Meyer’s Parrot or Brown Parrot Reproduction both in their natural habitat and in captivity: Comprehensive information on this parrot species, including setting them up for breeding, incubation, and chick-rearing and nutritional requirements.
Breeding in their Natural Habitat:
The breeding season of the Meyer’s Parrot (Poicephalus meyeri) in their natural habitat differs depends on the region they live in. In Zimbabwe, they breed from March to August (peak April to May). In Mpumalanga, they breed from March to June. In Zambia and Malawi, they breed from May through September, in Ambolia they breed in July and in Sudan they breed from December through January.
They typically nest in tree cavities 3-10 m above ground, often taking advantage of previous nest holes of woodpeckers and barbets. They may reuse the same nest hole repeatedly.
Incubation / Chick Rearing:
Each clutch consists of 2 to 4 glossy eggs, each about 25.5 x 20.0 mm or 1 x 0.8 inches in size.
The incubation usually commences after the second egg has been laid and is carried out by the female. Incubation lasts about 26 to 31 days.
The chicks are fed by both parents, who regurgitate the food upside down, to help facilitate regurgitation. The young fledge about 8 to 10 weeks later. Once they have left the nest, the young may still be dependent on their parents until they are about 12 to 13 weeks old.
The Meyer’s Parrot or Brown Parrot (Poicephalus meyeri) may be second only to the Senegal Parrot in the United States in terms of numbers held by breeders. It is, however, a rare find in Australia where they fetch a high price.
Meyer’s Parrots are ready to breed when they are about 3 to 4 years old and breed quite readily in captivity.
They should be provided a spacious aviary with non-toxic leafy branches for perching and entertaining. Chewing these branches will minimize boredom and give the birds some beak exercise. The birds will chew any flowers and fruiting bodies on the branches, which will provide added nutrition. These natural perches will need to be replaced regularly.
Please refer to above for information on egg incubation and chick raising habits of this species.
The nest box preferences are influenced by the size and type of nest-box or log in which the parents were hatched and raised. If space allows, offering a choice of sizes and types of logs or nest-boxes, placed in various locations within the aviary will allow the parents to make their own choice. Once a pair has chosen a specific nest box and are successfully raising chicks in that box, the others can be removed (they should be thoroughly cleaned before reusing them in other aviaries). It would be best to keep the preferred box for the parents’ exclusive use.
Some breeders have reported success with a nest box of the following dimensions: 18 inches high and 8 to 10 inches square. It is generally necessary to attach a climbing structure inside the box below the entrance hole. Both logs and nests need an entrance hole/opening about 100 – 150mm that is located about 4 -6 inches from the top. Most parrots prefer the entrance hole to be just big enough for them to squeeze through. Senegal Parrots typically use similar nest boxes.
Suitable nest-box litter would be decomposed non-toxic saw dust, wood shavings, peat mixture, or other suitable materials.
Meyer’s Parrots are typically intolerant of nest inspections. If the set-up allows it, it’s best to carry them out from the outside and when the parents are out of the nest box to feed. Of course, this requires the nest box to be positioned in a way that enables the breeder to inspect the nest box without entering the aviary or flight. A “reverse” nest box works well for that purpose — one which can be attached to the outside of a cage or aviary with an opening through the aviary to allow the breeders to get into the box. A removable top or lift-off lid or a side-door to provide useful access points for inspections as well as for cleaning are also necessary. Of course, outside nest boxes are not recommended if wild animals could possibly open them up, or the breeders themselves might be able to escape. It would work fine in an aviary with a sheltered area.
Please visit this web resource for in-depth information on matching up pairs, setting breeders up and raising chicks. Also covers breeding-related problems, chick and breeder health issues.
Captive birds have commonly been interbred without attempts to separate the various subspecies largely due to the fact that breeders simply do not have an understanding of the subspecies and there are no clear guidelines have been established as of this time.
In order to preserve the different subspecies, it is recommended that breeders pair up birds which share the similar physical characteristics – for example blue/bluish or green/greenish underpants and those with yellow on the head and those that do not. It is important to note that the yellow markings on the head won’t show up until a bird has molted into adult plumage, which would be when they are about 18 months old or older.
Calls / Vocalizations
These parrots are generally quiet and unlikely to annoy neighbors, which makes them a good choice for apartment dwellers and those breeders preferring quieter species.
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.
Their natural diet includes fruits, berries, flowers, seeds, nuts, as well as the occasional insect. They may also forage on cultivated crops.