This is a section specifically about the Senegal Parrot (Poicephalus Senegalus). We hope to amass the most comprehensive biography about Senegal Parrots on the internet. I really urge you to take the time to read these articles in their entirety as they are written by real people, with real parrots, and real experience with Senegal Parrots specifically. This is not meant to be a mundane scientific lecture but rather a useful resource to anyone owning or wishing to own a Senegal Parrot.
First an anecdotal description of the notorious Senegal Parrot. Senegal Parrots come from parts of western Africa. They are part of the Poicephalus genus and there are 3 subspecies of the species Poicephalus Senegalus:
Senegal Parrots have mostly green feathers with a gray head. They are famous for the bright yellow eyes which look like they are glowing.
Frequently Asked Questions About Senegal Parrots:
What is a Senegal Parrot?
A Senegal Parrot is an African Parrot of the species Poicephalus Senegalus. They inhabit the parts of western Africa spanning from Chad to Cameroon. They are closely related to other Poicephalus species such as the Red Bellied, Meyers, and Cape parrots.
How are Senegal Parrots or What is their temperament?
Senegal Parrots are high energy playful parrots yet also can be quite mellow at times. They really have a large variation between mellow to rambunctious. If well tamed/socialized they can be quite accepting of change and less prone to problems that other parrots are famous for like screaming, feather plucking, being phobic, and biting. They are extraordinarily intelligent and pack a lot of brain for their size. Senegal Parrots are very capable at doing complex tricks and can be good talkers.
However, don't let their small size fool you. They can be a lot of parrot to handle at times. They can get very jealous, territorial, and aggressive if not properly trained and socialized. They have been known to bully birds twice their size. Except with much experience and hard work, it is not recommended to have more than one Senegal Parrot or other pets in addition to a Senegal Parrot.
How long do Senegal Parrots live?
The truth is, I have no clue. I really have never heard of someone with a Senegal Parrot dying from old age. Senegal Parrots are fairly new to aviculture because the wild caught imported ones were too aggressive and it wasn't till the 1992 ban that hand raised ones became more popular. Therefore few captive Senegal Parrots have truly outlived their span. I have heard estimates for life expectancy of Senegal Parrots ranging from 25-50 years with about 30 being the most typical expectation.
Do Senegal Parrots bite?
Does a bear shit in the woods? All parrots can bite at some point or another and there are many reasons they might bite. That being said, I don't think a Senegal Parrot is by any means impossible to handle. I've only been bit by my Senegal on a few occasions and over 90% of those bites were foreseen and I knew why she bit. Those were mostly situations where I was grooming her or something scared her so she bit me. Otherwise, a well socialized parrot can be trained to do alternate rewarding behaviors than biting. Bites should be ignored and other more desirable behaviors should be taught in place of biting. Check out this post on counter conditioning.
How do I tame my Senegal Parrot?
Taming a parrot is a very lengthy process that is really a lifetime work in progress. Unlike cats and dogs, parrots are not domesticated and few are more than 1-2 generations removed from the wild. The only reason we can get away with handling these otherwise wild birds is because of 3 major components:
A) Our intelligence B) Their intelligence C) Hand raised parrot imprinting
Hand raised parrots are much easier to work with because they imprint on a human during hand feeding and learn to trust humans as their flock mates. The parrot's intelligence allows it to learn to adapt to the human environment and make the most of it. Our intelligence allows us to exchange information and ideas with other parrot owners to learn tips and tricks on how to let manipulate our environment and ourselves to allow the parrot's intelligence to learn acceptable (to us) behavior.
The exact details of taming a parrot including handling it, teaching step up, clicker training, targeting, and simple tricks are the subject of another article: How To Teach Step Up.
What do Senegal Parrots eat and what is their favorite food?
Senegal Parrots can eat a wide assortment of food predominantly including fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, grains, pellets, and seeds. A pellet diet is considered better than a seed diet and a fresh foods diet is considered better than a pellet diet. In reality it's best to have a harmony where a parrot eat a bit of everything but mostly focusing on the fresh foods.
Every parrot may have a different favorite food and even this can vary with time. My Senegal Parrot particularly likes apples, oatmeal, egg, peanuts, almonds, and sunflower seeds.
How to get a Senegal Parrot not to bite?
