Senegal Parrot - Poicephalus Senegalus - Least Conern
The Senegal parrot (Poicephalus senegalus) is a parrot which is a resident breeder across a wide range of west Africa. It makes migrations within west Africa, according to the availability of the fruit, seeds and blossoms which make up its diet. It is considered a farm pest in Africa, often feeding on maize or millet. It is popular in aviculture.
Taxonomy: In 1760 the French zoologist Mathurin Jacques Brisson included a description of the Senegal parrot in his Ornithologie based on a specimen collected in Senegal. He used the French name La petite perruche du Sénégal and the Latin name Psittacula senegalensis. Although Brisson coined Latin names, these do not conform to the binomial system and are not recognised by the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature. When in 1766 the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus updated his Systema Naturae for the twelfth edition he added 240 species that had been previously described by Brisson. One of these was the Senegal parrot. Linnaeus included a terse description, coined the binomial name Psittacus senegalus and cited Brisson's work. This species is now placed in the genus Poicephalus which was introduced by the English naturalist William John Swainson in 1837.
There are two subspecies.
P. s. senegalus (the nominate subspecies): this subspecies has a yellow vest; its native range includes Senegal, southern Mauritania, southern Mali to Guinea and Lobos Island.
P. s. versteri: this subspecies has a deep-orange /red vest; its range is from the Ivory Coast and Ghana east to western Nigeria.
They do not differ in behavior, but only in the colour of the "vest". In the pet trade, the nominate subspecies is the most common though both are raised and sold as pets.
Description: Senegal parrots are about 23 centimeters (9.1 inches) long, weigh about 120 to 170 grams (4.2 to 6.0 ounces). 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, bright yellow irises, reen 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. Young Juveniles have dark grey, almost black, irises, which change to light grey.
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.
Habitat: Senegal parrots are birds of open woodland and savanna. They flock most commonly in countries in West Africa. 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.
Behavior: Senegal parrots nest in holes in trees, often oil palms, usually laying three to four white eggs. The eggs are about 3 centimeters (1.2 inches) long by 2.5 centimeters (1 inch) 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 after hatching. They are dependent on the female for food and warmth who remains in the nest most of the time until about four weeks after 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 after 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 after hatching.
Aviculture: 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 along with mimics, but they are not as noisy as many other parrot species. They make for a good companion and are quite friendly compared to other parrot species. Senegal parrots are independent at times, needing a very fair amount of sleep during the day. Keeping two as pets can very well aid the parrots social and physical health as they have a companion.
Wild caught Senegal parrots do not usually become tame, and do not make good pets.
Psittaciformes, The Parrot Index, a part of Phoenix Feathers © 2016 - 2023
Page last updated: 1/1/2320