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  The Poicephalus and I, An Introduction
by Terry Beaudoin
VOL 9 No 6 #50 Companion Parrot Quarterly (fka -- Pet Bird Report)

As Sally has been kind enough to ask me to write what will hopefully be a series of articles on different companion bird topics, I would like to mention where and how my opinions have been developed on the birds that I feel comfortable writing about. I have worked with birds since I was seven years old (30 'gulp' years). These years have included working with raptors, many other types of native birds and of course members of the parrot family. In the time I have had the pleasure of being around these wonderful birds I have raised a number of species, done a substantial amount of behavioral work and worked as a veterinary technician in a practice that saw exotic animals including birds. Without a doubt, the observations of the people who have had long term relationships with these birds (especially those purchased from me) has been, and continues to be my most educational source of how these wonderful animals do in our homes as our companions. In the case of the poicephalus parrots I have had 11+ years with Meyers, Red Bellied and Senegals and 5+ years with Jardines, of both direct experience and the excellent feedback from my customers that have these birds. In my opinion this has given me a perspective that many so-called experts lack - that of hearing about how many of these birds do at ages from a few weeks old to 12+ years old in a great variety of situations. Some of these homes have children, some are single, some married, some have many different people around, some do not -these are the varying conditions that parrots are asked to live in. Hearing from these people has allowed me to develop a better picture of these birds in captivity as companion animals. I would also like to thank Dr. Tammy Jenkins of St. Francis Animal Hospital for all her observations over the years. She is a true rarity in a veterinarian in many ways not the least of which is her interest in parrot behavior and its relationship to the health and well being of her clients pets. She has given me the benefit of her observations and those of her clients on the many poicephalus (as well as other birds) that she sees in her practice.

When I have seen specific generalizations made by self proclaimed experts that from my experience seem simplistic or just wrong I can guess that most of these people's experience was probably derived from breeding those birds. In my experience most breeders have pairs of birds that are not pets - in fact most breeders would never think of interacting with their birds beyond the daily feeding and watering of them. Some breeders may even have one or two of the birds they are trying to generalize about as pets. But I do not think that one or two individuals who are in the same home give a clear picture of how that species of bird will do in the many different environments it may find itself in. Breeders and aviculturalists who quote feedback on their birds from many people who are keeping them as long-term companions get my attention when they speak or write about their birds. I see this kind of experience-based information as the best way for us to learn about companion parrots living in our homes. It goes without saying that the only place I consistently find this kind of information is in the Companion Parrot Quarterly (fka -- Pet Bird Report). Now on to the actual topic of this article.

I would like to begin by talking about these birds as a group. I have found many similarities between Senegals, Meyers, Red Bellies and Jardines. In upcoming articles I will write about each of these types of poicephalus and some of the species-specific differences that I have noticed between them.

My first experience with a member of the poicephalus parrots was with Senegal Parrots. At that time (1979) the other members of the poicephalus were by and large unheard of in the pet trade. The veterinarian I was volunteering for asked me if I had an interest in working for a local pet store chain. He was the only veterinarian I knew of in the entire Twin Cities area that had an interest in exotic animal medicine. The company had 7 stores and I would be managing the health and care of their birds from their arrival initially in MN (these were all imported birds) until they were ready to go to the stores for sale. There were two reasons I decided to accept the job: 1) This store chain was the only one to follow the Doctor's suggestions as far as quarantine and the feeding of medicated bird food, designed to prevent Chlamydia outbreaks, to all new arrivals for 45 days.

Remember, that at this time this was state of the art in veterinary management. 2) For a 16-year-old kid who wanted to be a zoo vet it seemed like a pretty neat opportunity. Little did I know what I had got myself into. Up until this point I had been raising cockatiels from the 6 pairs of birds I had had for a long time. I soon found that my ideas of caring for each bird as an individual were not the norm for the avicultural and pet store world. The first time that we received a shipment of birds from the broker located in CA I was shocked. These birds were packed for mass shipment and terrified. The worst example of this was the parakeets. They were typically packed 50 birds to a box that was 2'L X1'W by 9"H. Usually of these birds would arrive dead from having piled on top of each other in fear until they had suffocated. The Senegal parrots were a little better off (because of the increased value of $100 per bird as opposed to the $2 to $4 value of the parakeets) having been packed 10 birds to a container. Many times there would be dead birds in the container. At this time we would count how many toes the birds had left. Some would be missing eyes or have other damage. As you can imagine these birds were terrified and sure that they were in a life and death situation. I would like to interject here that this company was viewed as by far the best at how they treated their animals in the entire upper Midwest area. Most other aviaries and stores conditions were much worse.

