Also known as the Red-Crowned Parakeet, the Kakariki are popular pets in certain parts of the world, and it’s no wonder.
They’re best known for their adorable appearance and playful behavior, and the birds they share the most in common with are the jenday conure and the black-headed caique.
There’s a lot of note about the Kakariki parakeet, both in terms of their history and their mannerisms.
The following article will break down all you need to know about the Kakariki parakeet, including their native region, their varying colors, their speech and sounds, and how to care for a Kakariki parakeet.
The Kakariki and its subspecies, of which there are several, are native to New Zealand.
They can also be found on small islands surrounding New Zealand, like Chatham, Auckland, Hauraki Gulf, Kapiti, Stewart, and Kermadec.
The ideal habitats of this protected species tend to be varied, but they tend to thrive in more open areas, like forests, scrubland, and grasslands.
While their population used to be at risk due to habitat loss and the introduction of predators like possums and rats, their numbers are now on the rise.
In their natural habitat, the Kakariki tends to live in the holes of branches and in tree trunks, most often the trunks of trees that are decaying. This is where they’d set up their nests.
They can also live in the crevices of cliffs, and amongst rocks, dense vegetation, and in burrows.
This is where they differ from the yellow-crowned parakeet, which tends to live exclusively in the holes of trees.
Weight And Size
Both stocky and small, the Kakariki tends to be between 7.8 inches to 11.6 inches in height, but this varies among subspecies.
Their average weight tends to be 65 grams, but males are quite a bit larger and heavier than females.
The size is so notably different between males and females that they are considered a sexually dimorphic species.
This means that the male and female Kakariki parakeets are recognized as two distinct forms, despite their colors being largely the same.
Differences Between Males And Females
As well as the difference in size, the heads of the males are both bigger and tend to be chubbier, compared to the small heads of the females.
The beaks of male Kakariki parakeets are also bigger and broader.
The sex of a Kakariki can usually be determined when the birds are chicks, because even in their infancy the males have notably longer, wider, and more pointed beaks than the females.
There are some differences in coloring between the male and the female, too; the red patch is brighter on the male birds than the females. For females, the patch is noticeably duller.
The Kakariki parakeet is undoubtedly a pretty bird, but its colors are fairly simple. Color mutations are offered by breeders for those looking for more variety in the colors.
Generally, though, the body tends to be a faint tropical green, with lighter tones on the bird’s chest.
Their flight feathers are usually blue, and the red patch on their forehead is what gave them their scientific name, Red-Crowned Parakeet.
They also have small red patches on both of their cheeks, which gives off an adorable ‘blush’ effect. Among the most popular variations of the Kakariki is the yellow Kakariki.
Behavior, Speech, And Sound
Both males and females tend to be fairly quiet birds, which is ideal if you’re looking for a bird that won’t drive you up the wall.
When they do speak, though, they have all the vocal capabilities of the most talkative parrots.
They’re not noisy birds, but they regularly make cute noises, softly mumbling away when they’re playing by themselves.
The Kakariki parakeet is very intelligent; they can learn full words and phrases remarkably quickly, but unlike other kinds of parrots, they won’t be saying them at every opportunity.
As well as what sounds like actual speaking, there would also be general mimicry throughout any given day, which would include the lyrics to all the songs you have on loop.
In terms of their personality, their most notable trait is how friendly they are.
They’re very lovable birds, often cuddling up to their owners once they’re more familiar with them.
While they’re not overly noisy birds, they do require quite a bit of attention, and consistent stimulation.
A Kakariki parakeet must have access to many different kinds of toys, otherwise, they can get irritable and lonely when their owner isn’t home.
They’ll also need at least a few hours outside their cage every day, as do the majority of birds.
Introduce new toys regularly to keep your Kakariki happy, and be sure to give it lots of attention.
In terms of the toys themselves, they tend to prefer toys that are made from either acrylic or paper. If they can tear it up, then it’ll probably keep them busy, and therefore keep them happy.
Most of the toys they require won’t even need to be bought; you can quite easily put together some toys by yourself using simple materials you likely already have in your home.
Other suitable toys would be made up of wood or rope, so they have something to climb on.
They’re very sociable birds, so if they’re a pet to a family, they should all be making an effort to bond with the Kakariki.
If they’re only given time to bond with one member of the family, they might become nippy and even aggressive towards the other members of the family, so bear this in mind if you have any small children.
It’s worth noting, though, that with enough attention and stimulation, they’re very friendly birds. So you shouldn’t have to worry about their behavior if you’re treating them right.
The only time they might be a little more aggressive than usual is during the mating season, but this is mostly only in males, and the only behavior change is typically the marking of their territory.
