Owning a poicephalus parrot is like having a little one-bird circus in your living room. This bird will entertain you with its antics and acrobatics. It loves attention, and will put on a show for the small price of a bird treat: climbing ropes, repeating words, wrestling with toys like feathered gymnasts.
The poicephalus is ideal for those who admire the intelligence and playfulness of parrots but are scared of the bigger birds. It can learn words very quickly, and it has a sweet, soothing voice. It can also mimic the sounds in its environment: the phone ringing, the shrill of the alarm clock, and even the little beeps of the microwave. Sometimes it will even copy the sound of other birds, driving the sparrows outside the window nuts!
Types of Poicephalus Parrots
The poicephalus parrots are of small to medium size, with a stocky build and strong breaks. However, they have particularly large wings for their frame, prompting the Germans to call them “long winged parrots”.
Like many birds that hail from the African rainforests, the poicephalus have very vibrant plumage. In fact, the word “poicephalus” was coined because of their head colors, which are unique from bird to bird. There are a total of nine species of poicephalus, three of which are dangerously close to extinction: Ruppells, Yellow Faced and Niam-Niam.
Brown headed parrot
Called Poicephalus cryptoxanthus, it has green body feathers and brown head. It resembles the Senegal parrot except for the distinct lack of yellow breast feathers. Though it may not be as colorful as the other birds, it can make a very good pet because of its gentle and quiet temperament.
The brown headed parrot is endemic to the southeast African coasts, which are lined with dry woodlands (here, its brown plumage was an effective form of camouflage). It is a flock bird, and congregated in groups of up to 40.
Red Bellied Parrot
It is an intelligent and talkative bird, and with patient training, can learn dozens of words! It has brown and grey coloring, with a few green markings. The males have much brighter plumage, thanks to its carrot-colored breast feathers. It is endemic to Tanzania, Somalia and Ethiopia.
This is one of the larger varieties, and is known for its very eye-catching colors. It has black wings and tails, with emerald green markings at the tips of its feathers. Its chest feathers are apple green, while its forehead and legs are orange.
It is endemic to the forests of Liberia, Ghana and the Ivory Coast. It is known for its affection and even temperament, and is considered one of the best “talker” of the Poicephalus family. However, this species is known for being prone to beak overgrowth, so have it checked by the veterinarian regularly.
The Cape Parrot
This is the largest Poicephalus parrot. It looks like a smiling clown, because of its oversized beak. It has silver and orange head feathers, and some may have yellow markings on its back and wings. It is difficult to breed in captivity, and experts fear that its numbers are rapidly dwindling in the wild. It can learn words very quickly, but can be too loud to be appropriate pets for apartment dwellers.