Tell apart Plum-headed and Blossom-headed Parakeets

The plum-headed and blossom-headed parakeets can be confusing at first. There are quite a few  photos and videos marked incorrectly which I guess is due to that fact that plum-headed(Psittacula cyanocephala) was sometimes known by the name of blossom-headed parakeet. But blossom-headed is now used to refer only to Psittacula roseata. Lets us look at the main points that can clear up the confusion.

Head&Neck Color: The plum-headed parakeet’s head is deep read nearing maroon. The hind parts of the head is a deep purple-blue i.e. just like a plum. The neck below the black neck band is a different color from the rest of the body – it is a greenish-blue. The blossom-headed parakeet on the hand has a very pale pink head, Its hind head is marked by a very pale ,almost whitish blue. The neck below the black neck ring is same green as the rest of the body.

Dear friend, I hope these roses placed side by side will help you remember how  differently their heads are colored. The first for the male plum-headed parakeet’s head color and the second for the male blossom-headed parakeets head color.

Photo1 courtesy of Susan Liepa Photo2 courtesy of Betsie Nel

Range: The blossom-headed parakeet is a bird of the North-East India, beyond into other countries east of India like Myanmar,Laos,Cambodia,Thailand etc.So if you see a pale pinkish headed parakeet, in North-Eastern India,well, it is the blossom head. The plum-headed parakeets are present in other parts of India but absent in North-East.

Tail Tip Color: Both the male and female plum-headed parakeets have a very long, very noticeable white tip to their blue tails. The blossom-heads have a small yellow tip to their tails.

Shoulder patch for females: The plum-headed parakeet female has no shoulder patch. The blossom-headed female parakeet looks very similar to the counterpart but it has a shoulder patch present  just like the male’s shoulder patch.
The diagrams below helps you visualize some of  the tips listed above, with reference to the birds.
plum-headed parakeet features                                                              Photo Courtesy of  michaelandhelencox
blossom-headed parakeet main filed marks                                                     Photo Courtesy of Vijay Anand Ismavel

Further Resources
These are two excellent videos which will clarify once and for all what the blossom-headed parakeets look like.
Blossom-headed parakeet at Nehru Zoological Park Hyderabad
Blossom-headed parakeet Vietnam

Checkout great images at this link from oriental bird images

Plum-headed parakeet page @ Wikipedia
Blossom-headed parakeet page @ Wikipedia
Plum-headed parakeet page @ World Parrot Trust
Blossom-headed parakeet page @ World Parrot Trust

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