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What is a Senegal Parrot?

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  • Written By: Anna Harrison
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 25 November 2016
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A Senegal Parrot is a small African bird with the species name Poicephalus senegalus. It lives in flocks in open forests and wooded areas along the western coast where it feeds on local crops and is looked upon as an unwelcome pest by farmers. It is one of the most popular species of birds kept as pets throughout the world, although these birds are hand raised in captivity. It is illegal to export or import a wild Senegal Parrot for any reason.

This type of Poicephalus parrot is only about 9 inches (28 cm) long, and weighs just 4 to 6 ounces (120-170 g.). It has a large, gray colored head and beak and striking bright yellow eyes. Its body is green and yellow with a vest shape on its chest which varies in color, depending on the subspecies it belongs to. Male and female birds can be very difficult to tell apart, though the males tend to be larger and more aggressive. The Senegal Parrot can live for 30 years or more in the wild, and pet Senegals have been known to live for more than 50 years.

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In its native habitat, the Senegal Parrot builds its nest in palm tree holes, and lays from 3 or 4 small, white eggs in spring. The female sits on the eggs for the month that it takes for them to incubate. The male provides food for the female and the babies and protects the nest. When the babies are three or four weeks old, their mother begins to provide food for them as well. The babies leave the nest to fend for themselves when they are approximately three months old.

The Senegal Parrot migrates in search of food, which includes seeds, nuts, fruit and grains. When kept as pets, these birds can be fed a commercial seed or pellet mixture made for parrots as well as small portions of fruit, vegetables, and even bits of meat. It is important to feed the Senegal Parrot a proper diet to ensure colorful feathers as well as good health.

Known for their outgoing personalities, the Senegal Parrot can be very entertaining; it has a gift for mimicry, often copying any sound it hears. Similar to most parrots, they can be noisy, with calls that range from loud, piercing whistles to squawks. They are known to be highly trainable and very playful, though they have a propensity to become one-person birds. In order to avoid this possessiveness, they should be handled and socialized regularly. Wild Senegal Parrots, however, can be aggressive and should never be kept as pets.

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