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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.