Avian Species Menu

Senegal Parrot

Senegal Parrot

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Species Organizations

National Audubon Society
Website: www.audubon.org
Cornell Lab of Orinthology
Website: www.birds.cornell.edu
The Avian Web
Website: www.avianweb.com

Classification
Order Psittaciformes, Family Psittacidae
Scientific Name
Poicephalus Senegalus
Other Common Names
N/A
Species Description
Senegal Parrots are about 23 cm long, weigh about 125 to 170 gm and they look stocky. They have a relatively large head and beak for their overall size, and feathers form a short broad tail. Adults have a charcoal grey head, grey beak, yellow irises, green back and throat, and yellow underparts and rump. The yellow and green areas on a Senegal Parrot's front form a V-shape resembling a yellow vest worn over green. Juveniles have dark grey, almost black, irises.

Senegal Parrots are not sexually dimorphic, but there are some hypotheses which sometimes might help to determine the gender of adult birds:

The V-shape of the vest is usually longer in females; in females the green area extends down over the chest to between the legs, whereas in males the tip of the green area ends midway down the chest. The female's beak and head are generally slightly smaller and narrower than the male's. The under-tail covert feathers (short feathers under the base of the main tail feathers) are generally mostly yellow in the male and generally mostly green in the female.

Males are generally, but not always, larger and heavier than female birds.

It is a gregarious species, continuously chattering with a range of whistling and squawking calls. Senegal Parrots live an average of approximately 25-30 years in the wild, and have been known to live for 50 years in captivity.

Senegal parrots nest in holes in trees, often oil palms, usually laying three to four white eggs. The eggs are about 3cm long x 2.5cm wide. The eggs are incubated by the female, starting after the second egg has been laid, for about 27 to 28 days. Newly hatched chicks have a sparse white down and they do not open their eyes until about two to three weeks from hatching. They are dependent on the female for food and warmth who remains in the nest most of the time until about four weeks from hatching when the chicks have enough feathers for heat insulation. During this time the male brings food for the female and chicks, and guards the nest site. From about two to four weeks from hatching the female also begins to collect food for the chicks. The chicks fly out of the nest at about 9 weeks and they become independent from their parents at about 12 weeks from hatching.

There are three subspecies. They do not differ in behavior, but only in the color of the "vest". In the pet trade, the nominate subspecies is the most common though all three are raised and sold as pets.

1. Poicephalus senegalus senegalus (the nominate subspecies): this subspecies has a yellow vest; its native range includes southern Mauritania, southern Mali to Guinea and Lobos Island.
2. Poicephalus senegalus mesotypus: this subspecies has an orange vest; its range is from eastern and northeastern Nigeria and Cameroon into southwest Chad.
3. Poicephalus senegalus versteri: this subspecies has a red vest; its range is from the Ivory Coast and Ghana east to western Nigeria.


Habitat
Senegal Parrots are birds of open woodland and savanna.

Distribution
The vast range in Africa

Captivity
Senegal Parrots live an average of approximately 25-30 years in the wild, and have been known to live for 50 years in captivity.

Hand reared Senegal Parrots are one of the most popular parrots to be kept as pets, and the most popular Poicephalus parrot. Their calls are generally high pitched whistles and squawks, but they are not as noisy as many other parrot species. An indoor cage at least 4 ft x 3 ft x 3 ft or an outdoor aviary at least 6 ft x 6 ft 3 ft wide would be suitable.

Wild caught Senegal Parrots do not usually become tame and do not make good pets.

Senegal Parrots are relatively easy to breed in captivity and there is a small industry in breeding and hand rearing Senegal Parrots and other parrots for the pet trade. In aviculture Senegal Parrots can start to breed at the age of 3 to 4 years, but some do not breed until age 6 or 7 years.

Senegal Parrot nest boxes can be any of a variety of sizes and shapes; but for example, a nest box about 18 iches high and 8 inches to 10 inches square would be suitable. An exit and entrance port about 2.5 inches in diameter would be suitable, and the birds may enlarge the port by chewing the wood. Nest boxes generally have a secure side door for inspecting the nest.
Meyers are very playful and energetic. Environmental enrichment is important. They should always be provided with toys, wooden blocks that can be chewed and branches from non-toxic trees. In order to ensure safety, companion birds should not be allowed unsupervised freedom in the home. Young birds should be socialized to many people and exposed to a variety of situations such as new cages, toys, visits to the veterinarian, handling by friends, wing and nail clips, to avoid fear of novel situations.


Summary
Parrots, also known as psittacines, are birds of the roughly 372 species in 86 genera that make up the order Psittaciformes, found in most warm and tropical regions. The order is subdivded in three families: the Psittacidae (true parrots), the Cacatuidae (cockatoos) and the Nestoridae. Parrots have a pan-tropical distribution with several species inhabiting the temperate Southern Hemisphere as well. The greatest diversity of parrots is found in South America and Australia.

Characteristic features of parrots include a strong curved bill, an upright stance, strong legs, and clawed zygodactyl feet. Most parrots are predominantly green, with other bright colors, and some species are multi-colored. Cockatoo species range from mostly white to mostly black, and have a mobile crest of feathers on the top of their heads. Most parrots are monomorphic or minimally sexually dimorphic. Extant species range in size from the Buff-faced Pygmy-parrot, at under 10 g (0.35 oz.) in weight and 8 cm (3.2 inches) in length, to the Hyacinth Macaw, at 1.0 meter (3.3 feet) in length, and the Kakapo, at 4.0 kg (8.8 lbs) in weight. They are the most variably sized bird order in terms of length.

The most important components of most parrots' diets are seeds, nuts, fruit, buds and other plant material, and a few species also eat insects and small animals, and the lories and lorikeets are specialised to feed on nectar from flowers, and soft fruits. Almost all parrots nest in tree holes (or nestboxes in captivity), and lay white eggs from which emerge altricial (helpless) young.

Parrots, along with crows, jays and magpies, are some of the most intelligent birds, and the ability of some parrot species to imitate human voices enhances their popularity as pets. Trapping of wild parrots for the pet trade, as well as other hunting, habitat loss and competition from invasive species, have diminished wild populations, and parrots have been subjected to more exploitation than any other group of birds. Recent conservation measures to conserve the habitats of some of the high-profile charismatic parrot species has also protected many of the less charismatic species living in the ecosystem.


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