Meyer’s Parrots as Pets

The Meyer’s Parrots or Brown Parrots (Poicephalus meyeri) have gained popularity as pets for a variety of reasons ….

Male Meyer's Parrot
Meyer’s Parrot: Description, Sub-species and Natural RangeBreeding Meyer’s Parrots

Suitability as Pets

A well-socialized Meyer’s Parrot generally has a sweet personality – quite similar to that of the popular, and generally better known Senegal Parrot. Although some opine that the Meyer’s may have a little milder disposition than its cousin.

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    Hand-raised Meyers are generally friendly, affectionate and playful. It is important to familiarize and socialize them with the entire family, or they will bond to one person only. Well-socialized Meyer’s Parrots enjoy being the center of attention and generally make great family birds. 

    Meyers adapt readily to new surroundings and should be well adapted to many novel experiences at a young age. Adult birds are less adaptable to unfamiliar environments and dietary changes.

    They become more independent as they reach sexual maturity. Adult males may become aggressive during breeding season. (Please refer to hormonal behavior page for information.)

    Generally, they are not demanding birds and are happy to keep themselves busy with their toys for stretches during the daytime.

    A spacious cage that accommodates plenty of toys and still allows your pet room for moving around is a must – particularly for any bird that is confined to a cage for longer stretches during the daytime.

    Those birds who spend most of their time outside their cage do fine in smaller cages, as long as they can still freely flap their wings and have some toys to occupy themselves with.

    Meyer’s Parrot (Poicephalus meyeri)

    Calls / Vocalizations

    These parrots are generally quiet and unlikely to annoy neighbors, which makes them a good choice for apartment dwellers.

    Their natural vocalizations consist of screeches, or when they are alarmed they will growl which can then escalate into shrieking cries. They may also mimic sounds they hear in their environment.

    Even though they are not the greatest talkers, they may learn to say a few words.

    Care and Feeding:

    Meyer’s Parrots are active little parrots that love to climb and play. It is important to make sure that they get 10 to 12 hours of undisturbed sleep a day.

    Housing

    They need to be provided with a roomy cage with the following MINIMUM dimensions: 20″ long x 20″ deep x 18″ high. Ideally, it should be closer to 40″ long x 20″ deep to 32″ high with a bar spacing of 5/8″ to 3/4″. The smaller the cage, the less time a bird should be forced to spend in it.

    You have to remember, that a cage is not just a place to “store” birds, but it should be your pet’s home — it needs to be able to move around freely, flap its wings — and should have room for lots of toys to entertain your pet with.

    Amongst their favorite toys are love swings and boings. Don’t overstuff the cage though — your pet should have sufficient room to fly or at least flap its wings.

    Since these little parrots like to climb, cages with horizontal bars (at least on two sides) work best as they will allow your pet to climb around more easily. Offering a separate play gym either on top of the cage or as a separate item, will provide a safe place to hang out when your pet is out of its cage.

    Natural wood perches are always best, but it’s also a good idea to keep a grooming perch in its cage as well, to keep the nails naturally groomed. A filled food and water dish should be available at all time.

    They like to bathe — so a bath house with a textured bottom or a shallow bathing dish are favorites. Some birds like to shower under a slow running faucet.

    Provide a breeding box if you have a compatible pair and wish to breed them.  Some birds may like a box for roosting — which is especially important in places where it gets colder as a roosting box offers some protection from draft and chill.

    Male Meyer's Parrot

    Diet

    Their natural diet includes fruits, berries, flowers, seeds, nuts, as well as the occasional insect. They may also forage on cultivated crops.

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      Captive birds need a varied diet to stay healthy. To start with, it’s important to choose a high-quality dry parrot mix containing a mixture of canary grass seed, white / red / yellow millets, oats and groats, niger seed, linseed, as well as thistle, anise, rape, sesame and safflower seeds.

      Some mixes contain dehydrated fruits and veggies, as well as herbs / greens.

      Dr. Harvey’s Bird Food Mixes or Lafeber are convenient options that lack many of the harmful additives that are commonly found in commercial mixes and have a great variety of quality ingredients (including dried fruits, veggies, herbs / greens and even superfoods, such as bee pollen!) – in short: myriad nourishing ingredients that are not found in other commercially available bird mixes.

