Derbyan Parakeet

Derbyan Parrot

Family: PsittacidaePicture of a Derbyan ParakeetPsittacula derbianaPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy S. Marsh
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This is an update of my previous entry. My derbyan that I handfed out is becoming a downright horrible pet. Having been handfed for almost 2 months and much... (more)  chris

   The mature Derbyan Parakeet is a striking bird with beautiful shades of violet blue on the head and breast!

   Though the Derbyan Parakeet is naturally a bit shy, seeming to prefer the company of birds to that of humans, with good socialization when they are young and ongoing regular handling, they make a wonderful pet. They love to socialize, are generally docile, and tend to live long healthy lives.

   The Derbyan Parakeet is one of the best talkers among the parakeets. They are extremely intelligent and can learn many words with a clarity in their speech that is similar to that of the amazon parrots. They do have a loud voice and can get be rather noisy though they are said to be less noisy when kept singly and given a lot of attention.

To learn more about Parakeets and their needs visit:
Guide to a Happy, Healthy Parakeet


  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Psittaciformes
  • Family: Psittacidae
  • Genus: Psittacula
  • Species: derbiana
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Scientific name: Psittacula derbiana

Sub-species:

  • Psittacula derbiana derbiana - Deryban Parakeet (Tibetan)
  • Psittacula derbiana chinensis - Chinese Derbyan Parakeet

There is currently only one recognized species of the Derbyan Parakeet, Psittacula derbiana . The Chinese Derbyan Parakeet Psittacula derbiana chinensis is officially unknown as a subspecies, but has been suggested in 2001 as being similar to the Derbyan Parakeet but slightly smaller. It is also described as having a duller violet-blue head, a duller red beak, and a more grayish breast and abdomen. Also under the wings and parts of the thighs are described as being a grayish-brown.

Distribution: The Derbyan Parakeet is found in northeast Assam, southeast Tibet, and western China in the provinces of Szechwan and Yunnan. They are mountainous birds living in forests of pine and oak as well as rhododendron alpine forests. This region is seldom visited by ornithologists so little is known about their habits.

Description: The Derbyan Parakeet has a general green plumage that gets paler on the nape and middle of the wings. They have black on their lores and lower cheeks, with a bright blue on their forecrown moving into a blue-violet on the rest of the head. The throat, under parts, and under the wings are a lavender-purple and the thighs and vent area are green with touches of blue on some of the feather edges. The central feathers of the tail are blue tinged with green near the base, and the outer feathers are green edged with blue. The upper beak on the male is red with a yellowish tip and the lower mandible is black, while the females beak is all black. The eye is a yellowish-white and the legs are a greenish-gray. The Derbyan Parakeet is a pretty large parakeet getting up to about 20" (50 cm).
The female is distinguished not only by the all black beak, but she does not have the blue on the forecrown. She can also be distinguished by a brownish-pink band behind the ear coverts.
The young are duller in color and have a green head with no blues. The beak is an orangish-red and the eyes are dark. They will reach their adult coloring at maturity, about two years of age.

Care and Feeding:    Fresh food and water must be provided daily.
   In the wild the Derbyan Parakeet eats a variety of seeds, fruits, berries, and leaf buds. They do like to feed on the ground. Their diet consists of a good seed mixture supplemented with sprouted seed, various fruits, and green foods. In addition to these foods, you can offer them vegetables and commercial pellets.
   See About Parakeets: Care and Feeding for more detailed information.

Housing:    A roomy cage is required, and time out of the cage for exercise and flying is very important for them. They will also do very well in an aviary.
   See About Parakeets: Housing for more extensive housing information.

Maintenance:    The basic cage care includes daily cleaning of the water and food dishes. Weekly you should wash all the perches and dirty toys, and the floor should be washed about every other week. A total hosing down and disinfecting of an aviary should be done yearly, replacing anything that needs to be freshened, such as old dishes, toys and perches.

Social Behaviors:    In the wild, the Derbyan Parakeets live in small flocks of up to 50 birds and are very social. They do seem to prefer birds as companions and can seem rather aloof, shying away from human handling. They have a generally peaceful personality and make excellent aviary birds.

