Copybirds moving into museum forest

Be careful what you say next time you visit Otago Museum’s tropical forest, because other visitors may be hearing it loudly and often for many years to come.

Four Indian ring-necked parakeets are soon to be released into the large enclosure and are renowned for their remarkable ability to repeat what they hear.

They are not shy, and they have been known to live for more than 30 years.

Otago Museum marketing manager Kate Oktay said the sibling parakeets had been hand-reared at the Dunedin Botanic Garden, but they were still young and had not yet developed the coloured ring around their necks.

She said they had been temporarily put in a cage at the museum to help them settle into their new life, while receiving some training from staff.

Otago Museum science engagement co-ordinator Sophie Sparrow gets acquainted with one of the...
Otago Museum science engagement co-ordinator Sophie Sparrow gets acquainted with one of the museum’s new Indian ring-necked parakeets. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
They were being taught to associate the cage with a place to get food and sleep, trained to come when called, and to ‘‘step up’’ (stand on a staff member’s hand) so they could be checked.

‘‘Once they get used to their new home, they will be free to roam freely in the forest during the day, and sleep in the cage at night.

‘‘Museum staff will be working with them daily for ongoing training, and will at the same time monitor their behaviour and overall wellbeing to ensure the birds are healthy and happy with us.

‘‘The tropical forest is quite a large environment - three tiers high - so there is plenty of room here for the birds to fly around, and we think they will be happy here.

‘‘They are a non-aggressive, social species, and we think our visitors will love them.’’

The big question was about how the other residents of the forest would feel about the newcomers.

She said the birds’ diet consisted mostly of seeds, as well as fruit and vegetables.

‘‘So the other animals in the forest, including the butterflies, should be just fine.’’


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