The only way to move these birds without injury to them or, on a much lesser degree to me, was to either net them or drops a towel over them and gently move them to a holding cage. The method recommended by most books was to use welder's gloves and just grab the birds. For some reason this did not seem like a good idea to me. Needless to say the birds were terrified, noticeably more than any other of the birds that came in. The only other birds that came close were the African Greys. These Senegals would fling themselves into the sides of their cage and try to push themselves through the bars when we were only trying to feed them. How was it going to be possible to gain their trust at this point? Even with the substantial effort I put into these poor birds the limited understanding of parrots that we had at this time allowed me to get them used to being in their cages without being terrified of people approaching or feeding them - but that was about it. I, like many at this time believed that the African parrots (especially the Senegals and few Meyers we saw the next year) were some of the most difficult of the wild caught parrots to 'tame'. Certainly the Cockatoos, Amazons, Macaws and Conures that were the other commonly imported birds at this time handled this terrifying experience much better. The best I was able to achieve with these birds in the relatively short time that I had them was to get a few of them to step onto my hand - most of the time without biting it.

About 1981 we began to see the newest trend in pet birds - the handfed baby. The first handfed Senegal Parrots that I had experience with were little better than the wild caught birds. At this time the hand feeding process consisted of having a number of birds piled into a plastic bucket or Rubbermaid container and the handfeeder grabbing each birds head long enough to push that birds entire meal down it's throat as quickly as possible so they can move onto the next group of birds to be fed. Unfortunately, many breeders still operate this way. The word 'socialization' as it applied to parrot babies was unknown at this time. The hand feeding process itself was supposed to be enough to produce a perfect pet for anyone who paid the extra (approximately double - wildcaught Senegals sold for $200 & handfed birds were $400) cost of these birds. Although these birds were easier to train in some of the basics, stepping onto a hand, staying on a perch, etc., it was still notoriously difficult to gain their trust. These birds were typically anywhere from 8 to 16 weeks old and seemed incredibly reactive even though they had gone through this miraculous handfeeding process. It was interesting to me that certain birds, most notably Umbrella Cockatoos were vastly easier to work with whether handfed or not. At this time I was actually considering owning either a Moluccan or Umbrella Cockatoo. Not that these birds can not be wonderful pets but, thank God I waited long enough to learn what it took to do well with one and realized that it probably would not fit in my schedule. At this time I was working full time for the veterinarians that would eventually be my partners in opening Parrot Island back in 1988 as well as attending the U of MN full time, volunteering 15 - 20 hours a week at The Raptor Rehabilitation Clinic and working part-time for the pet store chain - I don't remember having much time for sleep. By late 1985 I no longer wanted to work for the pet store chain. Though they did a better job with their animals than any other store I knew of they still were not caring for them in a way I thought ethical.

In 1989 I was to meet two guys who changed many of my viewpoints on the raising of birds in captivity. Jim and Tom Peterson (who unfortunately no longer raise birds) were responsible for teaching me that a breeder could keep a flock of birds who were fed a good diet containing many fresh foods in a clean healthy environment. They were also intelligent enough to realize they needed people whose job was just the socialization of their young birds. Tom was especially helpful and was always interested to hear about how the babies that I purchased from him did. Particularly if I had noticed anything about their behaviors that might make that bird a better pet. He was the first person I spoke to who not only was interested in my observations but saw the value of choosing both the bird species and individuals of that species whose genetics seemed to cause them to do better with the average person in a home situation. Sam, my Double Yellow Headed Amazon, Columbo, my wife Shari's Double Yellow Head (who is Sam's half brother) and Scooter her Black Capped Caique are all examples of this selective breeding.