The real question is how to get a Senegal Parrot to bite? If you don't do the things that cause it to bite it will never bite. Now this leads to a greater question as to why parrots bite to begin with. There are many reasons but here are some of the basic causes of biting:
-Fear -Aggression -Inability to escape (usually as the result of being clipped) -Territoriality -Hormonal, nesting, or mating -Learned aggression (basically for the fun of it or some other benefit) -Displace aggression (bite the nearest thing for fear of a remote agitator)
There is much to discuss about biting which needs an entire topic of its own. For a start here is a video about using positive reinforcement based training to get around most types of parrot aggression.
Are Senegal Parrots better single or in pairs?
Most people will say that if you plan to spend a lot of time with your bird, get one, but if it will be alone and lonely, get two. I say if it will be alone and lonely, you shouldn't get one, two, or any. Senegal Parrots are social birds and require daily attention and interaction. Buying them in a pair to keep as a collectors item or for show is not a good reason to get them. If you are interested in getting a parrot, it should be for its qualities as a companion and if this is the case, it will be a much better companion if you are in return its sole companion. Or rather if in turn humans in general are the only kind of companion the parrot has. I have read many cases of parrot owners disappointment that their parrot does not want to be with them when they have them in pairs. This is because in a pair they have everything they need between the two of them and really don't need your attention. In fact they can bite and get defensive of each other from you. Having a pair or multiple parrots can also lead to other problems such as nesting, babies, and parrot to parrot aggression and fighting. Just because they are a pair of the same species (same sex or opposite) does not mean they will get along. Flock dynamics are very complicated and it is not advisable for a beginner to buy two Senegal Parrots at once.
How do you know if a Senegal Parrot likes to or wants to be pet?
Usually a Senegal Parrot will become really fluffy with feathers lose and away from the body. It may bow its head down invitingly for you to scratch it. Sometimes you could observe them petting themselves with their foot which is a clear sign that they would like to be scritched. Here is a video that shows my Senegal stroking herself with her foot inviting me to pet her:
How do you pet a Senegal Parrot?
Basically Senegals like to be pets around the head and neck only. They like you to pet against the feathers so that would be from neck to head. And they like you to gently scratch around the head, cheeks, ears, and neck regions. They even like a good beak scratch every now and then. If they have pin feathers they could bite if you press the wrong spot. However, during later stages of pin feather development, they'll appreciate you helping them break the pin feather sheaths open.
Here is how Kili likes to get pet:
How many hours of sleep does a Senegal Parrot need and how do they sleep?
Senegal Parrots generally require a good 12-14 hours of uninterrupted sleep which they may also supplement during the daytime with naps. However, naps do not replace 12 hours of sleep at night. Do not be tempted to keep your parrot up to spend time with you because if it does not get enough sleep, the following day it will be groggy which could lead to fear or aggression.
Senegal Parrots often sleep standing on one foot with their head turned around 180 degrees back and tucked into their feathers. They do this to keep the bill and feet under feather to keep them warm. Birds lose the most heat through their feet and beak so by hiding those at night they can relax by creating the least heat possible. Here is a video of a budgie falling asleep with a Senegal Parrot and you can see how she tucks her beak in before falling asleep:
Portions of this article were originally published in "Pet and Aviary Birds Magazine" February/March 2004. This is a work in progress, stay tuned for photos and movies.
A free flighted Senegal parrot acted as winged ambassador and introduced me to the Poicephalus family. Prior to meeting him, the only thing I understood about these green little birds with ‘different heads’ was that they made ‘good apartment pets’. I lived in a house, so that wasn’t much of an endorsement. This fellow caught my attention.
He was part of a free flighted parrot show. Our local bird club hosted a talk about free flight and clicker training. There were conures, a macaw, a cockatoo and of course, the Senegal. The conures went for flyabouts all around the room fast as fighter pilots, visiting with folks and landing on people’s heads. In contrast, the Senegal hung on his owner's shirt fixated on a button. Once in a while, his owner would toss the little guy off to the side and the little bird would boomerang right back, quick and sharp. The senegal upstaged the demonstration of how to use a clicker as a bridge for behavior training. The purpose of the clicker is to signal to the bird that they have correctly performed a specific behavior and a reward is forthcoming. This little guy turned the tables on the demonstration and made the clicking noise himself. I was charmed by this demonstration of who was directing whom. Some behaviorists term this “begging” behavior but I later learned that it was a demonstration of how well these little birds mimic and how quickly they figure out just exactly what they need to do to get their favorite person’s undivided attention.
