Colorful and relatively small, Senegal is remarkably calm and composed. He can talk and mime, although he is not the most prolific. He has an affectionate and funny disposition; his comic antics are entertaining and playful. This charmer is also less expensive than most parrots and more commonly available in regular pet stores than most tropical birds.
COMMON NAMES: Senegal Parrot, Sunnies
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Poicephalus senegalus
ADULT SIZE: 10 inches long, weight 4 to 6 ounces.
LIFETIME: 50 years, although more common between 20 and 30 years.
Origin and History
The Senegal parrot is native to the forests of central West Africa. The parrot genus Poicephalus includes 10 species from central Africa, characterized by their stocky bodies, short tails, and relatively large heads and beaks.
Trade in these wild-caught birds is illegal; fortunately, Senegalese can be easily propagated in captivity.
Hand-fed Senegalese are exceptional pets and are known to be amusing.
Most well-socialized Senegals have a friendly disposition, but potential owners should be aware that Senegals tend to become “one-person” birds and may not want interaction with other family members. Having all family members interact with your Senegal will help prevent this one-person bond from occurring.
These adorable and highly trainable little parrots are a great source of entertainment and enjoyment for their owners. Although not as common as African Gray Geese or Cockatoos, they have earned a reputation as easy-going and playful companion birds.
Language and vocalizations
Senegals can speak and mime, although they are much quieter than many other parrots. Compared to other parrots, they are not known for their ability to speak, but they can learn. They have the ability to speak a few words.
All birds make noise. Senegalese are not mute, they are just quieter (and less shrill) than other parrot species. Their vocalizations consist mainly of whistles and cackles. A Senegal parrot may be the right choice for you if you live in an apartment or if your room cannot tolerate a noisy bird.
Colors and markings of the Senegal parrot
The head of adult Senegal parrots is gray, and the wings and chest are green. On the belly is a V-shaped color patch that ranges from yellow to orange to red, depending on the subspecies.
There are two subspecies, the more common Poicephalus senegalus senegalus, which has a yellow breastplate, and P. s. versteri, which has a bright orange breastplate.
This is a monomorphic species, meaning that senegalus senegalus of both sexes is identically colored. To distinguish the sexes, your bird would need to be surgically sexed or have a DNA test.
Care of a Senegal Parrot
Since the Senegal Parrot is smaller, he does not need a large cage. At a minimum, he needs a cage that is 20 inches by 20 inches and 28 inches high; larger cages are always preferable. Of course, if you have two birds, the cage should be slightly larger. The spacing between bars should be about 3/4 inch.
Potential keepers should also invest in a variety of toys and accessories for their birds. Senegalese can be very eager to buy, so it’s a good idea to provide them with toys to exercise their beaks.
Sunnies, as they are affectionately called by many owners, is close with their owners and enjoy daily interaction with them. Anyone interested in Senegal must be willing to spend time interacting and spending time with the bird each day. The time spent interacting with them is usually not a burden, as these birds are usually content to sit on your shoulder.
Common health problems
The biggest health problem for Senegal and other Poicephalus parrots is aspergillosis, a common fungal disease in birds. Keep the cage clean and provide a balanced diet to reduce the likelihood of this infection. Also ensure adequate ventilation, especially in hot, humid climates.
Bornavirus is another contagious disease that can affect Senegal parrots. Watch for weight loss and poor digestion. This disease is usually transmitted by infected birds and can persist for many years before symptoms appear. There is no treatment for this disease. Owners should ensure that Senegal parrots do not come into contact with other birds until they are quarantined.
Senegal parrots can become overweight, especially if they are fed mainly on seeds and do not eat enough fresh fruits and vegetables.
Diet and nutrition
In the wild, Senegal parrots feed mainly on fruits, seeds, and flowers. Senegal kept as pets should be fed a varied diet consisting of fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy seeds such as flax, hemp, and chia seeds, nuts, and a high-quality pelleted diet. In general, Senegalese should eat 1/4 cup of food per day. Feed a mixture of seeds and pellets each morning. Give as much as the bird can eat. Supplement pellet food with fruit and vegetables.
Consider preparing cutlets, and fresh frozen food that you can make yourself. This is an easy and convenient way to provide your Senegal with a wide variety of vegetables, grains, and vegetable protein.
As with any other bird, you should provide fresh water in a clean bowl daily. Avoid feeding your Senegal only seeds, as this is very unhealthy and can lead to illness or even death from lack of nutrients.
A Senegal parrot should spend at least 1 hour a day outside the cage on a play table or other bird-proof area. Provide toys such as small foot toys, bells, balls, chewing leather, and wooden toys. These items will keep your Senegal entertained when you are not in their enclosure. They love to climb and can be real acrobats. These birds enjoy a variety of swings, ladders, and other toys to explore.
- Social, friendly, and loves to be petted.
- Intelligent, can speak a few words
- Quiet bird, the noise level should be adequate for nearby neighbors
- Requires a lot of attention and mental stimulation
- Tends to be one-person birds, not the best family pet
Where can you adopt or buy a Senegal parrot?
If you think a Senegal parrot might be the right bird for you, contact an adoption and education charity or parrot rescue center and try to arrange a visit. You may find a bird there that needs a home. Although the Senegal parrot is an uncomplicated pet that is rarely put up for adoption, some birds lose their homes due to unforeseen circumstances. On average, breeders sell Senegalese parrots for between $800 and $1,500.
Online rescues, adoption organizations, and breeders where you can find Senegal parrots are:
- Adopt a pet
- Ginger’s parrots
- Bird breeders
Look for a bright, alert and active bird. Avoid a bird that sits still with fluffy feathers; it may be sick. The bird’s feathers should be soft and glossy and close to the body. The feathers around the throat (the opening through which the bird excretes feces and urine) should be clean, dry, and free of feces. The scales on the feet should be smooth. Make sure the nails are in good condition and the beak is smooth and well-formed. The nostrils should be clear and clean.