      However, our biggest grievance with their products is that they use sulphurated dried produce (a process which also requires chemicals), but it is very difficult to find mixes with unsulphurated fruits and veggies.

      You could just buy the seeds, nuts and grain mix and buy human-grade unsulphurated dried produce / greens as well as bee pollen and mix them in.

      Even organic trail mixes (WITHOUT CHOCOLATE!) work great. With a little creativity you can put a mix together that offers superior nutrition without the chemicals typically found in commercial brands.

      Of course, fresh drinking and bathing water should always be available.

      Also please check out this webpage:


      Species Research by Sibylle Johnson


      Meyer's Parrots or Brown Parrots (Poicephalus meyeri)

      Training and Behavioral Guidance:

      Pet parrots generally present challenges, such as excessive chewing – especially at certain stages in their life. They do discover their beaks as method of “disciplining us” once they are out of the “baby stage” and they can generally be somewhat naughty, and it really is important to learn to understand them and to guide their behavior before an undesirable behavior has been established.

      Undisciplined parrots will chew on electric wiring potentially causing house fires.

      They regard anything in your home as a “toy” that can be explored and chewed on; destroying items that you may hold dear or are simply valuable.

      Even a young bird that has not been neglected and abused requires proper guidance; this becomes even more challenging when it involves a rescued bird that may require rehabilitation.

      • Web Resources: I put together web resources for you to help you understand your pet bird and properly direct him. Please visit the following website to learn more about parrot behavior and training.

      Beauty Of Birds strives to maintain accurate and up-to-date information; however, mistakes do happen. If you would like to correct or update any of the information, please contact us. THANK YOU!!!

      Meyer’s Parrots or Brown Parrots (Poicephalus meyeri)

      Indian Ringneck

      The Meyer’s Parrots or Brown Parrots (Poicephalus meyeri) are small, stocky African parrots that occupy most non-coastal areas south of the Sahara (central and eastern Africa).

      This species was named after the German naturalist Berhard Meyer.

      In the wild, they are the smallest and most common of all Poicephalus parrots. In recent years, these parrots have gained popularity in the pet trade and are imported in large numbers. In the United States, this species may be second only to the Senegal Parrot in terms of numbers held by breeders. This species is, however, a rare find in Australia.

      Their maximum recorded lifespan in captivity is just under 35 years. 

      Meyer’s Parrots as Pets / Suitability and Care 
      Breeding the Meyer’s Parrots 

      Subspecies:

      This species has been the most challenging to separate into subspecies and is possibly split up into six subspecies based on home range, size and markings, including extent of yellow markings on the head and wings, as well as intensity of blue, turquoise or green markings on the abdomen or rump.

      The subspecies are:

      Yellow Markings:

      Meyer’s Parrots or Brown ParrotsPoicephalus meyeri meyeri (Cretzschmar, 1827) – Nominate species

      • Range: South Chad to West Ethiopia
      • Id: Yellow on the head with a turquoise-bluish belly

      Uganda Yellow-shouldered Parrots aka Kenya Meyer, Meyer’s ParrotsPoicephalus meyeri saturatus (Sharpe, 1901)

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        • Range: Uganda and West Kenya to West Tanzania
        • Id: YellUganda Yellow-shouldered Parrots aka Kenya Meyer, Meyer's Parrots - Poicephalus meyeri saturatus ow on the head with a green belly

        South African Brown ParrotsPoicephalus meyeri trasvaalensis (Neumann, 1899)

        • Range: Botswana, Zimbabwe and northern South Africa
        • Id: Yellow on the head with a greenish belly

        East African Brown ParrotsPoicephalus meyeri matschiei (Neumann, 1898)

        • Range: Central Tanzania, South-east Congo, Zambia and North Malaw
        • Id: Yellow on the head and a bright blue belly

        No Yellow Markings on Head:

        The western races P. m. damarensis and P. m. reichenowi lack yellow markings on the head.