That day, I made a mental note that my next bird would be a Senegal and that I would not trim the wings. Of course, keeping a bird flighted makes for a chaotic home environment and I knew that if I wanted any semblance of household harmony, I was going to have to work on training the bird. Training can be defined many ways, but I like to think about it as behavior management via directed play and learning.
Origins and Characteristics
Senegals are indigenous to Western Africa in areas such as Senegal (who would guess?), Nigeria and south-western Chad. According to Juniper and Parr’s “Parrots, a guide to Parrots of the World” their optimum habitat appears to be open savanna woodlands. They are usually seen in pairs or parties up to 20. They tend to migrate with availability of the food supply.
Poicephalus means “different head” in Greek and these birds are characterized by a grey head and a green body. The purpose of this is most likely to help camouflage the birds. Because the color is broken and does not offer a visual line to the eyes, they are very difficult to see when they are in a tree or brush. Senegal’s color is also defined by a “vest” that starts under the wing and on the shoulder (giving them little yellow shoulder pads) and ends in a “V” below their breast. The color of the “V” can vary depending on which race the Senegal may belong to. It has been posited that are three different races of Senegals and the vest can be yellow, orange or even red depending on which area of Western Africa their ancestors originated from.
I think these colors are best viewed when the bird is in flight. Senegals have short tails and stocky little bodies but they soar beautifully. Their flight might be characterized with more rapid wing flaps than some of the other birds with longer tails but they are playful, expert and acrobatic flyers.
Baby Senegals can often be raised in groups of three. They have black eyes and they are very curious and love to chew on everything. One of my bird’s favorite chew toys (believe it or not) was the elastic on my underwear. She could occupy herself with this for many hours. I think it is important to keep such things as towels and cloth objects close by for a baby to worry on as they begin their journey into maturity.
When the baby first comes home, they will be very quiet and frighten easily. For the first week, my baby Senegal seemed to be subject to night frights and very suspicious of new objects. Don’t push the bird. They will come out of this in their own time. This is a natural phase for a bird that is indigenous to a highly predatory environment. In about a week they get over it and when they do, look out!
What about diet? A varied diet is good and they don’t eat much differently than any other parrot. They seem to really like dried hot peppers. I feed sprouts, pellets and vegetables. Interactive fruits and vegetables such as brussel sprouts, broccoli stalks and apples are relished and appreciated because these little birds will chew and worry these foods until they are confetti.
What about cage requirements? Like any parrot, they should not be kept in a cage 100% of the time. They require attention and interaction but they don’t need particularly large cages. A Senegal can be housed in the same size cage as a cockatiel and be quite content, provided the bird has plenty of toys and comes out daily for interaction and play.
Personality and Training
Does a flighted Senegal still make a good apartment bird? The Duke of Bedford, an early pioneer in modern aviculture, wrote this description of the Senegal in “Parrots and Parrot-like Birds” (I think the earliest edition was around 1933) “A popular and well-known bird and probably one of the best of the small parrots for anyone who requires a cage pet.” One reason for this is that they have a reputation for being a quiet parrot and relative to others, they are. I have a charming young hen (Babylon) that sits on my shoulders and murmers sweet nothings into my ear. Her conversational voice is a mechanical hum that reminds me of the teacher’s voice in the old Charlie Brown cartoons. When she is in the mood, her murmurings are comforting and soothing enough to melt me. She also says, “Okay” quite agreeably but her favorite thing to do is to yell my Timneh’s name quite sternly. I haven’t heard of any Senegal that will go off on a soliloquy like an African grey, but they do talk and often they speak in context.
Beware, they are not always quiet. They have a very, loud and piercing screeat, screat that they use in moments of excitement. When I come home from a long day at the office and release my flighted hen from her cage, she likes to swoop around the room, buzz my other parrots and my head. While she does this, she screeats like the Vampire bat from an old horror movie. It is our “fly around and scream” time and this is one of the reasons I like to say that my bird “wears her heart on her wing.” Still, I have to admit that these birds are much quieter than conures….both in call frequency and in call volume.
A Senegal is a lot of personality in a little package. I want to be careful not to generalize because each bird is very individual but my “little green gremlin” had a few surprising characteristics that I think can help illustrate species tendencies.
First, she is a very physical bird. She loves to roll around on her back and sides. I often think of her as being part mouse because she rapidly runs around in play and whimpers. This is a full bodied bird. She has little objection to being grabbed around her back and handled like a small football. She will also try and escape from her cage by attempting to barrel roll her body between the bars and food dish openings. For this reason, correct bar spacing is critical with these guys.
