Red-breasted Parakeet (Psittacula alexandri)

The Red-breasted Parakeet (Psittacula alexandri) is among the more widespread species of the genus and is the species which has the most geographical variations. It is easily identified by the large reddish patch on its breast. An alternative name is the Moustached Parakeet depending on subspecies.  The subspecies found in Thailand is Psittacula alexandri fasciata.

My long-distance shots don’t do this beauty justice so here’s the Wikipedia shot.

rbp wiki

Here’s a couple of my shots from the Khao Yai area.

IMG_0526 IMG_0586 Red-breasted Parakeets have a huge range from South and South-East Asia, from northern and eastern India (including the Andaman Islands), Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh, ranging through Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and southern China (Guangxi, Guangdong and Hainan), with populations in Indonesia, on Java, Bali Karimunjawa, Kangean, Simeulue, Nias and Banyak, and in Kalimantan (where probably introduced from Java) (Juniper and Parr 1998).  For travel logistical purposes, the easiest place to see them would be in Thailand where there is a city-based flock in the Dusit area and a large population in the Khao Yai area seen easily near the Balios Resort.  Your ears will find them!




World Parrot Trust



This video was taken in Thailand and you can clearly hear the bird’s call.

Here’s a nesting pair.


Beautiful close-up!


Long Bangkok Layover Pictorial – Khao Yai Area

As described here, these are the photos from our long Bangkok layover between Chiang Mai and Koh Samui.

Bangkok Airways has a nice livery!


Always inspect your rental car and take photos.

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Up early in Khao Yai (outside the park proper) birding the grounds of the Balios Resort and nearby.  Nothing that would excite most birders – no rare birds but I was thrilled to get a better look at Red-breasted Parakeets (aka Moustache Parrots).

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This is where we chased the Red-breasted Parakeets – the empty lot next to the Palio Shopping Centre.  They make enough noise!

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We had a bit of drama with the car, at one point it wouldn’t start and I was freaking out!  We pushed it into a car park and after several tries, thankfully it started but I wouldn’t turn it off all the rest of the way to Bangkok.  It was nice to see how pretty the area is since we arrived in the dark.  My review of Balios Resort.

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This is what you can expect if you drive a rental car.  The roads are pretty well marked in both Thai and English.  We had no trouble finding the airport although it took a while to find a petrol station to refuel at.  It was a public holiday the day we drove back so there were no tolls which was nice!

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Closest petrol station to the airport – they take credit cards.


The airport traffic is always crazy!

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Car back safe and sound – return inspection.


Car rental kiosks at BKK domestic terminal.


Birding On A Bangkok Layover – Short & Long Options

If you are collecting Star Alliance miles with United or someone else, odds are that you will find yourself flying Thai Airways quite a bit.  I’ve transited Bangkok between Australia and Asia, Africa, Europe and the USA on sometimes very complicated routings.  Depending on time of day and connections, you can often add a layover in Bangkok to your trip.  Since there are so many blogs specializing in Thailand, I am only going to discuss birding options here.

Remember, a layover is less than 24 hours.  If you plan well, you can slot one into an existing itinerary such as this one to Africa or this one to South-east Asia and take advantage of United’s generous routing rules.  If you go over 24 hours, it is then a stop-over and will count as the one stop-over you get on a RT ticket.


This excursion is best done early in the morning or late afternoon and you need at least 6 hours layover.  Take the airport train to the last station – Phaya Thai, then get a tuktuk or taxi to the Dusit Zoo.  Yes, I know the birds and animals are in cages there but you want to focus on the wild birds in the lush, tropical grounds.  I was targeting Red-breasted Parakeets which flock in the area.  I will do a pictorial on a separate post but here’s a sample.  I saw several flyover parakeets while we were walking around the park but the best sighting was a huge flock that flew right over our heads unexpectedly (before I could focus the camera) as we waited on the street outside for a passing tuktuk.

IMG_7354When you are ready to leave, the famous backpacker haunt – Khao San Road is about 15 minutes by tuktuk so we grabbed a quick snack, had a massage and got a tuktuk back to Phaya Thai station so we could make our flight at 23:59 to BNE.