If your Kakariki is acting a little more aggressive during the mating season, they will calm down in time.
Because they’re so sociable, it’s also recommended that you get more than just one Kakariki, unless you’re going to be home most of the time and will be able to provide it with lots of attention throughout any given day.
When compared to any other parrots, they’re significantly active birds. They rarely keep completely still, and when they are moving around, these movements are fast.
They’re very intelligent birds, which is most evident by their impressive speaking ability.
This intelligence means they’re a bird that’s very easy to train, but don’t expect them to pick up everything immediately.
You’ll need to set aside a short amount of time every day for training, because you’ll usually only get around 15 to 20 minutes of their attention at a time before they’re moving onto something else, like a toy.
It’s a commitment, but don’t let their lack of attention frustrate you; it won’t take long at all to successfully train a Kakariki.
As for the types of things you can teach them, there’s a variety. It’s really up to you.
Whether it’s speaking, dancing, or mimicking specific songs or sounds, the Kakariki will usually be open to learning new things.
For their diet, Kakariki parakeets eat mostly flowers, seeds, fruit, and leaves. Any commercial seed mix tailored to small parrots should keep your bird happy and healthy.
A cuttlebone is also recommended as a source of calcium, which you’ll find in the form of a perch, meaning it’s both a toy and a supplement.
Another important thing to note is that these parakeets are big fans of baths.
Not in the actual bath, of course (unless it’s a bath designed for parakeets, which is… rare), but in your sink.
Simply fill your sink with a couple of inches of warm water and they’ll be able to clean themselves and have a swell time in the process.
They’ll be flapping their wings, naturally, so you might want to stand back, else you might get soaked.
On the right diet, a Kakariki can live up to between 15 to 20 years, so if you’re considering getting one as a pet then you need to seriously think about whether you’re ready for such a commitment.
Although, even if your living arrangements change and your bird is suddenly living in an apartment rather than a house, they’re unlikely to disturb the neighbors.
Generally, they’re a good pet even if you live in a small apartment or a small house.
While 20 years may sound like a long time, this life expectancy is far lower than that of many bigger parrots.
Also, the Kakariki tends to live longer in their natural habitat than they do as a pet. Some Kakariki birds only live to five years as pets.
Because Kakariki parakeets are so friendly, intelligent, and easily trainable, they make an ideal choice if you’ve never owned a bird before.
Even if you’ve never owned any type of animal, there’s not much of a learning curve when it comes to caring for these birds.
They do need more attention than more typical pets, though, like cats and a lot of dog breeds.
So if you’re not going to have much time on your hands to dedicate to the bird (or birds), you might want to hold off until your schedule is freed up a little.
Size Of Cage Required
Like most types of parakeets, the Kakariki will need a cage with half an inch between each bar.
The width of the cage should be 18 inches, the depth should also be 18 inches, and it should be 18 inches high.
A cage of this size will give your bird enough freedom to move around- anything smaller and they’d likely be uncomfortable.
If you’re going to be getting more than one bird, you’ll need a larger cage, because the aforementioned measurements simply won’t do if there’s another bird in the picture.
If you do have more than one bird, they’ll need to be kept in individual flights within the cage, as they can become aggressive towards each other, especially during the mating season.
As for the type of cage required, wood would be a suitable material, because they don’t chew wood very well.
They enjoy foraging, though, so the floor of their cage should resemble the flooring of their natural habitat, whether this is sand or earth.
If the floor of the cage is concrete, this is perfectly okay too, but you’ll need to spread out fresh earth regularly.
Bird Breeds Most Similar To The Kakariki
There are two breeds of birds that have a lot in common with the Kakariki parakeet. These are the jenday conure and the black-headed caique.
The size of the jenday conure is similar to that of the Kakariki, but they tend to live a lot longer, with an average life expectancy of 30 years.
Their colors tend to be a combination of orange, green, and yellow, and their vocal capabilities include natural calls, vocals, and mimics. They tend to be quite a bit louder than the Kakariki.
They’re very sociable birds, and they’re full of energy. The jenday conure itself is quite similar to both the budgerigar and the sun conure.
As for the black-headed caique, they tend to be bigger than the Kakariki, but they’re just as sociable and playful.
Their lifespan is even longer than that of the jenday conure, roughly 25 to 40 years.
The vocal capabilities of the black-headed caique include general vocals, mimics, and nature calls. Just like the jenday conure, they’re a lot louder than the Kakariki.
The Kakariki tends to be a great choice for anyone who’s never owned a bird before.
They’re not so loud as to make a work-from-home job a nightmare, but they do require a lot of attention- more than the majority of other parrots.
Not only are they adorable, but they’re also very friendly and sociable, so if you have the time to devote to the bird, you won’t regret it.