One of the best toys for a Senegal is the popular boing. This is a spiral perch that is suspended inside the cage. They love to roll around, upside down and in between. I have a second boing that is attached using a wing nut and washer, and pointed up on top of my bird’s cage. She sits on top of it and springs up and down, up and down like Winnie the Pooh’s Tigger, who’s “top was made of rubber and bottom was made of springs”. The day she launched herself with a sproing across the room was the day I knew she was ready for flight.
A second characteristic is that she is intelligent and quick. I like to trick train my parrots. It took me many weeks to teach my Timneh African Grey the behavior “bring it to me” but the little Senegal learned this in about two days. Another behavior that I wanted to have with consistency was the flighted recall. I remember jokingly telling friends that apparently recall comes standard with these models. She was so easy to teach I’m not sure which one of us should take credit – me or the bird. I cued, “come here” and she flew to me, straight and eager. I praised and gave her a nut. That was about it. She had a reliable and consistent recall from that moment on. Of course, we daily practice and reward this behavior.
A friend once asked me if the Senegal had a short attention span. The answer is, “absolutely not”. These little birds are obsessive and difficult to derail from their perceived mission. On the one hand, that is great because they love their toys and will play with them and occupy themselves for hours. On the other hand, it is a problem if their perceived obsession is something like chasing the cockatiel. If this is the case, the caretaker has to work on some creative behavior solutions because I have found distractions and time-out’s do not often work.
I have also been asked if Senegals and cockatiels get along and I would say, “no”. Cockatiels are very gentle birds and they simply cannot defend themselves against this green bird even though their sizes are very similar. The Senegal has persistence and a big beak on its side.
Like most African birds, Senegals are initially shy. These birds need to be socialized by introducing them to new people and environments. They do not tend to be extroverted but they will learn to accept new people and new situations with little anxiety if the caretaker introduces them with empathy, enthusiasm and care. I always give a verbal introduction first such as “Babylon, this is Cherie. Would you like to see her and she will give you a nut?” The emphasis should be on making the experience fun for the bird and there is nothing wrong with using a favorite treat for a little added reinforcement.
One other really fun characteristic of the Senegal is the intense loyalty to their designated favorite person. When I come home from work, my little Senegal runs circles in her cage like a terrier dog waiting to greet me. When she is out, she often expects my undivided attention. I cannot even read a book and she will fly and scream until I shut it and make the time to play with her. She will go to great creative lengths to elicit attention and praise from me. One afternoon, she flew over, picked up a small bell and brought it to me. I was quick enough to praise and treat and now I have a flighted retrieve on cue, but again, I’m not sure who taught whom.
This intense loyalty can be a double-edged sword. These birds can bite. They can become jealous of other birds and display territorial behaviors. For this reason, I think it is important to teach the birds to communicate using other acceptable means and to encourage and reward playful behaviors. Trick training is especially good because it is a way to give these birds undivided attention and to reward them for performing cute and acceptable behaviors, rather than only giving them attention when they misbehave. Believe me, they can make an art out of misbehaving and will find ways to get into trouble that cannot be ignored.
Finally, I would like to say that even though I have an indoor flighted Senegal, I only take her outdoors when she is in a carrier, cage or aviary. Outdoor flight is fraught with risk and should not be undertaken without a great deal of training and study.
Babylon gets a boyfriend
Since writing this article, I acquired two male adult Senegal rehomes. Both boys are at least 10 years old today. They are now treasured members of my flock. Observing their interactions has also given me a bit more insight into what are innate sexual behaviors and how these animals relate to each other as a flock.
Babylon's boyfriend is a happy-go-lucky quick footed little guy named Jack. When I acquired both males, I quarantined them for a few months in a separate room from the rest of my flock. The two boys preened and fed each other and I mistakenly assumed they were "bonded". Once out of quarantine and introduced to my hen, that stopped.
Babylon is very well socialized and frequently is taken on outings to visit other birds so she has had a lot of parrot time visiting many different species but once she saw the boys she instantly knew two things. First, she knew that they were Senegals and second, she knew that they were BOYS.
She immediately flew to both boys, landed in plain sight, waved at them and said, (I kid you not) "Hi Baby!" "Hi Baby!" Of course, neither one of the boys had any idea what she wanted so they just looked at her. Babylon's response to that was to fly in the air and push them both off their perches. She is a rough flirt.
