For the bird enthusiast who wants a parrot capable of talking, but not the century-long life-span or high price tag, a ringneck parrot can be a desirable option. Both the Indian and African ringneck parrots are commonly available in pet stores, but the birds vary greatly in more than coloration.
Indian ringnecks are more colorful than their African cousins, with many color mutations available. An Indian ringneck's vibrant green plumage is offset by a blue tail with a bright-yellow underside to it, and bright yellow under the wings. A cherry-red beak dominates the face and the distinct black ring around the male's neck is flanked by lighter rings of rose and blue by the time the bird is 3 years old. The African ringneck has a lime-green base color and a smaller purplish beak, as well as neck rings that are predominantly black.
African ringnecks are the smaller birds, reaching 11 to 13 inches in height, while Indian ringnecks top out at about 16 inches. The Africans have a longer tail than the Indian birds, and they do not have yellow feathers under their wings and tail. With proper care both species can live for more than 20 years, with Africans living as long as 28 years and the Indian species living up to 30 years.
African ringnecks have a more docile disposition, especially if obtained just after weaning, at around 10 to 14 weeks, and handled and hand-fed. Indian ringnecks experience an aggressive stage as juveniles, known as bluffing, that helps them compete for food in the wild but can result in painful bites and piercing screaming in the home. If this behavior is ignored, the stage will pass as the bird matures, but punishing the bird can result in permanent fearful or aggressive behavior.
Both Indian ringnecks and African ringnecks are dimorphic: you will easily be able to tell males from females by about 18 months old, by the prominence of the ring around the neck. (In females this ring will be pale green and much less apparent than the male's black ring; it may be hard to see at all.) It's easy to breed Indian ringnecks by placing a nest box in their aviary when you see affectionate behavior between them in the spring. Africans are pickier about nesting locations, are more secretive about their affection for one another and need privacy to breed.