I managed to build a 23 hour layover between Chiang Mai and Koh Samui on our most recent trip and we planned a quickie visit to Khao Yai National Park.  At first I was thinking we should use the public minibuses to Pak Chong, then a taxi to the hotel – the Balios Resort (formerly the Juldis Khao Yai) which is located near the park and where most of the big birding tour operators stay with their groups.  After the successful self-drive birding adventure to Doi Inthanon and Mae Ping, I worked up my confidence to drive from BKK to Khao Yai and booked a Hertz car.

The line was longer than I expected so it took awhile to get our car and get out of the airport.  The traffic was intimidating but luckily I managed to get on the right motorway heading north but it was very slow-going until we reached the outskirts.  It was around 9pm before we reached the hotel and we were exhausted.  The restaurant was closed so we cleaned out the mini-bar and the biscuits we had in the car.

The next morning, I was eager to find Red-breasted Parakeets and any other birds so we were up at the crack of dawn walking around the grounds.  It didn’t take long to hear the parakeets but they led us on a merry chase forcing us to leave the hotel, scurry down the road and find them in a nearby vacant lot on the other side of the Palio Shopping Centre.  This time we got better sightings and better photos than the Dusit one!  We couldn’t linger a long time as we needed to drive back to BKK so we never got to enter the park proper – so there’s a good reason to come back!

Here’s a teaser, full pictorial coming!

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Grey-headed Parakeet (Psittacula finschii)

The Grey-headed parakeet (Psittacula finschii) is closely related to the Slaty-headed Parakeet (which I saw in Nepal a few years ago) which together form a super-species.  I briefly saw a small flock fly overhead as we turned down the road to Thung Kik in Mae Ping NP but they disappeared before I could get a shot.  This species seems to be very difficult to get a photo of in the wild, not even Wikipedia has one, they just have a drawing of one!

ghpwikiThey do have a fairly large range and Mae Ping is considered the easiest place to see them (blue dot).  While you are likely to see them, expect it to be a swift fly-by!



World Parrot Trust



Oriental Bird Club (only photography source of these birds in the wild I could find)


This is a pretty decent video of one eating even though he is partially obscured by leaves!  It seems everyone has trouble trying to photo/video this bird!


Bar-throated Minla or Chestnut-tailed Minla (Minla strigula)

The Bar-throated Minla or Chestnut-tailed Minla (Minla strigula), is a species of bird in the family Leiothrichidae. It has traditionally been placed in the genus Minla.

IMG_9958 IMG_9981 IMG_9979 IMG_9989They have a large range spanning most of South-east Asia.  I took the photos above at the Visitor’s Centre at the Summit of Doi Inthanon (blue dot) where they are very easily seen.




A Birder’s Blog


Here’s a nice close-up that shows how the bird moves about in a twitchy way.

Blossom-Headed Parakeet (Psittacula roseata)

The Blossom-headed Parakeet (Psittacula roseata) is a parrot which is a resident breeder in northeast India eastwards into Southeast Asia. It undergoes local movements, driven mainly by the availability of the fruit and blossoms which make up its diet.  In these photos which I took near Doi Inthanon, you can see the difference between the male and female.  He has a brighter head with a distinct neck ring and she has a pale lavender head with no neck ring.

IMG_0083a IMG_0055aAlthough the Blossom-headed Parakeet has a fairly large range across South-east Asia, Thailand is by far the easiest country to travel in logistically, especially for people like me who prefer independent travel in a rental car.  After doing my homework, I settled on Doi Inthanon (red dot below) as the best bet to see this bird reliably.



World Parrot Trust





Maybe I should have gone to Vietnam where this beautiful footage of a male Blossom-headed Parakeet was filmed.

Blossom-Headed Parakeet Conservation Area Near Doi Inthanon

The Blossom-Headed Parakeet Conservation Area is a few km before you reach the gate for Doi Inthanon.  If you pick up a car at Chiang Mai airport it will be about a 2 hour drive or a bit less.  You will see the turn-off on the right hand side of the road and it’s the same road that leads to TouchStar Resort and Inthanon Highland Resort.  There is a map on the Thai Birding site.


