The Meyer’s parrot has long taken a back seat in the popular Poicephalus family to its more colorful family member, the Senegal parrot. Both birds are equal in size at about 8 to 9 inches, and were once imported in large numbers, but the Meyer’s is fussier about breeding in captivity, which may be why it still plays second fiddle to its close cousin. However, many breeders who have focused on African parrots, and the Meyer’s in particular, have had good success with them.
Native Region / Natural Habitat
The Meyer’s parrot is a native of the African woodlands and savannas.
Care & Feeding
Unlike cockatoos and Amazon parrots, the Meyer’s parrot isn’t going to demand affection, but it needs a lot of handling nonetheless. An owner should have the time to spend with this parrot, though it is often content to entertain itself with something chewable, like rawhide, rope knots and soft wood.
Personality & Behavior
This affectionate, quiet, easy-going bird has a stable temperament. If the Meyer’s parrot had a motto, it would be “I go with the flow.” It is not an athletic or clownish bird, but instead prefers to watch everything carefully and with a discerning eye. The Meyer’s is happy sitting quietly on a perch, chewing up a toy and watching the world go by. They are social birds and tend to bond with everyone in the family, unlike other species that may prefer one person to another. In general, this bird isn’t fickle — once it likes someone, the person is a friend for life.
Though this species isn’t known as a cuddle-bug, these birds are affectionate and love being handled and scratched on the head and neck. A hand-fed baby will become a gentle adult if treated properly, and is not prone to nipping, though it can give a powerful bite if provoked.
Speech & Sounds
This species may learn a few words, though they are not known for their talking ability. They can learn to whistle, make clicking noises, and will occasionally offer an eardrum-piercing squeak. Fortunately, they are not prone to screaming or squawking, making them good birds for apartment living. Some individuals will learn household noises, like the beeping of the microwave.
Health & Common Conditions
A main health concerns for Poicephalus parrots is Aspergillosis, which is a common fungal disease in birds. Good care, including clean housing, a balanced diet and a non-stressful environment, can help minimize the likelihood of Aspergillosis infection. Bornavirus (PDD) is another condition to watch out for. Signs of Bornavirus infection include: weight loss despite eating, and poorly digested food and regurgitation.
Get a Meyer's Parrot
The Meyer’s is supposed to be dimorphic, meaning that there’s a visible difference between the genders, but to an untrained eye, it’s difficult to see the small differences, and even long-time breeders are often mistaken. Male Meyer’s are said to have black barring on their chests; the female’s chest is more of a solid turquoise. The male Meyer’s is also supposed to have more yellow coloring on the head and shoulders than the female, though this point is debatable. Both genders make equally good companions, so it’s not necessary to search for one over the other. Oddly, male Meyer’s greatly outnumber females, so breeders are often on the lookout for hens.
Meyer’s are often overlooked in pet stores because they aren’t as flashy as the other popular birds in their family, like the Jardine’s, though Meyer’s can be quite beautiful with its bright yellow cap and shiny turquoise chest and belly contrasted against a dark brown body. The beak is black and the feet are gray. There are said to be six subspecies and breeders discern between them before setting up a pair for nesting.
A novice bird owner might do well with the Meyer’s or Senegal parrot. Ideally, this bird should be purchased as a well-handled hand-fed youngster. Though this bird is small, its beak is powerful. Because it can live up to 25 years or more, a potential owner should think carefully before purchasing one.