sex, age and part of the U.S.) : normal (green), white (albino), yellow (lutino), lemon & pale cream (creamino), blue, turquoise, cinnamon, cinnamon-blue, cinnamon-turquoise, grey, grey green, cinnamon-grey, turquoise-grey, cinnamon-turquoise-grey, cobalt, violet, etc. Colors such as the various lacewings are being found more often, and rarer colors such as cobalt are still usually found with breeders only.
Where's the best place to find an Indian Ringneck? There are several sources, small and large breeders, pet stores and bird marts. My opinion is that ideally, the bird will come from a small breeder who handles youngsters a lot, and you will be able to find out about the bird's background and personality, as well as have ongoing support for questions.