The “Linnie” Or Lineolated Parakeet

The lineolated parakeet, also known as the "linnie," might be hard to find, but they make a great pet bird!

The lineolated parakeet is also known as the linnie. Robert Hambley/Hemera/Thinkstock
The lineolated parakeet is also known as the linnie. Robert Hambley/Hemera/Thinkstock

By Diane Grindol

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The lineolated parakeet (Bolborhynchus lineola) has a small fanbase, but seems to be practically a secret to the general pet-owning population. Here is my attempt to bring the linnie to the limelight! If that name is a mouthful, you can refer to this parrot as the “linnie.” Bolborhynchus means “parakeet with a large beak.” Don’t be intimidated; lineolated parakeets aren’t prone to use theirs on you. It is also referred to as the barred parakeet because, in most color mutations, there are black bars on the feathers on their backs and wings.

A lineolated parakeet’s natural call is soft and almost song-like. A linnie can learn to talk and whistle. You can keep a lineolated parakeet in an apartment or similar housing where you have close neighbors. Lineolated parakeets are about the size of a budgie or lovebird, with a calmer disposition than either pet bird.

Linnies come in lutino, albino, cobalt, blue and mauve color mutations, as well as the green color of wild lineolated parakeets and a dark green and olive green. They are native to Central and South America. One subspecies of lineolated parakeets, Bolborhynchus lineola lineola, is found from southern Mexico to western Panama. Another subspecies, Bolborhynchus lineola tigrinus, is native to northwest Venezuela and the Andes, Colombia and Peru. Linnies come from higher-elevation cloud forests and rain forests, though they also forage at lower elevations during the winter. In the wild, they are found in flocks of up to 20 birds.

Lineolated Parakeet Care

Keep your linnie in a spacious bird cage with close bar spacing. Linnies like to sleep in tents or huts, and they love to climb. Offer them swings, dangly toys and rope perches so they get plenty of climbing in. (As with other small birds, offer toys or perches that have rope strands only under supervision so they don’t get a leg caught in them.) Other toys include ladders, landing perches and dangly bells or beads.

Supervise a linnie if it is out of the cage at the same time as other birds. These are peaceful birds and don’t do well if confronted by more aggressive species. Never leave a linnie out of its cage alone with a companion dog or cat.

Give your linnie a shower or bath. They’re natives of the rain forest and will like being misted often, joining you in the misty bathroom air when you shower, or being offered a bowl in which to bathe.

Linnies As Pets

Linnie pet owners love the gentle, inquisitive nature of their birds. Some are shy, and very few are nippy. Shy birds can be won over with exposure to a variety of household activity, by feeding them outside their cage and by offering treats when you walk by.

Linnies hold food in their feet and like to hang upside-down. They walk with their bodies held parallel to the perch, unlike their more upright budgie cousins! They’re likely to have this posture when they’re at rest, too. Linnies express themselves by tail fanning and emitting soft, pleasant vocalizations. If you like lovebirds, but want a little more low-key pet bird, this is your parrot.

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Birds · Lifestyle

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