The first Senegal Parrots that I received from Jim and Tom were only three weeks old. Even back in 1989 they felt it was better to allow the parents to raise their offspring for the first few weeks as long as those parents had a history of success. They did this instead of incubator hatching all their babies, as was the recommended method. These little balls of white fluff were some of the first truly 'cute' baby parrots I had raised. I was used to bald, pink, spikey-quilled cockatiel babies at this same age. They needed to be fed every three to four hours and began to crave any attention we would give them from about four weeks of age on. This clutch of babies completely changed my mind about Senegals and I also guessed the same would be true of the other African parrots who were treated similarly. As a note: In my experience poicephalus do best if they are with someone who will socialize them correctly by no older than four weeks. A number of them that I have worked with who came from a larger production style aviary and were not socialized well until five weeks or older had a more difficult time with adapting to new situations and were somewhat mistrusting of anyone new. This often happened even when their new owners did a good job. These birds do fine as well but seem to be a little trickier on average, especially during the six months to year and a half period when these have the potential to go through the 'phobic' stages many have heard of and that I will discuss later in this article. These three babies developed quickly and by five to six weeks of age were up on their perches climbing around and playing with their toys. All the poicephalus seem to enjoy playing and sleeping on their backs at this age. Many do it through their whole lives which has led to customers regularly asking 'Is that bird OK?' or 'Do you know you have a dead bird in that cage?' This age is an excellent time to start teaching all the poicephalus how to play in a towel as well as how to play with a variety of people on a blanket (we use a vinyl tablecloth) on the ground where new toys and foods can be introduced. These simple exercises have long ranging benefits and can prevent many of the common problems that poicephalus parrots are labeled with such as: being one-person birds, birds that are afraid of anything new or very cage territorial birds. It should be mentioned that these behavioral problems can be seen in any species of parrot and are not specific to the poicephalus at all. Each of the babies began to develop distinct personalities as they approached fledging age (around 7 weeks). These birds broke every rule I had seen written about Senegals and poicephalus in general. And their behaviors taught me much about how wonderful this group of parrots has the potential to be.

That initial clutch of baby Senegals sparked my interest in the whole group of poicephalus parrots. With the exception of Senegal Parrots, and the rarely seen Meyers Parrot, the other poicephalus were non-existent in our area. In fact, no one that I spoke to for the next two to three years even knew what a Red Bellied Parrot was. And after my experiences with the pet stores shipping of birds I had no interest in shipping them myself. Fortunately the Peterson's had been raising Senegals, Meyers and Red Bellies for some time. After the success I had with that first clutch of Senegals I was eager to try my luck with the Meyers and Red Bellied Parrots. I would have an average of two clutches per year of each of these birds and this began the 11+ years of developing a better understanding of these birds as companion animals.

As I mentioned earlier it became apparent that it was crucial that these birds, whether Senegals, Meyers, Red Bellies and later Jardines, get early stage interaction and socialization. And though I believe this is true of all companion birds I would say that it is even more crucial with the poicephalus than most. It should be understood that the generalizations I will next make about these birds relate to poicephalus that are properly socialized, healthy birds. Rather than go into all the specifics of socialization and care that apply to all birds I would refer you to the same source I recommend to all of my customers - Sally Blanchard's The Companion Parrot Handbook. I will mention anything that in my experience seems specific to poicephalus. Again, remember that these are generalizations based on observations that have been true for the majority of these birds that I have worked with. All of the companion birds we keep are individuals an as such can have their own quirks or be quite different as a result of their environment and upbringing.

In comparison to a number of other parrot species I have raised the Poicephalus Parrots develop very rapidly. As I will mention later this is especially true of the Red Bellied Parrots. By five or six weeks of age these birds (Senegals, Meyers and Red Bellies more so than Jardines) are doing things that I do not see other birds do until they are two to four weeks older. They are almost always eating a substantial amount on their own at this point. This includes the larger formulated diets like Scenic and Harrison's Bird Diets. And although we advocate feeding our birds as long as they will take formula - it is the rare poicephalus that will take more than two feedings a day at this point. By comparison, the African Greys, Cockatoos and most South American parrots I have raised are at a consistent 4+ handfeedings at this stage. When offered a large variety of foods many poicephalus will fully wean themselves (will turn their beaks up at us) by ten to twelve weeks of age not wanting anything to do with the formula. They will hang upside down from their toys or the roof of their cage by one foot and almost never fall. I will also separate them into separate cages, located right next to each other, at this age as I have found that with the right interaction it tends to make the babies a least as interested in playing with us and the toys and playgyms we use. It is also a great way to start teaching them both interaction with different people as well as some ability to occupy themselves, which is one of the most important things we teach our companion parrots. These birds are very accepting of towel training (Sally has several articles on the subject) and we also begin a process we call 'mauling' the babies. This developmental stage is a great time to build the birds trust in us through touching, prodding, holding them on their back, and generally 'mauling' the birds in a gentle way. We will praise them the whole time using calm, soothing tones as well as telling them exactly what we are doing. We will even (after thoroughly washing our hands) get the babies used to having our fingers in their mouths. Again, the importance of using words for your bird to associate with what we are doing with them can not be over stressed - it can prevent the bird from ever being confused about what is expected of it and puts you in a leadership role. For example: If we are working on getting the baby to accept us touching and extending their wing we would say something like: "This is your wing" or just "wing". Or if I am going to give them a bath I will approach them and say 'Its time for your bath' then give the step up command and bring them to the bathing area where I will repeat several times that they are having a bath and praise them extensively as well. Going slow and easy and explaining each thing we do with these birds and using consistent labels for those things does much to show our birds the nurturing guidance that can be found with us. Keep it simple and do not push anything so far with your bird that it is frightened and begins to have the wrong association with us or the particular thing we are doing with them. I think this particular period of development, from about six weeks through twelve weeks, should be spent heavily socializing and teaching these birds about trust and about the value of your leadership. I do not treat any of these birds differently - they all need extra attention during these stages. If we are following the above methods as well as the others outline in The Companion Parrot Handbook things tend to go quite smoothly with these birds. In many ways they can be some of the easier birds to get along with in captivity.

