Poicephalus: Short-tailed Parrots

The Poicephalus parrots consists of nine parrot species that are native to Africa. Several of the species exist in slightly different forms (or subspecies).

The species most commonly kept in captivity are:

Complete species list

Some Poicephalus parrot species are rare and not known or rare in captivity.

Poicephalus as Pets

These parrots are very popular in the pet trade and are considered a great choice for those who want to “step up” to a mid-size parrot. Compared to their larger cousins, they are easier to keep in apartments, as they are generally quieter and smaller. They are animated, clowny birds that can learn tricks and many learn to talk.

These parrots do well in one-bird households. Working people have had great success even if these birds are left alone for much of the day, as long as they have a roomy cage and lots of toys to keep them entertained. They do need daily interaction with their owner.

Neglected birds can and will become cage bound and anti social. Most make good first birds. Some are very tolerant of small children, and even friendly around them.

Learn more about their pet potential (Personality Traits, Challenges & Care)

Rueppell's Parrot or Rüppell's Parrot (Poicephalus rueppellii)

Breeding Poicephalus Parrots / Reproduction

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    Origin / Distribution

    These African parrots are native to various regions of the Afrotropic ecozone, including Sub-Saharan Africa, ranging from Senegal in the west, Ethiopia in the east, and to Cape Horn in the south.

    Description

    Poicephalus parrots are generally stocky with short broad tails and proportionately large heads and beaks. In some of the species, the gender can easily be identified from variations in feather coloration and sizes; but in other species both males and females look alike.

    Natural Diet / Captive Feeding

    Taxonomy:

    Class: Aves … Order: Psittaciformes … Family: Psittacidae … Subfamily: Psittacinae

    Genus: Scientific: Poicephalus … English: Short-tailed Parrots … Dutch: Langvleugelpapegaaien … German: Langflügelpapageien … French: Perroquets aux ailes longes

    CITES II: Endangered Species


    Meyer's Parrot (Poicephalus meyeri)
    Sub-species:

    Abessinian Parrots aka Red-bellied Parrots or Red-breasted Parrots

    • ID: Similar in shape and a slightly larger bird than the Senegal Parrot, averaging 22 cm (8.5 – 8.8 ins) on length. Wings, heads and backs are greyish-brown. The lower back predominantly yellow-green with blue tinge. Breasts, under-wing coverts and cheeks are washed with orange. The under-wing coverts and thighs are aqua green.
    • Range: East Africa, specifically Central Ethiopia, south to Pangani district north-eastern Tanzania

    Angola Brown Parrots

    • ID: Looks like nominate Meyer’s Parrots, but greyish-brown of head and upper breast much darker and blackish. They lack the yellow to the crown and are larger.
    • Range: Northern and central Angola as well as adjacent areas of Congo.

    Brown-headed Parrots

    • ID: Mostly green, except for the greyish-brown head and nape. Yellow markings under its wings and thighs.
    • Range: Eastern South Africa to southern Mozambique

    Cape Parrots aka Tori Parrots aka Brown-necked ParrotsRed-bellied Conure

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      • ID: Mostly green plumage. Head is greenish-brown to yellowish-brown flecked dark brown and dull green.
      • Range: West Africa, East Africa, and south from there to South Africa, including the Eastern Cape region

      Damaraland Brown Parrots

      • ID: Look like nominate Meyer’s Parrot, but greyish-brown of head and upper breast a darker grey. Lack the yellow to the crown.
      • Range: Southern Angola, northern and central Namibia and northwest Botswana

      East African Brown Parrots

      • ID: As nominate Meyer’s Parrot, but greyish-brown of head and upper breast slightly darker. Yellow feathers present on crown.
      • Range: Southeast Kenya, Tanzania, northern Malawi, Zambia and southeast Congo

      Kenya Jardine’s Parrots (Sub-species – Orange Crowned)

      Kuhl’s Cape ParrotsBrown-headed Parrot (Poicephalus cryptoxanthus)

      • ID: Grey/brown neck. Dark green upper parts, light green lower parts and have orange on their shoulders
      • Range: South Africa

      Jardine’s Parrot aka Red-headed Parrots

      • ID: Orange-red on forehead to forecrown, wings and thighs
      • Range: Congo River basin.

