Poicephalus – 9 African Parrot Species not Ending in Grey

nian niam parrot (poicephalus)
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Editor’s note: this post was written almost 4 years ago to the day. I’m using it in an answer on Quora regarding how to quiet birds.

There was no way to have predicted at the writing of this article that we would become companion to a Senegal (poicephalus) parrot. The universe is too complicated to be arbitrary.

Thank you to Ann K. one of our Facebook fans. She’s planning on getting a Cape Parrot soon and was unable to find a lot of information on this particular species.

She requested that we provide some information on this little-known type of bird. So we will start with the Cape Parrot but we are going to cover all the Poicephalus Parrots species.  

Poicephalus Parrots are African Parrots including – Senegal Parrots, Meyer’s Parrots, Jardine’s Parrots, Rueppell’s Parrots, Red-bellied Parrots, Yellow-faced Parrots, Brown-headed Parrots, Niam Niam AND Cape Parrots (South African Cape Parrots, Brown-necked Parrots & Grey-headed Parrots – technically speaking)  

Because we’re focused on Poicephalus Parrots, the other African bird species including Vasa Parrots, Lovebirds and African Ringnecks will be covered in other articles.

According to Thor’s Cape Parrot Site, “In captivity Cape Parrots (aka Levaillant’s Parrot) are often referred to as the ‘gentle giants’……” They are the largest of the Poicephalus family and have a relatively large head and beak.

They’re typically 13 to 14 inches long and weigh anywhere from approximately 200 – 400+ grams with most Cape Parrots being in the 300 g weight range. They can live 30 years but usually live 15 to 20 and sexually mature in 3 to 5 years.

They’re shy birds and don’t demand a lot of attention reaching independence once hitting sexual maturity. They are playful and full of energy but not necessarily great talkers according to Susanclubb.com.

Cape Parrots come in three flavors, South African Cape Parrots, Brown-necked Parrots & Grey-headed Parrots – South African Cape Parrots are the species primarily found here in the US as pets.  

Senegal Parrots are medium-sized parrots about 10 inches long, and weigh about 100 – 170 g ( between 4 and 6 ounces) and can live up to 50 years in captivity. They make great pets, are a lot of fun and actually a lot quieter than other types of parrots. In a family situation, it’s important that all the family members socialize with the young bird on a regular basis otherwise Senegal Parrots can become a “one person” bird.

Although Senegal Parrots are not sexually dimorphic, the C-shape of the chest is usually longer on the females and the green area generally extends over the chest down between the legs while male Senegal parrots generally have the green area that ends halfway or at the middle of the chest.

Usually a females beak as well as their head are a smidge smaller than the males and lastly male Senegal Parrots are usually although not always bigger than their female counterparts overall.  

Meyer’s Parrots are felt by some to be the prettiest among the African Parrots with their iridescent turquoise feathers. They are fun, playful, love to swing and dangle and will lie on their back and do silly things with their feet while playing with toys.

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He's handled a 1000 birds of numerous species when they would visit their monthly birdie brunch in the old Portage Park (Chicago, IL) facility. The one with the parrot playground. Mitch has written and published more than 1100 articles on captive bird care. He's met with the majority of  CEO's and business owners for most brands in the pet bird space and does so on a regular basis. He also constantly interacts with avian veterinarians and influencers globally.