Poicephalus parrots can be bullies to those who do not understand parrot behavior and subsequently end up with the bird viewing them as subdominant or as a potential threat. I have seen many of the smaller African parrots bullying other parrots that are ten times their size. In certain situations these birds can be downright pugnacious. One thing I have noticed is that when someone is having problems with one of these birds exhibiting aggressive behaviors it is usually quite simple to determine why. With the rising popularity of these birds in the last five or so years, many breeders and pet stores have promoted them as birds that will be perfectly well behaved with anyone. In my opinion, there is no pet that is like that. In addition to a nurturing environment they all need leadership and direction as to how to live with us in our homes. None more than these undomesticated exotic birds. Poicephalus who have an understanding of where their place is in their 'human flock' rarely push seriously. It is when there is any confusion as to where they stand with us that problems seem to arise. I highly recommend against these birds being allowed on shoulders or to having free access to the exterior (in particular the top) of their cages. I know many people groan at this or respond 'I have had my bird on my shoulder (or on top of his cage) for years and never had a problem'. For every one of these people I hear from I hear from ten who are having a much harder time with control of their bird. Aggressive, dominant behaviors are much more likely with these birds and I find it hard to recommend people allow their birds to do anything that might lead to real trouble. Also, what true benefit do the birds gain from being allowed on top of the cage or on shoulders? I would suggest that having a nice play tree and also a portable playgym where we decide where and when the bird gets to go on it is much more likely to form the birds opinion of us as a flock leader. Shoulders and cage tops promote a situation of confusion in these birds when it is so easy to just slide down your back or back off the edge of the cage if they do not want to come to us when we need them to. I would guess they begin to think 'Maybe I'm in charge', or 'Maybe I get to decide what and when I'm going to do things'. Again, none of these birds has to think that they are in charge for us to have problems - they only need to be confused on their status in their perceived flock. When the above methods are followed consistently poicephalus are very willing to be followers and that is when I believe they are most content in captivity. Please Note: I have found that Red Bellied Parrots seem to develop behaviorally at quicker rate than just about any other parrot that I have worked with. I would guess, as it is most difficult to find information on these birds in the wild, that there is some need in these birds to develop very quickly and also to reproduce early in life. A number of people who have bred Red Bellies have reported that they are their most prolific pairs of poicephalus often needing to have methods applied to inhibit their breeding cycle in order to prevent the disorders associated with excessive egg-laying and the inflamed hormonal state which is then present. Many of the Red Bellies that I have worked with have exhibited behaviors at six months of age that most parrots do not show until one and a half or two years. In particular, I have seen them seriously testing their perceived flockmates for position. This seems to most often manifest as cage territoriality and many times as an attempt at the formation of a sexual pair bond with one family member to the aggressive exclusion of others. We do not seem to get the 'honeymoon period' with Red Bellies that we get with most other parrots. By 'honeymoon period' I am referring to the first year and a half or so most people have with their bird where they are fairly content with most things we ask of them. For many this is the time they learn much about their baby parrot and in particular they learn not to fear it. I am not saying that Red Bellies cannot be great pets - in fact I know of many who think that their Red Belly is the best pet they could ever have. I think people who are aware of this tendency will be better prepared to handle it. The early socialization, consistency of associative words and 'mauling' techniques mentioned are even more important with them. This is a generalization based on working with a limited (8 pairs babies) genetic stock but has definitely been true with them - your bird may be different.

