Quick Facts

  • The female vasa parrot turns from gray to brown during breeding season
  • The female loses most of her head feathers during breeding season and the skin on her head turns mustard yellow
  • Male vasa parrots are smaller than females
  • Diet & Nutrition: Parrot food

Vasa Parrot

Coracopsis

Vasa parrot, black parrot

photo by Frank Wouters

The vasa is similar in size to an African grey but has a noticeable long neck, long legs and long, blunted tail feathers. During fall months (October until December), however, the vasa’s appearance changes dramatically; to the point that you might not recognize the bird at all!

While some parrots’ feathers change color after undergoing a molt, the female vasa’s feathers change color without dropping a feather; she undergoes a color-change from smoky gray to light brown without going through a molt. But that’s just the beginning of her magical transformation. She goes bald (in the vasa’s world, you might say, “Bald is beautiful!”). Her bald head starts out as pale but turns dark yellow, same for the facial area. The male’s facial skin turns yellow, too, but he keeps his head feathers. One of the more shocking physical transformations during breeding season is that the male vasa parrot’s  cloaca prolapses (comes down from its normal inside-the-body position) to be a hemipenis (up to 2 inches in length), which is thought to aid in prolonged mating.

Native Region / Natural Habitat

vasa parrot, black parrot

photo by AEM -Picasa web Albums

Vasa parrots are native to Madagascar and nearby islands.The greater vasa parrot (CoracopsisC. vasa) can be found in dry deciduous forest habitat, while the lesser vasa (C. nigra) is common to humid forests.

The vasa chick’s incubation period is the quickest among large parrots; instead of 30 days like an African grey, vasas incubate for less than 20 days, with an average range of 17 to 18 days.

Care & Feeding

Vasas are enthusiastic bathers, and they need frequent bathing opportunities. They also enjoy sunbathing and dirt bathing, which is uncommon for parrots. An aviary or flight cage setup is ideal for vasa parrots because it offers more ample space for these very active birds to fly and room to explore. Vasas are good eaters and appreciate a variety of foods, such fresh fruit and vegetables along with a pelleted base diet.

Personality & Behavior

Vasa parrots are extremely active birds and they are avid eaters — they love food as much as an Amazon parrot! Vasa parrots love to take baths. Pet bird toys are a must for vasa parrots, in order to keep them happy and healthy. Vasa parrots do best in an aviary where they can fly, stretch and play enough to accommodate their active nature and large size. These are curious parrots that need toys and foraging activities to keep them happy.

Female vasa parrots are said to be dominate and even aggressive toward the male. The female vasa is a bit larger than the male. In the wild, the female has been noted to mate with different males, which is unusual for parrots.

Companion vasa parrots are not known to be territorial nor to be one-person birds.

Speech & Sounds

Vasa parrots are comparably quieter parrots and do a whine-like call. During breeding season, however, their noise level increases noticeably.

Health & Common Conditions

Vasa parrots are susceptible to psittacine beak and feather disease.

Get a Vasa Parrot

Vasa parrots are rare in aviculture, although they are occasionally available as pets at avian specialty stores and bird breeders.