Handling/Training:    They are rather shy with people, but with good socialization when they are young and regular handling after that, they become very good pets. They are extremely intelligent and can be excellent talkers.
See About Parakeets: Handling and Training for detailed information.

Activities:    Parakeets are very energetic birds! Besides flying, which is important for all parakeets, these birds love to chew! Though considered more placid than many parakeets, the Derbyan Parakeet is still very active and can be very destructive. Being a very intelligent bird it needs lots of stimulation to help prevent boredom. Make sure to give your pet regular time out of its cage and lots of assorted toys and wood chews, perches and swings.

Breeding/Reproduction:    The Derbyan Parakeets reach maturity at about two years of age. They will readily breed in captivity and are excellent parents. In the wild they build their nests in the holes in trees. The female will lay an average of four eggs. The young hatch in about 23 days and leave the nest in about 50 days.    See About Parakeets: Breeding and Reproduction for more information.

Potential Problems:    Though the Derbyan Parakeet is a healthy and hardy bird, they do forage for food on the ground. This can make them more susceptible to intestinal worms and fungal infections. These can be averted by keeping the cage or aviary well maintained and clean.
   Because of their frequent contact with the ground where they like to pick up seed, you may also want to talk to an avian veterinarian about a regular de-worming schedule. With a proper environment and a good balanced diet, they are very hardy and resistant to disease.
   See About Parakeets: Potential Problems for more information.

Availability:    Derbyan Parakeets are occasionally available at pet stores or from breeders.

Author: Clarice Brough, CAS
Lastest Animal Stories on Derbyan Parakeet

chris - 2007-01-19
This is an update of my previous entry.

My derbyan that I handfed out is becoming a downright horrible pet. Having been handfed for almost 2 months and much handling it should be as sweet a hand fed baby could be.

Its behavior resembles what I refer to as "production babies;" babies that are simply fed and returned to their clutchmates where the only interaction with a human is being picked up, shot full of food and set back into their enclosures. This bird also bites whenever any move it made upon it. My other Derbyan does not do this. It also cowers in its cage whenever any movement is made in its direction. Veteran bird keepers may think this bird was never even handfed to begin with.

I feel this Derbyan is the most useless pet bird Ive had. Im most disappointed in that all the attention and socialization it has received in a home environment has resulted in this fearful, limitly handlable bird. The only thing this bird is good for is color (when it matures). Other than that, it may as well just be free flighted in an aviary. Then again it may possibly be just the personality of this particular bird.

My second derbyan (this one was weaned already and was handled minimally while living at the store) has been a much better behaved pet. However this one is cage territorial and bites when its to be taken out. When perched on my shoulder, it quietly sits and does not mess with my ears or glass's arm (the other Derbyan cannot be kept on my shoulder). It also doesnt try to fly away when I take it out unlike the other Derby. It readily enjoys human company however still does not appreciate being stroked. Despite the shortcomings this Derbyan has, it is a much more handlable and I enjoy it. How ironic that a bird with a fraction of the attention given to it has become a much better bird.

