The plum-headed parakeet, or Psittacula cyanocephala, is a small parakeet averaging 12 to 14 inches (30 to 35 cm) in length. It is native to Sri Lanka and neighboring regions, primarily parts of India, Pakistan, and Nepal. They are part of the parakeet family referred to as ringnecks due to the colored collar or stripe that encircles the neck. The plum-headed parakeet is distinguishable by its plum-colored head, which is darker on males than females. Its features most resemble, and are often mistaken for, the blossom-headed parakeet, or Psittacula roseate.
The head of the male plum-headed parakeet has a more prominent plum color. The crown of the male’s head has a red tint which turns to a plum shade farther down towards the neck area. Females have lighter lavender to gray color heads and lack the black neck ring that is displayed on the males. The body resembles green parrots with dark green on the back feathers and lighter yellowish-green breast feathers. The tail feathers, which account for more than half of the bird’s length, are green and blue with yellow feathers featured at the tips.
In the wild, the plum-headed parakeet will nest in holes found in trees of forests and open woodland areas. Pairs will produce one clutch annually that consists of about four to six eggs. When born, the plumage of the young is dull green with beaks that are light yellow. During the first molt, the head of both males and females are light gray. Full coloration may not appear until the second year, or during the second molt.
Pet plum-headed parakeets are well-suited for outdoor aviaries. They live amicably with many other species, including finches and cockatiels; however, breeding pairs should be housed away from other birds. A pet plum-headed parakeet thrives well on a diet of the same along with commercial pellets and various human foods. Wild plum-headed parakeets live in social flocks. Their diet in the wild consists primarily of seeds, fruits, and nuts.
Like the parrot, the plum-headed parakeet is highly intelligent. It may learn to talk or learn some words; however, it is not as prolific at communicating as its larger counterparts. Plum-headed parakeets are considered a quieter type of pet bird compared to other species of parakeets and parrots. While many types are known for their human-bird bonding, the plum-headed parakeet is not as affectionate. Initially, these pet birds are generally timid and reserved, becoming more confident as they adjust to their new environment.