To make a long story short, today all three birds are kept in separate cages. They get out twice a day to interact. Babylon and Jack preen and feed each other until she gets tired of him. She makes him nervous when she flies away so he chews on his toenails and tries to devise ways to match her flying style. He was clipped for many years and has improved a great deal as a flyer but he will never be able to keep up with her.
Babylon still prefers me to the boys. At the age of seven now, she likes to spend time snuffling around in dark areas searching for a nesting area but I do not want the two birds to breed and they haven't. I think it is because they are always in a central area of our house and I do not give them privacy. I do not give them dark places to nest in and both birds are still superb companions to people. When I separate my flock into a bird room, Babylon flies out the door at any opportunity and follows me around, soliciting attention with her many trick behaviors.
Many years later, like 1000's of other people, I am still enamored with my Senegals.
Once I read a comment that somebody thought her Senegal friend was an "angel". My first thoughts were that she must have some other species of parrot, because the Senegals I have known are not angels - they are Gremlins. They are quick thinking, manipulative little creatures and they are only out for their own self interest. Given their freedom and the ability to act on their own self impulses, they are immensely charming and always the suitor, but they can also be emotional, unpredictable and destructive. In short, once you live with one, it's hard to imagine life without one....but you have to be vigilant and you have to be smart!
What are the differences between the sexes?
It can be tough to see a difference between a male and a female Senegal unless you are familiar with the species. The females are usually a little smaller and the males tend to have a little larger heads. Mature hens tend to puff their crops out almost as if they are Mae West. Males also tend to hold themselves a little differently. Females tend to sit lower so their silhouette almost looks like the top of a question mark that has toppled over. Males tend to hold their heads higher. It has been said that you can sex them by looking at the depth of the V on their chest. I'm not sure if this works. The best method for sexing is probably DNA sexing.
2) Are there differences in temperament?
Every bird is individual. "Poisonalities" can be modified by diet, environment and learning. Having said that, I do think there is probably some difference in temperament. Both sexes are extremely smart, good talkers, affectionate and incredible companions. The boys tend to be a bit more consistent and the hens can be a little "moody".
3) Do they fly different and/or are their behavioral differences?
I see the biggest difference in how they fly attributable to when their wings were clipped and how long they were clipped - rather than sex. Birds that learn to fly at a young age tend to be much more confident and athletic. Senegals do seem to recover from clips very well, however. Both of my males were clipped for many, many years and have recovered to fly quite well as adults but they still cannot keep up with my hen who was clipped only once as a baby at the time of sale.
4) Do boys bite more than girls?
I do think the boys bite harder than the girls. Senegals have a heightened flight or fight response. They seem to almost be hardwired to "trigger" an immediate fear response. If they can't fly, they often bite. In the wild, the boys guard the nest from predators so it makes sense that they are going to "act first and ask questions later" if something makes them nervous. If you think about it, if a predator is raiding your nesting spot, you don't get a lot of time to react before you and your family are somebody's dinner. A scream and a quick attack might help protect your progeny for future generations.
When working to modify behaviors with Senegals, it is always a good idea to see if you can find behaviorial "triggers". When a bird reacts inappropriately, look to see what happened immediately before the behavior. You might have to be creative and diligent in your observations but I do believe that this species definitely has a quick, reflexive reaction that is triggered by ????? As a caretaker, it is your task to figure out what that trigger is and try to modify reflexive behaviors.
I also see a tendency among Senegals to form "alliances". They decide early who is their friend and who is not. They are incredibly loyal to their friends and will look to that "friend" as an aid for security.
How do Senegal Parrots fly indoors?
In my experience, Senegals have a unique and fun flying style. My hen Babylon has been going to fly days for many years. At the fly days, we purposely encourage the birds to fly and develop skills in an indoor environment. From day one, Babylon would take off and fly in circles, almost as if she was "mapping the territory" and after many laps, she almost always finds me and flies to me. I am still amazed at her determination to be with me.
Whether she learned this from the fly days or whether it is innate, she also likes to fly with other birds. We have a pionus that often flies with us and Babylon has cried out "Phoebe!" (the pionus's name) and then she takes off and flies in circles with the bigger bird. Below is a short film that demonstrates this type of flying. In this film, Babylon is flying with an African grey. This is not a rare event but it is tough to catch a small bird flying big circles on film....so, I don't have too many movies.
Should I keep my Senegal in an aviary?