The next developmental stage that I have observed to be more pronounced in Poicephalus Parrots is what many have called the 'phobic period'. I have seen poicephalus (mostly Senegals and Meyers) who have had phobic responses anywhere from six months of age all the way to ten+ years of age. Most poicephalus tend have the greatest potential for this from about nine months until about three years of age. They can have these responses either to objects in their environment or more commonly to one or more people who they were originally very trusting of. I have always believed that this behavior, like most of these bird's behaviors, is very understandable when we look at it from the perspective of being a survival tactic developed to keep them alive in the wild. Remember, parrots are prey species animals. This means that they are a potential lunch for any predator that can catch them. Phobic-type behaviors almost always coincide with the period of development when a juvenile parrot would begin to have to count on itself for survival. In the case of poicephalus, the African jungle and savannahs are big, dangerous places where being on edge is a proven survival tactic. If something causes a fear and flight response in one of these birds in the wild it is very understandable that they would remember that incident and anything associated with it as something to be avoided at all costs in the future. These birds are more likely to survive and to pass on these traits to the next generation. With this in mind it is easy to see that these 'phobic' behaviors are not the actions of a 'psychotic bird', but those of a parrot trying to get along in a completely different environment than that it was adapted to survive in. My experience with birds that have become phobic towards someone or something has been mostly with Senegal and Meyers Parrots. I have heard of it happening in other species as well but never as pronounced or as often as with these two species. The people I have seen avoid any phobic type reactions with their birds have always done extensive socialization consistently from the time they purchased their baby parrot through at least its first two or three years. This socialization included new people, places and objects being regularly introduced in a safe, trust building way. Generally speaking, the more severe the phobic bird the less socialized it was. One example is a close friends Senegal Parrot. She was able to take the bird everywhere with her the first couple of years she had it. She was always careful of how the bird was handled as well as how new things were introduced. Now even after almost seven years of living mostly at home this bird still seeks out the company of new people even seeming to prefer it over those she has become accustomed to. She is also very accepting of any new toys that she sees someone else interacting with first.

In my experience the only consistently successful method of regaining the trust of a bird that has exhibited phobic behaviors is to do nothing that will make the bird nervous if at all possible. This includes acting submissively when approaching the cage. No direct eye contact should be made for longer than a glance and approaching from a position lower than the bird are two ways to do this. The trick is to try to push for small gains in trust with the bird without pushing far enough to spook them. Pay close attention to the signs your bird gives you. Poicephalus are quite easy to detect nervousness or fear in. Their eye can dilate or expand rapidly, many will crouch and vibrate their wings readying to flee the perceived danger and most will draw their feathers in tight to the body appearing to almost shrink in size. If you push this far your bird's last remembrance of you will be one of fright. We would like it instead to remember nothing fearful and preferably something positive about the last interaction. Also, I highly recommend anyone who owns or is thinking of owning a poicephalus parrot to read the articles that have been published in the PBR on phobic behaviors.

Many people promote these parrots as being very quiet. I have found that this depends heavily on what the owner has encouraged in their bird. Although I would agree that poicephalus are one of the more naturally quiet types of parrots, quiet is a subjective thing when applied to the parrot family. All parrots make noise but I have found that what most people would consider excessive noise is rarely seen in poicephalus who have been taught other alternatives to get the attention they crave. Busting loose several times a day for five or ten minutes should be very acceptable. If it is not - a parrot of any species is not the pet to choose.

I would describe excessive noise (this is very subjective as different people tolerate different amounts of noise) as screaming that goes on for two or three times this long a number of times per day. I occasionally talk to people who have poicephalus that scream loudly for extended periods of time, sometimes for several hours. In poicephalus that exhibit this excessive screaming behavior it is usually quite easy to determine why. Most times someone in the household is encouraging it - whether knowingly or not. If we instead encourage speech or any other noises we are OK with these birds are usually more than content to use those noises or words to get our attention and the interaction they seek. As to how to work with a noisy poicephalus - there are numerous articles on controlling noise available through the PBR - the methods outlined there are very effective on these birds.

One of the most common questions I am asked about these birds is: 'Can they talk?' Although the poicephalus are not as proficient at speech as some of the better-recognized talkers (greys, amazons, macaws, etc.) they do have the ability. I have always found the African parrots to be accomplished sound effects machines. A friend's Meyers Parrot is able to mimic the entire fax modem noise that he has heard when my friend's computer is being connected to the Internet. Smoke alarms, microwave oven timers and telephones are some of the other regular noises these birds can mimic to perfection. I regularly see and hear about poicephalus with ten to twenty word vocabularies - although the pronunciation of some of those words might be a little lacking. Of the poicephalus I know well, the Red Bellied Parrots are definitely the best mimics with Jardines and Meyers in a tie for second and Senegals third. I have always found speech, and most other things we try to teach our birds, to be highly dependent on the owner. If you make anything fun and interesting enough these birds are bound to attempt it.