  • Siobhan OLaoghaire Sannes - 2011-04-05
    I have now seen you refer to that poor Derbyan as a "useless pet bird" a "downright horrible pet" and then say "then only thing this bird is good for is color". As your post is years old, you probably aren't around anymore but shame on you! Every animal deserves love, a word I have yet to see you use regarding any of your birds.
  • Charlie Roche - 2011-04-06
    Not all birds are alike and some can be quirky. I bred many birds for many years. One, a military macaw I finally named Sergeant cus he reminded me of a drill Sergeant in the Army. I did everything I could think of and his sister was just a sweetheart. Sergeant was just very difficult and I decided to hold him back for breeding as no way he could be a pet. 7 or so years went by and I get a call and this fella wants a male breeder and I tell him about Sergeant. Sergeant has been in a flight with toys and a blue/gold macaw for the 7 years but definitely not handled. Fella says perfect and I ship Sergeant across the country. Sergent looks at the fella and says "I love you" and walks up to him and steps up on his hand. Go figure. Anyway, Sergeant got married and had babies ut I couldn't believe this fella could pick Sergeant up and he did. A good breeder will hold back stock at times cuz for some reason they just realize that this one particular bird is not pet quality. It doesn't mean your derbyan won't be a pet, or won't come around as obviously Sergeant did but maybe it needs a different approach, or start over or beats me after that.
  • Cobalt - 2011-12-17
    I agree with these others. This is probably a comment that is years too late, but that's a horrible mentality for anyone who handles the birds. If that's really how you feel, then you probably should find the birds a new home and look for something else...
  • Maria Conceicao Tereza - 2012-01-14
    tony yearsley 14-1-2012 I HAVE A DERBYAN CALLED FRED HE IS 2 YEARS OLD HE IS THE BEST BUDY THAT ANY ONE COULD AS FOR. THANK YOU FOR A GREAT SITE
  • linda - 2013-02-16
    i too am in agreement about the nasty comments about the derbyan as a 'horrible useless pet' how sad that someone like this is breeding them! there are so many birds that are out there to be adopted. we are fostering a derbyan now that is similar to her bird. but she likes my husband now, and granted she is VERY loud, but we are giving her as much love as she wants, and good care anyway...i think she probably was a purchase without knowledge of the breed, which is usually only kept as an aviary bird due to the fact they really do not like to be with humans which is their nature. all we can do is try to educate people about pet birds as much as possible...
  • Anonymous - 2013-08-17
    My Derbyan is the best bird I could ever have. We have four other parrots and he is the sweetest, most well behaved bird I could ever hope for. He is now three and one-half months old. He is starting to talk, he stays on top of his play gym on his cage and does not fly off, he does not bite, he loves to be pet and will sit on my lap for hours. He is very friendly to my other family members, I feel they make wonderful pets and they are also very smart.
  • Laura - 2014-03-29
    I was told my Derbyan was a male, he is now almost a year old. I would like to know at what age does his top beak turn orange? My bird is the friendliest, smartest bird we have and we have 6 different parrots. So if he is actally a girl, I am ok with that but I would like to know if anyone purchased a young Derbyan male and what age his beak turned orange - I was told it changes by 18 months.
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Laura - 2013-07-05
I purchased a male, two and 1/2 month Derbyan that was hand fed. He is a delight, I have had him for 8 days now. He will stay on top of his play gym for hours and not fly off. He lets me hold him for hours and is very sweet and loving. I spend a lot of time with him and let the other members of my family hold him so that he remains tame and socialized. He is a wonderful bird.

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Therese Dunnigan 2005-10-24 - 2005-10-24
My Derbyan is called "Bombay". He is handsome and loving. I purchase him four years ago and I recommend this bird to the beginner, as well as the advance bird lover. He has a large vocabulary and can master tricks with ease. There are few articles written about the Derbyan Parakeet and I thank you for your information.




  • amy payne - 2011-09-14
    Did you have a daughter named billie michelle, kim, tanya?
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Adrian Torres - 2005-10-12
In July I purchased 2 Derbyans about 2 months old. they take peanuts from my hand, climb on me, and they can talk, saying " Hello" and "Bye". I have been looking for a site and I found this one. thanks, now I know how to better care for Everest and Efren.

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Mark Barnett - 2005-09-14
We got our Derbyan Parakeet in January of 2005 from my Sister-in-law for $60.00 (What a steal, Huh?)We named her Mary Jane (M.J. for short) she is 2 years old and the apple of Daddy's eye, she loves when I sing to her. Thank you for having this Derbyan site.
Mark & M.J. Barnett

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LeeAnn - 2005-05-10
Hi I purchased a Derbyan Parakeet yesterday, 4 month old male. I have been looking for sites with good information & I just found yours. Thank you for this site & great information. This is a beautiful bird & seems so loving I can't wait until he is adjusted to us & his new enviorment. I can tell were going to have years of enjoyment with this bird.

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