Find out a Jardine’s favourite food, toys and more.
Red-headed, Red-crowned and Red-fronted Parrot.
About 28cm (11in) in the nominate race — the third largest member of the genus (after Cape and Grey-headed). As they are a similar size to a Meyer’s or Senegal, these are the products that may be suitable for them.
Status in wild
Generally scarce, except in Congo River basin in evergreen forests.
Central and west-central Africa. Liberia, Ivory Coast and Ghana (P.g.fantiensis), southern Cameroon and Central African Republic south to northern Angola (nominate race) and highlands of southern Kenya and northern Tanzania (P.g.massaicus).
Jardine’s are not yet commonly kept as pets, but only because there are relatively few breeders. Most people who are fortunate enough to have them, rate them highly. One owner described them as: “The Amazons of Africa without the screaming and aggression.” That is a little unfair to Amazons but I know what she meant.
However, like all Poicephalus, Jardine’s can go through a nippy stage which is in total contrast to their adorable compliance as very young birds. This can be a difficult period to get through but with kindness and patience on the part of everyone in contact with the bird, it will pass.
A friend brought his young male Jardine’s to my house when I had a gathering of friends and the young Parrot was passed from hand to hand and enchanted everyone. A year later when I went to my friend’s house I did not like the glint in the bird’s eye and felt that he was no longer trustworthy with strangers. But then some owners expect too much that a Parrot should go to someone that it does not know.
Kind but strict discipline should be practised. Again, Jardine’s can resemble Greys in that they are strong-willed birds who will dominate if you let them.
Most of their vocalisations are soft, almost musical, but if frightened they can growl like a Grey. Not being loud is a big advantage in many homes. Some are surprisingly good mimics of words and sounds such as whistling, coughing and laughing. Like Greys, they tend to talk when no-one is looking.
Favoured items include hawthorn berries, pomegranate, red bell pepper and peas in the pod.
A Jardine offered a seed mixture, plus apple, pear, grapes and orange, with a piece of biscuit or wholemeal bread, would be seriously deficient in the two most vital components of its diet — calcium and Vitamin A.
A Parrot that eats carrot (par-boiled), raw or cooked red bell peppers (not chilli peppers), fresh apricots, dandelion roots and leaves would not suffer from a Vitamin A deficiency if several of these items were consumed daily.
Or, if it refuses them, the simple addition of palm oil spread daily, perhaps on a piece of toast, will be even more valuable. The slow decline in the health of many Jardines is due solely to dietary deficiencies, especially that of calcium and Vitamin D3. Calcium levels are almost non-existent in seed, resulting in fits and, often, ultimately death before the age of 20, due to hypocalcaemia (calcium deficiency).
A vet or good quality pet store can supply a calcium additive made for birds. We have many available here. Put this inside a favourite food, such as a grape — not in the water. Note that cuttlefish bone alone is not adequate as calcium cannot be absorbed without Vitamin D3 or exposure to sunlight.
Fruits and vegetables provide some vitamins and minerals — but not in large amounts. These can include pomegranate (a great favourite), mango, sweet orange and Satsumas, cherries, banana, green beans, celery, beetroot, corn on the cob, sweet corn and sweet potato (cooked). Hawthorn berries are an excellent food and can be frozen for use throughout the year.
The sub-species usually seen in the UK is the nominate race (illustrated). The bill is large in proportion to the body size. The black markings on the wings are much heavier and the size is larger, especially the beak. P.g. massaicus has a much reduced area of orange on the forehead and is approximately the same size as the nominate race but the beak is noticeably smaller in proportion.
P.g.fantiensis is the smallest sub-species with more green on the wings than the other two. I cannot recall having seen it in the UK in recent years.
Note that in adult birds excessive mutual preening often results in loss of head feathers. In birds that pluck themselves or are plucked by their mate, green feathers could grow back orange.
Here are products that can help prevent feather plucking.
Young birds are readily distinguished by the greyish iris and much duller plumage. The head is dusky-brown with a greenish tinge and the wing markings are dark grey and less well defined. Orange is lacking from all areas of the plumage. The cere and upper mandible are pinkish-white and the lower mandible and tip of upper mandible are black.
Jardine’s Parrots love to be sprayed. At least twice a week is recommended. Originating from forested areas of high humidity, they need water on their plumage to maintain it and their skin in good condition. In winter, they should not be kept near central heating radiators. Misters are available here.
Suitability as a Pet
Their size (medium — smaller than a Grey Parrot) and their pleasant voices make them more suitable as companions than most Parrots. They are generally better at entertaining themselves and less demanding of human attention. However, they greatly enjoy having their head scratched and some can object strongly when you cease to do so! It must be remembered, however, that their individuality is as great as that of a Grey Parrot, for example.
Find lots of products for Jardines here.