Not too many parrots have royal titles, which is just one way the Princess of Wales Parakeet (Polyteles alexandrae), also referred to as the Princess Parrot, stands out. This medium-sized pastel-colored parrot with a long tail is native to Australia’s woodland and scrub habitats and is named after a real princess — Princess Alexandra of Denmark (1844-1925), who later married the Prince of Wales, Edward VII, eventually becoming the Queen of England.
While many parrot species have rich, brightly colored feathers, the Princess of Wales parakeet is more a soft pastel, with plumage that is mostly green with a pink throat, bluish crown and rump, and brighter green shoulders. Don’t let the common name that leads with the word “Princess” fool you into thinking that the species is made up entirely of females! There are male “princesses.” (Although, Prince of Wales parakeets might be something for ornithologists to consider — “The Prince and Princess of Wales Parakeet” sounds like a charming name for a bird pair!) The sexes are dimorphic when they reach sexual maturity, which means you can visually tell adult males apart from females. The male’s plumage has a little more richness, and males also have a slight elongation of the third primary flight feathers, referred to as a spatula tip, which has an upward curl. The male’s iris is orange, while the female’s is more brown in color. There are also several Princess of Wales color mutations, including blue, lutino and albino.
Their “soft” appearance might give you the impression that they have soft vocalizations. While they do have a reputation for being quieter than other parrot species, Princess of Wales parakeets can be chirpy whistlers and some even learn to mimic a few words or phrases (Hearing is believing: check out this Princess of Wales getting chatty with himself).
They are natural ground foragers, and, given their long tail feathers, need a housing that is both wide and tall, such as a flight cage, preferably set up with ground-level foraging area.
The Princess of Wales has a reputation for its gentleness, and hand-reared Princesses are reported to be more apt to be outgoing and friendly companions. Sadly, the Princess of Wales parakeet, while available in aviculture, is becoming a rare sight in the wild.