Jean (The African Queen) Pattison
6615 New Tampa Highway
Lakeland, Florida 33815, U. S. A.
The question I’m most often asked is, “Of all the Poicephalus you raise, which species is your favorite”? Oh, that is easy, it has to be the Senegal (Poicephalus senegalus), the most well know of this wonderful little group of birds. Poicephalus parrots love their caretakers and almost resent any affection shown to anyone but them. The Senegal Parrot can be almost problematic in this regard, but with this knowledge before hand, it should not be a problem.
The Senegal Parrot is irresistible, dressed in his orange “V-shirt” and full of the devil himself. Senegals find many ways to keep themselves entertained, and are happy in their cages full of toys. Some Senegals learn huge vocabularies and quite often they will use words appropriately.
Well..., then there is the Meyer’s (Poicephalus meyeri). Perhaps that is the one I like the best. Meyer's are a softer bird than the Senegal, not nearly as “pushy” and abrasive when trying to get attention. They are the happiest when loving you. Meyer’s seem to be a bit more intellectual, and prefer toys that they have to “think” about. Knots in rawhide laces or rope keep them entertained for hours.
OOPS, I almost forgot, the Red-bellied Parrot (Poicephalus rufiventris). Red-bellieds will show off in front of anyone and do anything to get your attention. They very often play dead, causing you to run to their cage in horror, or they will stand on their heads and even learn to be escape artists. Red-bellieds are the life of the party, and they know it. I have found they are the best talkers of the small Poicephalus, and true to form, they will talk even in front of company.
Oh...the Brown-headed parrot (Poicephalus cryptoxanthus) I almost missed that one. These are like the well-known blind date, “not much on looks but what a great personality”. Brown-headed Parrots are even more loving than the Meyer’s. I have sold many to families with small children, and they do very well, and some even welcome the gentle, supervised handling from smaller children.
Of course, I do like a bigger bird once in awhile, and the Jardine’s Parrot (Poicephalus gulielmi) just fits the bill for a medium-sized parrot. Jardine’s are the Amazons of the Poicephalus in the way the just plain love life. It seems they wake up each morning, glad to be alive and just waiting for what the world has in store, just for them. Most Jardine’s Parrots love lying on their backs and this can be anywhere, in the food dish or on the floor and some even learn to hang on the cage wire while lying on their perches. Jardine’s will also wrap them selves up in the newspaper, or crawl under it and hide.
Last, there is there are the Brown-necked and Grey-headed Parrots (Poicephalus fuscicollis). (These are the parrot that used to be known as Cape Parrots in the U.S., but their names have changed as a result of new scientific studies.) Brown-necked and Grey-headed Parrots appears to be the size of an African grey (Psittacus erithacus) but some are actually considerably smaller. Typical weights vary from 250-400 depending on sex and subspecies. These birds are the cream-of-the-crop when it comes to Poicephalus. These are birds with giant beaks, are true sweethearts, and who love affection and time to interact with their caretakers.They are very playful and highly energetic; they need a rather large cage and a separate play area. They do not seem to become cage bound as some of the other species of birds, but a lot of toys are a must. They especially need toys for chewing, so plenty of softwood is required in their cages and the play area.
A friend of mine, Scott Lewis, when referring to the Brown-necked and Grey-headed Parrots always says, “It don’t get any better than this.” I whole-heartedly have to agree.
Poicephalus over all are pretty close in temperament and attitude. They are fairly quiet birds, and great for apartment living. Most learn to talk and some can have large vocabularies. When owning Poicephalus you never have to feel guilty about them not having another bird for companionship. More often than not, a hand raised Poicephalus is resentful about the new addition. Poicephalus are very devoted to their caretaker and expect the same in return. A new addition sometimes causes the resident companion bird much resentment and aggressive behavior. Very often people find the new bird does not work out and need to find it a new home. If you own a Poicephalus and want another, by all means get a hand-fed weaned baby, but get it for you, not for the purpose of keeping your pet company. You are the only company your Poicephalus wants.
Seriously, I don’t know if I could actually choose a favorite in the Poicephalus genus. Each species has its own unique qualities, and I guess, the one I love the best, is the one I’m with at the time.
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