All parrots benefit from fresh air and sunshine. For those who worry about viruses, sunshine is the best disinfectant. A bird that has lived their entire life indoors, may be initially nervous when introduced to the outside but many Senegals get over this rather quickly and learn to relish time outside.
There are always hazards to an outside environment. Parrots are non-native species in many places so it is important to be vigilant for predators. It is helpful if your Senegal is "predator savvy". By that, I mean that they recognize a potential predator and understand it is important to retreat and not approach a potential predator...(like a raccoon or cat). Senegals are particularly small parrots and that means that they are more susceptible to predation.
There is a lot to say about aviaries. I have two aviaries and my backyard aviary has three fruit trees in it. The birds like to crawl around on the branches and chew the bark. I also make sure to place water bowls in the aviaries so the birds can enjoy a good bath.
I am careful NOT to leave food in the aviary to attract rats and other animals. Also, the spacing of the wire mesh is particularly important. In places with particularly wiley predators, people will often double mesh their aviaries so an animal cannot reach in and grab a pet. I also think it is makes a lot of sense to make sure that the aviary is quite large so the birds can fly around in it. It is okay to put a bird out in a cage on a deck but you MUST BE PARTICULARLY VIGILANT if you do this. Do not leave them in direct sunlight and be very careful that dogs, cats, small children and raccoons cannot and do not approach the cage. I know several people that have lost beloved companions to raccons in broad daylight.
Below is a quick movie of Jack and Babylon, playing in my front yard octagonal aviary. Jack is the one with a little orange below his beak like a beard. He came to our house with a full grey head but when Babylon first met him, she plucked the feathers out of his head. They came back in orange. I always wondered if she was trying to carve a "B" in the top of his head. It's been a few years so now his feathers have grown back in grey except for the few right around his beak.
Last edited by Mona on Thu Nov 19, 2009 6:01 pm, edited 11 times in total.
Mona in Seattle Phinneous Fowl (aka Phinney) TAG Babylon Sengal Doug (spousal unit) Jack and Bailey (Gremlins) Kiri (CAG) http://www.flyingparrotsinside.com youtube: Avian Flyers
Here are some tips on what to look for in a new baby Senegal Parrot and other baby parrots. First of all, do your research. Do you want to purchase your new baby from a breeder or a pet shop? In either case, look for reviews online. Reviews from previous customers can be very informative.
If you go with a breeder, make an appointment to visit the aviary. The nursery should be clean and free from excess bird droppings, old food and clutter. The babies should all be playful and alert unless it's nap time. Papers in the bottom of cages should be reasonably clean and the breeder should be well informed and able to give you any information regarding the species you are interested in.
If you go with a pet store, please make sure that they buy their baby birds from reputable, local breeders and not bird mills! This means never buy a bird from PetSmart, PetCo, Petland or any other large chain pet store. Again, look for cleanliness in the store. Cages should not have layers of old bird poo on them and the bird department should smell nice and look clean. All cages or any areas where birds are housed should have clean water and fresh food and plenty of toys. The employees should be knowledgeable and able to answer any questions you may have. They should know the hatch dates of the babies and if they are hand feeding themselves, they should be able to inform you of the different personalities and favorite treats of each bird. Both breeders and pet shops should keep a daily weight record for each bird to make sure they are maintaining their weight.
When making your decision on where to buy a baby bird, keep in mind that a pet store will generally charge around twice the price of a breeder. A Timneh African Grey at a local breeder where I am located can be purchased for $675. The same bird at the pet shop where I work is $1300.
Once you've decided where to buy your baby, you need to know what to look for in a healthy baby bird. A well raised baby should be alert and playful. It should show an interest in what is going on around it and be at a healthy weight. For Senegals, the average weight is between 120 and 150 grams. The feathers should be bright and shiny, the baby should have a pleasant, almost sweet odor and the eyes and nares should be clear and free from any general yuckiness. In many cases, chicks have dark eyes that lighten with age. This is the case with the Senegal and is a good indication of age. The baby Senegal starts with very dark eyes which begin to lighten around 6 months. The babies should also be well socialized. A well socialized baby will at the least already know the step up command and should be willing to step up for just about anybody, however, if the baby will not step up for you this does not mean it will not make a good pet. Some birds are naturally more shy and less social than others and take longer to warm up to people.
