Small - To Medium-Sized
Poicephalus are a group of small African parrots best known
for their quiet voices and gentle dispositions. Their natural calls
are quiet beeps and whistles, and most of the poicephalus can be
taught tricks. Many learn to talk, though in a small, mechanical
The best known of this group is the Senegal parrot (Poicepbalus
senegalus). They are chunky short-tailed parrots colored greenish
gray and either bright lemon-yellow or bright orange. In their early
years, Senegals need an understanding owner who can teach them the
rules of “good” parrot behavior. They can be shy birds, but usually
bond well with their owners and make good companions.
Meyer’s parrots (P. meyeri) are also good pets among the
poicephalus, with different coloration but a similar shape to the
Senegal. Less well known, but even sweeter, the brown-headed parrots
(P. cryptoxanthus) are more drab in coloration. Their underwings are
a bright yellow; everything else about them is gray/green and olive.
Another cousin, the red-bellied parrot (P. rufiventris) is
dimorphic, meaning that the sexes have different colorations when
they become mature. Jardine’s parrots (P. gulielmi) are larger and
more expensive than their smaller, squat cousins. Jardine’s are
green birds with feathers edged in black and bright orange trim on
their heads and wings.
Poicephalus range in initial cost from $350 to $600 dollars
or more. They need to live in parrot cages, with sturdy bars but
small bar spacing. The larger their cage the better, as they enjoy
playing and frolicking. Poicephalus enjoy a playgym and access to
swings and toys. They benefit from exposure to different situations
when they are young, as they are generally shy by nature.
Poicephalus eat a parrot diet supplemented with fruits and
vegetables. Ask your veterinarian about supplementing heir diet with
calcium. There are some excellent new books available about the care
of poicephalus; take time to learn more before acquiring one.
People looking for a real “parrot” experience in a compact
size will appreciate poicephalus. If you’re interested in trick
training or talking ability, you’ll have an enthusiastic subject
with which to work. They are compact parrots that are on the quiet
side. If they are taught their manners, they can be acceptable
apartment parrots. However, poicephalus can scream. Their volume
does not rival a larger parrot, but it is a behavior not to be
Poicephalus are very shy by nature. Expose your young bird
to a variety of locations, people and situations in order to
socialize it. If visitors or caretakers frighten your bird, ask them
not to look your bird in the eye. Humans have “predator” faces, with
both our eyes looking forward. Poicephalus can be understanding of
work schedules and keep themselves entertained without becoming
stressed, and their owners are great fans of these little guys.