The Poicephalus

Quick Facts

- Best for experienced owners
- Best solo, in pairs or small groups; varies per bird
- Small-medium size
- Medium activity level
- Medium Trainability
- Medium sociability with people

Poicephalus are small to medium size parrots that are native to Africa. There are many different types of Poicephalus, but unlike most other families of birds, they do not share a similar name. There are nine different species of Poicephalus; the Senegal, Brown-headed, Meyer's, Jardine's, Red-bellied, Yellow-faced, Niam-niam, Ruppell's and the Cape Parrot. The Senegal, Meyers, Jardine's and the Red-bellied Parrot are the most popular Poicephalus kept as pets.

Poicephalus are playful clever birds. They are intelligent and usually easy to train, and are fast learners. They can be taught to do tricks and mimic human speech. However, they are not as gifted at talking as some of the larger parrots like the African Grey.

Poicephalus are far quieter than most of the other types of parrots. They are not given to screeching and screaming; they make quiet chirping and whistling sounds. They are good birds for apartment dwellers, as their noise should not disturb the neighbours. They are easy birds to keep in comparison to most of the other parrots; they are not as demanding nor do they need constant attention. They are moderately independent birds; however, they do require some daily attention, especially if owners would like them tame. Poicephalus are usually sociable birds that can live happily with other Poicephalus, and some can peacefully cohabitate with other types of pet birds. However, temperaments vary per individual bird and some Poicephalus prefer to live alone and will injure or even kill other birds

Poicephalus are best suited for an experienced owner as they can be a little nippy if not well socialized and tamed. Once they are tamed, they are fairly cuddly and affectionate. They can be very one personish if not well socialized. They are very playful and love to clown around, and play on swings and climb. As they are active birds, they enjoy a large cage with lots of toys, ladders and a swing. Their cage should be at least one and a half times the bird’s wingspan, this ensures they have lots of room to stretch out their wings and flap them; usually a 18 x 18 x 24 inch cage works nicely. They love to chew and should have lots of different chew toys to help them wear down their beaks.

Appearance and Care:
Poicephalus Parrots are small to medium in size. From head to tail, they measure 8-12 inches. They vary in colour, but most have bright vibrant plumage. The Senegal is grey or black, with a green, orange or yellow breast. The Meyers is grey or black with a turquoise back, aqua breast and yellow shoulder flashes and head patch. The Jardines has black and green wings, green head, belly and under parts, and orange or red socks and forehead. The Red-bellied Parrot is a grey-green colour with touches of red; males have red-orange chests.

Poicephalus Parrots require bathing several times a week. They should be offered a shallow dish with a couple of inches of warm water to splash around in.

Health and Diet:
Poicephalus Parrots are hardy birds with an average life span of 25-40 years. Some Poicephalus are prone to liver problems, aspergillosis infections, overgrown beaks and internal parasites like worms. A sick Poicephalus will show signs of inactivity, noisy breathing, lack of activity and appetite, sneezing, cloudy eyes, weight loss, bleeding, droopy wings and ruffled feathers. At the first signs of illness, they should be taken to their veterinarian.

Poicephalus Parrots require a diet of fresh fruits and vegetables and a good quality seed mix. They tend to enjoy fruits more than vegetables. Most Poicephalus like grapes, cherries, bean sprouts, peanuts, apples, oranges, peppers, radishes and yams. They should be given a cuttle bone or calcium block, and require fresh water daily. All fruits and vegetables should be washed thoroughly to ensure they are clean of pesticides, and all fruit should be carefully deseeded, as some fruit seeds contain cyanide and are poisonous to birds.


Located in: Birds