Although I will be covering the specifics of caring for poicephalus in upcoming articles I would like to touch on those that apply to all of these birds.

Most of their dietary needs are similar to those of other parrots and can be found in articles published here in the PBR. I try to get foods containing the essential trace mineral selenium into the African parrots. Selenium is essential to the proper functioning of the immune system and the thyroid gland. The African parrots seem to need selenium more than the other parrots. A number of avicultural veterinarians (including Dr. Jenkins) believe selenium is very important for them. It seems to be found in much of the soil in Africa. Plants and grains that grow in this selenium rich soil contain much of it as well. Some excellent sources of selenium are Brazil nuts, walnuts and cooked red meat. Although no one has stated a specific amount needed - I try to get foods containing selenium into African parrots at least two to three times each week. I also concentrate more heavily on feeding high vitamin A vegetables (lists of these are available through the PBR) than fruits. African parrots seem to be able to metabolize the nutrients in veggies easier than those in fruits.

In the case of Senegals, Meyers and Red Bellies the minimum cage size I recommend is 24X24X25" and for Jardines at least 28X24X28". These active, playful birds should have more room than this if possible.

I also highly recommend the usage of full spectrum lighting with these birds. African parrots seem to need the UV A & B light it produces more than most parrots. We use and recommend Vita-Lite fluorescent bulbs. The bulbs should be within two feet of the bird. Keep safety issues in mind as far as cords and your birds ability to reach them or the light and fixture. We recommend eight hours per day and these lights should only be used on a timer. I recommend they come on around eight to nine AM and go off at four to five PM as this will not add to the overall photo period (the amount of all light they receive daily), which could possibly trigger reproductive behaviors. This is a much better way to help the bird to metabolize the calcium (and some other nutrients) in their diet than the usage of artificial supplements, which are very hard to regulate properly.

To conclude what has become a very long introduction to my understanding of these wonderful birds I would like to state exactly why I recommend them so highly:

Although I do not sell or recommend poicephalus parrots for children, or any bird for that matter, I do think that they can be a wonderful family pet with children involved and much adult supervision. The parents must have at least as much interest in the bird as the children or these birds (and most other parrot species) will usually intimidate children fairly quickly. With a parent involved in teaching both the bird and the child the rules of nurturing guidance these birds can be wonderful family pets. In my opinion, Senegals have the best chance of doing well in this situation and Red Bellies and Meyers can be trickier. Jardines Parrots with their larger size (especially their beak) can be very intimidating to children - and some adults.

As mentioned earlier both noise and aggression (the two biggest reasons I hear for people wanting to get rid of their bird) can be easily avoided in these birds when they are raised properly.

These birds exhibit all the positive behaviors that draw people to their larger and sometimes more difficult to keep content cousins. The adults that I have sold these birds to, including those where it was their first pet bird, consistently do very well with them in many different situations. I have many of these birds placed in homes for over ten years where the people are extremely happy with them. In a society where parrots are many times a thrown away pet after just a few years I feel very happy about how well these birds have worked out.

These birds are very acrobatic and playful with the Jardines Parrot as possibly one of most 'goofy' birds that I have been around with the possible exceptions of Caiques and Lories. Most poicephalus love their toys and enjoy showing off with them to their owners delight. These are also some of the easiest birds to teach to independently play and occupy themselves.

The cost of owning these birds, whether it be the cost of the bird itself, the cage, diet or veterinary costs is often significantly less than that of owning one of the larger members of this family. Keeping all these things within our budget is also crucial to the well being of our birds.

In conclusion, this extensive article is an attempt at an introduction of the poicephalus parrots as companion birds. It will be followed by (much shorter) articles on Senegals, Meyers and Red Bellies, and finally Jardines. My intent is to have these articles provide detailed useful information for the people who have these birds or are trying to decide which bird is right for them. Most of the articles (in other publications) I have seen have been over simplified and do not really contain much of useful substance. I hope that my articles can achieve more than this. I would greatly appreciate any input from anyone who has owned one of these birds, the longer the better, as you will be part of what has been my best source of understanding these birds. I can be contacted by email at: Or Parrot Island (952) 928-9985.


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