Turn down this road.

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We tried two different areas.  The road on the left as indicated by the sign leads to a couple farms but no one around to explain anything about the parakeets.  The Thai Birding map tells you to keep going down the road on the right as shown here.


Don’t turn left at the first shelter, it leads to a private home.

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This is the correct “shelter with corrugated iron roof”.  Drive past it a couple hundred metres and watch the trees on the left.

IMG_0046 IMG_0048 IMG_0049Find a place to park and keep your eyes out.  The parakeets started arriving around 4:30pm.  Unfortunately they perched fairly far from the road where you can park.  The land between the road and the trees is private property and I didn’t want to trespass on it.  So I used every bit of my 400mm lens for these shots!

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A few other birds can be found there too – mostly bulbuls, sparrows, swallows and doves.  There were a couple Bee-eaters just before entering the area.

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IMG_9873 IMG_9880After visiting Doi Inthanon NP, we went back the 2nd evening hoping for better views.  The birds were still far away but the light was somewhat better.

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We went back to the road that goes left to the “sanctuary” and still not a bird in sight.  It looks like someone is leaving food for them or that could just be a Spirit House offering but still no humans around to ask.

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And another beautiful sunset to end the 2nd day.

IMG_0123For some reason I can’t crop in the WordPress package so these are out of sequence but at least you can see the birds a bit better!  The females have a lavender head and only a hint of a ring.  The males have a brighter magenta “blossom” head and a clearly defined ring around their necks.

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Alexandrine Parakeet (Psittacula eupatria)

The Alexandrine Parakeet or Alexandrian Parrot (Psittacula eupatria) is a member of the psittaciformes order and of the Psittaculidae family. The species is named after Alexander the Great, who is credited (blamed) with the exporting of numerous specimens of this bird from Punjab into various European and Mediterranean countries and regions, where they were considered prized possessions for the nobles and royalty.

IMG_3712a IMG_3650a IMG_3645a IMG_3628a IMG_3626a IMG_3609aThe Alexandrine Parakeet is the largest species of all Parakeet (small Parrot with long tail) species, thus often being the largest Parrot in their native range. This species measures 58 cm (23 in) in total length with a wing length averaging 18.9–21.5 cm (7.5–8.5 in) and a tail length of 21.5–35.5 cm (8.5–14.0 in).

The following sub-species, many of them allopatric are recognised based on geographical distribution:

  • Psittacula eupatria eupatria, Nominate Alexandrine Parakeet – East India to Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh in the South, Sri Lanka.
  • Psittacula eupatria avensis, Indo-Burmese Alexandrine Parakeet – Northeast India to Amherst in Myanmar
  • Psittacula eupatria magnirostris, Andaman Islands’ Alexandrine Parakeet – Andaman Islands
  • Psittacula eupatria nipalensis, Nepalese Alexandrine Parakeet – Eastern Afghanistan, Pakistan, North and central India, Nepal, Bhutan to Assam in Northeast India.
  • Psittacula eupatria siamensis, Laos’ or Siamese Alexandrine Parakeet – Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, north and east Thailand

Of these, I have seen the nominate and the Nepalese subspecies.


Because they have such a large range, you can plan birding trips to Central and South-east Asia and have a good chance to spot them.  I have seen them in Chitwan National Park, Nepal & Kithulgala & Sinharaja in Sri Lanka.



World Parrot Trust



It’s surprisingly hard to find videos of these parrots on Youtube as they are so popular as pets.  At least I found one from Sri Lanka!

List Of Parrots In Thailand

Blue-rumped Parrot  – Psittinus cyanurus

Alexandrine Parakeet   – Psittacula eupatria

Grey-headed Parakeet    – Psittacula finschii

Blossom-headed Parakeet  – Psittacula roseata

Red-breasted Parakeet  – Psittacula alexandri

Vernal Hanging Parrot –   Loriculus vernalis

Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot  –   Loriculus galgulus