Some important questions to ask. You need to find out if your bird is being abundance weaned. Many breeders and shops force wean their birds. This means that they put them on a strict schedule of hand feeding and cut the baby off from formula based on a time schedule whether the baby is ready to stop eating formula or not. Clearly, this is not healthy for the bird. A good indication of force weaning is the age of the bird. A Senegal parrot weans around 12 weeks old. I would be suspect of any chick younger than this claimed as weaned. If a seller can give you an exact time that your bird will be weaned, they are force weaning. There is no way to know exactly when a baby will wean if you are hand feeding it correctly. Abundance weaning is exactly the opposite of forced weaning. The bird is hand fed until she decides that she wants to stop eating formula. This is how I hand feed baby birds and every one that I've hand fed eventually loses interest in formula. There is absolutely no reason to force wean a bird. Of course, you may find a bird that is already weaned. The bird should be eating a variety of foods at this point including pellets, seeds, nuts and fresh fruits and veggies. If the seller is not offering a wide variety of foods, especially fresh foods, I would be hesitant to buy from them. If somebody offers you a baby that is not weaned, do not do it! I cannot stress this enough! Hand feeding a baby parrot is tricky and it is extremely easy to injure or even kill a baby parrot if you don't know what you are doing! A seller who sells unweaned babies is a seller to avoid.
Another important factor in the development of baby parrots is fledging. Sadly, many breeders and pet shops will clip their baby birds before they ever learn to fly. This is extremely detrimental to the mental and physical health of the bird yet is widely practiced. The baby bird needs to be allowed to fledge for it's emotional and physical well being. Fledging develops muscles and strength in a baby bird. It also gives the baby a sense of confidence. A clipped bird that has been allowed to fledge is far less clumsy and much more sure footed and confident than a bird who was clipped without the opportunity to fledge. Also, be aware that fledging does not mean that they allowed the bird to fly once and then clipped her wings. The bird must be allowed to learn to fly, which takes longer than one flight.
If a breeder or pet store employee or owner is not willing to take the time to answer your questions or is uninterested in helping you, this is a good indication that they are more interested in your money than the well being of the bird. As an employee of a pet shop, it is extremely important to me that the babies I hand raise end up in good homes. I make sure that potential customers are well informed of the good and bad aspects of living with a pet parrot. If somebody won't take the time to answer every question you have, I'd find someplace else to purchase a parrot.
To sum up, look for a baby from a reputable breeder or pet shop. Visit the establishment to inspect cleanliness and general well being of the baby birds. Check for signs of a healthy, well socialized bird and don't be afraid to ask questions. A good breeder or employee should be interested in their baby finding a good home and should therefore be interested in making sure you are as informed as possible before taking home your new baby!
Last edited by pchela on Mon Nov 30, 2009 6:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"I bet the sparrow looks at the parrot and thinks, yes, you can talk, but LISTEN TO YOURSELF!" ~ Jack Handy ~ Deep Thoughts
Before you bring home your new parrot, here is what you'll need to keep the baby healthy and happy.
First, a cage. Make sure the cage is powder coated or stainless steel. Decorative cages are not suitable for parrots. Get a cage that is good for you and the parrot. The parrot will need plenty of room to move around as he'll spend a great deal of time in his new home. Get the largest cage you can afford that has the correct bar spacing (the gap between the individual bars) for you parrot. For a Senegal I'd say that 24x24 is the minimum size cage but larger is better. Avian Adventures makes the Chiquita model cage which is 28x22 and has the correct bar spacing which can be hard to find in a larger cage. Also remember that horizontal space is more important for a parrot than vertical. In most cases, the bottom of the cage will not be used so try to go for a wide cage over a tall one. Try to get a cage that is convenient for you as well. Are the food dishes easy to get to? Is the tray easy to remove? Are there lots of nooks and crannies for food and waste to get trapped in? Remember that you will be changing food and water multiple times a day, changing the tray regularly and cleaning the entire cage fairly often. Make it as easy as possible on yourself. Also have a good supply of newspaper ready as well as some bird safe cage cleaner such as Poop Off. You'll also want to buy a smaller cage (small enough to travel with) or actual parrot carrier for trips to the vet or to act as a birdy hospital if your bird gets sick.