        Damaraland Brown ParrotsPoicephalus meyeri damarensis (Neumann, 1898)

        • Range: North Namibia, South Angola and northwestern Botswana
        • Id: No yellow on the head and a turquoise belly

        Angola Brown ParrotsPoicephalus meyeri reichenowi (Neumann, 1898)

        • Range: Central Angola to South Congo
        • Id: No yellow on the head and a turquoise belly

        Approximate ranges of the six races. Colors are assigned suggesting the abdomen colour of the particular race.

        There is some controversy about the validity and identification of the subspecies. Many conflicting identification reports have been published on this topic. The natural range of these birds overlaps to such an extent that interbreeding has undoubtedly occurred in the wild.

        Unfortunately, captive birds are often impossible to classify as they are commonly interbred – one major reason being the unavailability of a true and unrelated species mate as well as a lack of understanding of the different sub-species. In order to preserve the sub-species, it is hoped that breeders make an attempt at matching up same-species birds.

        Distribution / Range

        They are from central and eastern sub-Saharan Africa – an extremely large land mass. Specifically, these parrots can be found in Southern Chad, northeast Cameroon, Central African Republic, as well as the southern Sudan and western Ethiopia. They appear to be most prolific in Zimbabwe and northern Botswana. There was no evidence to support any local migrations.

        Like Senegal Parrots, the Meyer’s Parrots inhabit the moist woodland areas, the edges of the dry savannah, wooded grasslands, forests along watercourses and agricultural land – up to 2200m (7216 ft). On occasion, they are also found in suburban areas.

        They are usually seen in pairs or small flocks; however, occasionally large gatherings of up to 50 of them are observed in favored feeding areas.

        These shy and wary birds roost in tree cavities.

        Meyer’s Parrot (Poicephalus meyeri)

        Description

        This is a small and stocky African parrot, averaging 8 – 10 inches (21 – 25 cm) in length. Their wing length is about 5.5 to 6 inches (141 – 149 cm). They weigh about 3.5-4.7 oz or 100-135g.

        They are similar in shape and size to the Senegal, Brown-headed and Red-bellied Parrots. Like the Red-bellied Parrots, they have orange-red irises.

        The plumage is mostly brownish-grey with yellow patches on the bend of the wings and thighs and – depending on the subspecies – also on the head. Their abdomen is green and the rump is blue or turquise. The upperside of the tail is brown and the underside is dark grey. Their feet are dark grey. The eye (periophthalmic) rings are black and the bill is black.

        Females look like males, and if gender identification is important (for example for breeding birds), DNA / Feather or surgical sexing is recommended. Some visual sexing can be attempted using the same method as for the brown-headed parrots: the male has a larger beak, larger head and the head tends to be flatter on top.

        Young / immature birds are generally greenish-brown without the yellow crown and thighs. The lower breast and abdomen are green. The yellow on the bend of the wing is less extensive. Their under wing-coverts are brownish-green and interspersed with yellow. The lower back is blue. Young birds have dark brown irises. They attain the adult plumage when they are about 12 months old.

        Meyer’s Parrot or Brown Parrot (Poicephalus meyeri)

        Meyer's Parrots

        Calls / Vocalizations

        Their contact calls consist of a series of screeches, often with brief pauses. Their alarm calls start with a growl and escalate into shrieking cries. Captive birds mimic sounds around them. 

        Their natural diet includes fruits, berries, flowers, seeds, nuts, as well as the occasional insect. They may also forage on cultivated crops.

        The Diet / Nutritional Requirements of Meyer’s Parrots 

        Status

        Meyer’s parrots are relatively common in the wild and, as such, are classified as Low Risk / Least Concern on the IUCN Red List. However, even though they are not considered globally threatened, their populations have dramatically decreased in South Africa and Zimbabwe, mostly due to habitat destruction and persecution owing to damage of crops. They are also heavily trapped for the pet trade, which contributes to their declining numbers.


