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Commonly kept species of the genus Poicephalus include the Senegal parrot, Red-bellied parrot, Meyer’s parrot, Jardine’s parrot, Cape parrot, and Brown-headed parrot.

Endearing Characteristics:
Parrots of the genus Poicephalus have short rounded bodies and short tails. These compact birds have big personalities similar to lovebirds. However their movements are not as quick as a lovebird. This is especially true with the larger Cape parrot. Their movements tend to be more slow and deliberate compared to their close relatives. Cape parrots also often capture parrot lovers hearts due to the permanent “smile” that seems to be the result of the shape of their beak. Compared to other poi’s the Cape parrot’s beak also appears a bit oversized for his body.

The smaller species usually have vibrant colored irises. This makes it easy to see eye pinning. Many Senegal parrots, Meyer’s parrots, etc are easily aroused and present very impressive eye pinning often accompanied by high pitched whistles or sounds. Faster moving than the Cape parrot the smaller Poicephalus parrots are more inclined to participate in boisterous play activities.

Poicephalus parrots are not known for the loud calls other parrot species are famous for. This characteristic often makes them desired as companion birds. Although they are not known for their talking abilities they can and do occasionally learn to mimic human speech.

Potential Behavior Problems:
A Poicephalus parrot that has identified a territory or nest site can be a challenge. The confidence that makes these small parrots endearing also translates into fearlessness when it comes to territorial behavior. A Poicephalus parrot defending a territory may fluff up feathers, pin eyes and march or climb around its cage when an undesired person enters his space. Persistent invasion of the territory can lead to painful bites.

Fortunately aggressive behavior can be addressed. Ideally parrot owners will want to avoid creating aggressive behavior by reducing interactions that contribute to courtship or sexual displays. Items in the cage that are perceived as nest boxes may need to be removed. Diets can be altered to reduce fat and protein content. All these changes can help reduce the production of hormones related to reproduction. Elevated hormone levels make it more likely the parrot will be triggered to present aggressive behavior. You can learn more about hormonal production in the article by Pamela Clark in the free sample of Good Bird Magazine.

In addition Poicephalus parrot owners can alter the way they interact with their parrot. Target training can be used to teach your parrot to move in and out of his cage without having your hands near the bird. Additional hands-off behaviors to train include turn around, wave, and retrieve. These hands-off behaviors will help you build trust with your bird and give him other behaviors to focus on instead of aggressive behavior.

Toby the Meyer’s parrot featured in the video that follows once showed very challenging aggressive behavior. His owner could no longer handle his bird due to his biting. After training hands-off behaviors with positive reinforcement he successfully turned the relationship around. Toby now steps up readily, presents numerous tricks, runs an obstacle course, allows restraint in a towel and also cooperates for nail trims. See more of Toby in the DVDs Parrot Behavior and Training: An Introduction to Training and Understanding Parrot Body Language.

Meyer’s Parrot Training Example:

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Toby the Meyer’s parrot is trained to run an obstacle course.

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: Toby once showed aggressive behavior. Positive reinforcement
training changed his behavior. Here he learns to allow head scratches.


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