Next you'll want toys and perches to fill the cage. Get several different types of perches with different widths, diameters and textures. Parrots need them to avoid getting arthritis. Place them at varying heights in the cage avoiding putting them over a food or water dish. Some people like a concrete perch to keep the birds talons trimmed. If you opt for one, do not put it in the birds favorite spot. These perches can be hard on the feet and you don't want your parrot spending too much time on it. In front of the food dish is a good spot or somewhere in the middle of the cage. I also recommend a rope perch as your highest perch. All of my birds sleep on theirs and I feel they must be more comfortable for them. After perches you'll want plenty of toys. Get at least one of each of these types of toys. Something a bird can preen, something a bird can shred, some wood to chew on, a foraging toy and a swing (mine really like their boings). There are also bells and electronic toys that make sounds when the bird presses a button etc. You'll learn what your birds favorites are over time. I'd suggest getting two of each type of toy listed and switching them out about once a month so the bird doesn't get bored. Also remember that these toys are made to be destroyed. That's what parrots do so be prepared to buy new toys pretty regularly. There are also lots of websites that instruct you on how to make your own toys which can save money. For example, a simple foraging toy would be an empty paper towel tube cut in half, stuffed with an almond or other treat and folded over at the ends or a nut wrapped up in a coffee filter. Some birds like to sleep in a happy hut which is basically a hanging tent. Conures and caiques really love them so they are a necessity for these and some other types of birds. Other birds have no interest in them so you might just buy one and see if your bird likes it.
Now that you have the cage set up and full of perches and toys, you'll need food for your bird. First, your bird will need a high quality pellet. Harrisons is the best you can buy, Roudybush is another decent brand. There are several out there that you can research to find the best one. Avoid pellets with added dyes and sugars such as Zupreem pellets. I keep a dish full of pellets in the cage at all times. Next you'll need a high quality seed mix with no sunflower seeds. I personally use and love GoldenFeast Caribbean Bounty and Madagascar Delight. They also have plenty of other varieties and use human grade ingredients. There are other good brands out there as well. Find something that is healthy that your bird enjoys. I offer a small amount of seed mix once a day. Finally, you'll need fresh fruits and veggies. This is very important for your birds diet. They should be offered daily such veggies as carrots (stems and all) sweet potato, pumpkin, squash (the orange veggies are good for them), kale and other dark leafy greens, and of course your standard veggies such as green beans, pea pods etc. Never offer Avocado as it is toxic to birds. Fruits are good as well but should be used less than veggies as they are high in sugar. Mine love grapes the best. Some people make a mash with a mixture of beans, grains and veggies which they make in bulk and then freeze. This can make things easier. You will also want to have treats on hand. Birds love nuts and a few a day is okay though not too many as they are high in fat. Avoid peanuts in the shell as the shell can harbor a harmful fungus. There are also other treats much loved by parrots that can be offered sparingly such as millet spray, pine nuts etc. You'll figure out what your bird likes the best over time.
Blunt ended Scissors These can also come in handy if your bird becomes entangled in a toy or other material. Styptic Powder, or other blood clotting agent Use on bleeding nails or beaks in an emergency. Avoid using directly on skin as some styptic powders can burn skin A Carrier or small Cage A small cage or carrier can also be used as a hospital area for an injured bird. Locking Forceps, Hemostat, or good Tweezers These can be used to remove a broken blood feather First Aid Book Latex Gloves Gauze Bandages and pads Cotton swabs and Q-tips A list of emergency phone numbers Avian Veternarian or closest emergency clinic and the Poison control phone number Flashlight and batteries Syringes for medicating or giving fluids Nail clippers Heating Pad Warm (not hot) heat can often mean the difference between life and death to a serously injured bird. (optional) antibiotic ointment or spray (optional) fluids for rehydrating
I hope this list gives everybody a good idea of what they'll need for their new pet parrot. It may seem like a lot but it's all necessary for your parrots health and happiness and your parrot will love you for providing everything it needs.
"I bet the sparrow looks at the parrot and thinks, yes, you can talk, but LISTEN TO YOURSELF!" ~ Jack Handy ~ Deep Thoughts
None that I know of. There are just a handful of parrot programs out there and I've never seen any of them even mention wild Senegal Parrots. African Greys, Macaws, and Cockatoos are what most of them seem to focus on.
Michael wrote:None that I know of. There are just a handful of parrot programs out there and I've never seen any of them even mention wild Senegal Parrots. African Greys, Macaws, and Cockatoos are what most of them seem to focus on.
Damn! I would love so much to see how they are in the Wild. Someone needs to write to National Geographic!
BTW its kinda funny but when i first got my Senegal a year ago, i was looking at ur vids on youtube thinking "for fu*ks sakes, how the hell am i supposed to get mine to do that". HAHA.
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