        Taxonomy:

        Species: Scientific: Poicephalus meyeri meyeri … English: Meyer’s Parrot … Dutch: Meyers Papegaai … German: Goldbugpapagei, Meyers Papagei … French: Perroquet de Meyer … CITES II – Endangered Species


        Sub-species:

        Angola Brown Parrots:

        Species: Scientific: Poicephalus meyeri reichenowi … English: Angola Brown Parrot … Dutch: Angola Meyers Papegaai … German: Angola- Goldbuchpapagei … French: Perroquet de Reichenow … CITES II – Endangered Species

        Description: As meyeri, but greyish-brown of head and upper breast much darker and blackish (not dark brown as described by some authors); back and wing-coverts blackish; lower back and rump bright light blue to blue; lower breast and abdomen vary from turquoise to light blue; abdomen plumage very interspersed with black in most birds; yellow to crown absent; larger. … Length: 24 cm (9.5 ins), wing length 148 – 174 mm (6 – 7 ins)

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          Distribution: Northern and central Angola as well as adjacent areas of Congo.


          Damaraland Brown Parrots:

          Species: Scientific: Poicephalus meyeri damarensis … English: Damaraland Brown Parrot … Dutch: Damaraland Meyers Papegaai … German: Damaraland-Goldbuchpapagei … French: Perroquet de Meyer laterre Damara … CITES II – Endangered Species

          Distribution: Southern Angola, northern and central Namibia and northwest Botswana; overlaps with transvaalensis in Okavango Region, Botswana

          Description: As meyeri, but greyish-brown of head and upper breast a darker grey. The back and wing-coverts are lighter blackish. The lower back and rump are light blue. The lower breast and abdomen are turquoise. The yellow to the crown is absent. Slightly larger. … Length: 22 cm (8.5 ins), wing length 149 – 160 mm (6 – 6.25 ins)


          East African Brown Parrots:

          Species: Scientific: Poicephalus meyeri matchiei … English: East African Brown Parrot … Dutch: Oost-Afrikaanse Meyers Papegaai German: Ostafrikanischer Goldbugpapagei … CITES II – Endangered Species .

          Description: As nominate meyeri, but greyish-brown of head and upper breast slightly darker. The back and wing-coverts are blackish. The lower back and rump are bright light blue. The lower breast and abdomen vary from turquoise to light blue. Yellow feathers present on crown. On average slightly larger. … Length: 22 cm (8.5 ins), wing length 142 – 160 mm (5.5 – 6 ins)

          Distribution: Southeast Kenya, Tanzania, northern Malawi, Zambia and southeast Congo


          South African Brown Parrots:

          Species: Scientific: Poicephalus meyeri transvaalensis … English: South African Brown Parrot … Dutch: Zuid-Afrikaanse Meyers Papegaai … German: Südafrikanischer Goldbugpapagei … French: Perroquet Transvaal de Meyer … CITES II – Endangered Species

          Description: As meyeri, but greyish-brown of head and upper breast darker and more brownish (not paler brown or lighter as described by some authors); back and wing-coverts blackish; lower back and rump greenish with distinct light blue to bright light blue feathering; lower breast and abdomen greener and uniform turquoise; yellow to crown present in almost all birds; on average slightly larger; this sub-species differs from saturatus only by greenish-light blue rump. … Length: 22 cm (8.5 ins), wing length 142 – 160 mm (5.5 – 6 ins)

          Distribution: Northeast Mozambique, Zimbabwe and eastern Lesotho; isolated population in Cape Province, South Africa probably originated from escaped birds.


          Uganda Yellow-shouldered Parrots aka Kenya Meyer, Meyer’s Parrots:

          Species: Scientific: Poicephalus meyeri saturatus … English: Uganda Yellow-shouldered Parrot … Dutch: Oeganda Meyers Papegaai … German: Uganda Goldbugpapagei … French: Perroquet Uganda de Meyer …CITES II– Endangered Species

          Description: As meyeri, but greyish-brown of head and upper breast darker and more blackish; back and wing-coverts blackish; lower back and rump light blue (not green washed with pale blue as described by some authors); lower breast and abdomen much greener; varies from turquoise to green; yellow feathers to crown present; on average slightly larger. … Length: 22 cm (8.5 ins), wing length 144 – 158 mm (5.5 – 6 ins)

          Distribution: Central and eastern Africa

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