      Masai Red-headed Parrots

      • ID: Similar to nominate Jardine’s Parrot, except the orange-red on the head is less extensive occurring on the forehead above the beak
      • Endemic in the highlands (1800 to 3500m) of southern Kenya and northern Tanzania

      Meyer’s Parrots

      • ID: Plumage mostly brownish-grey with yellow patches on the bend of the wings and thighs
      • Range: South Chad to West Ethiopia

      Niam-Niam ParrotsMeyer's Parrot (Poicephalus meyeri)

      • ID: Mostly green. Head and nape are greyish-brown – washed olive-yellow.
      • Range: Eastern Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, southwest Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire)

      Orange-bellied Parrots

      • ID: Grey head. A bit paler overall than the nominate Senegal Parrot, but with a deeper orange coloration on the abdomen.
      • Range: Eastern to north-eastern Nigeria, northern Cameroon, south-western Chad

      Orange-crowned Parrots

      • ID: Similar to the nominate Jardine’s Parrot. The forecrown is orange and there is an orange-red or orange on the wings. It’s slightly smaller.
      • Range: Liberia to southern Ghana

      Orange-faced Parrots

      • ID: Like nominate Yellow-faced Parrot, except face more orangey. Disputed species.
      • Range: Masango area and Gila River, south-western Ethiopia

      Red-bellied Parrots

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        • ID: Similar in shape and a slightly larger bird than the Senegal Parrot, averaging 22 cm (8.5 – 8.8 ins) on length. Wings, heads and backs are greyish-brown. The lower back predominantly yellow-green with blue tinge. Breasts, under-wing coverts and cheeks are washed with orange. The under-wing coverts and thighs are aqua green.
        • Range: East Africa, specifically Central Ethiopia, south to Pangani district north-eastern Tanzania

        Red-vented ParrotsJardine's Parrot

        • ID: Grey head, darker green upperparts than the nominate Senegal Parrot, and a deep-orange/red abdomen
        • Range: Ivory Coast and Ghana east to Western Nigeria

        Reichenow’s Orange-bellied Parrots

        • ID: Grey head. A bit paler overall than the nominate Senegal Parrot, but with a deeper orange coloration on the abdomen.
        • Range: Eastern to north-eastern Nigeria, northern Cameroon, south-western Chad

        Rüppell’s Parrots, Ruppel’s or Rueppel’s Parrots

        • ID: Plumage mostly dark brown. Head dark greyish. Some yellow markings on their wings and upper legs.
        • Range: Central Namibia and southwest Angola to Luanda

        Senegal Parrots

        • Id: Grey head, green back and chest. Yellow abdomen.
        • Range: Western Africa – Southern Mauritania, southern Mali to Guinea, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, and Lobos Island, east to southern Niger, northern Cameroon and south western Chad

        Somalia Red-bellied Parrots

        • ID: Like nominate Red-bellied Parrot, but the greyish-brown of the head and upper breast are paler
        • Range: Eastern Ethiopia and Somalia.

        South African Brown ParrotsJardine's Parrot

        • ID: Look like nominate Meyer’s Parrot
        • Has yellow markings on the head and a greenish belly.
        • Range: Botswana, Zimbabwe and northern South Africa

        Tansanian Brown-headed Parrots

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          • ID: As nominate Brown-headed Parrot, but head more olive-brown. The breast, abdomen and under tail-coverts are yellowish-green.
          • Range: Mozambique north of Save River, southern Mali, eastern Tanzania and most southeastern part of Kenia

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

          • ID: Look like nominate Meyer’s Parrot. Has yellow markings on the head with a green belly
          • Range: Uganda and West Kenya to West Tanzania

          Yellow-faced Parrots

          • ID:: Mostly green. Forehead, crown and upper cheeks are yellow.
          • Range: Northern and central Ethiopia

          Zanzibar Brown-headed Parrots / disputed sub-species

          • ID: As nominate Brown-headed Parrot, but the head more olive-brown. They are larger.
          • Range: Zanzibar and Pemba Islands
          Cape Parrots
          Short-tailed Parrot
          Photo of author

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