Adult length 20-22cm.
Adult weight about 120g (nearly 9in). The small size appeals to people who do not have space in the home for a large Parrot.
Suitability as a pet
It is never advisable to generalise about the qualities of a particular species. I have two friends who keep a Meyer’s Parrot in the home. One is a male -- the most adorable, friendly and affectionate little Parrot imaginable.
The other is a female, now about ten years old. Members of her household often refer to her as “the Rottweiler”. She will fly at and attack certain members of this totally Parrot-besotted family. She has never known any ill treatment. “She needs someone to hate” says the lady of the family. The Meyer’s allegiance to her husband has never faltered but the object of her hatred changed almost overnight from her daughter to herself.
I suspect that males normally have a much better temperament and therefore make better companions.
I have noticed that those people who praise to the skies the qualities of their companion Poicephalus have no other pet birds and are able to devote a lot of time to it. This is the key.
If you own a Meyer's Parrot, please click here for everything you need.
Status in wild Common throughout much of its wide range.
Origin Central, eastern and southern Africa.
Potential lifespan about 35 years.
Young birds are easily distinguished by the darker eyes and the less well defined plumage. Both features give it a more gentle look than an adult. The yellow markings are missing, except on the bend of the wing, so the plumage is mainly grey, although the rump is blue-green.
Not until the age of one year is adult plumage acquired. My advice to a potential owner would be to buy a young bird -- and only from the breeder. This means the bird’s age is known.
If the young have been DNA sexed and both sexes are available, chose a male. Two females should never be kept together. A friend bought two young Meyer’s Parrots. She did not know both were females and when they matured one killed the other. Females have more dominant personalities and do not readily tolerate their own sex.
Availability Fairly readily available.
Sub-species Six sub-species are recognised. They vary in the colour of the crown, either brown or yellow, in the depth of the shade of brown and in the depth of blue on the rump. Most captive stocks are not pure because the same sub-species have not always been recognised and paired together. Sexual dimorphism does not exist but different sub-species have been sold as pairs in the mistaken belief that the male had yellow on the crown.
Breeding African Parrots usually lay in what is the depth of our winter, despite the short hours of daylight. The nest-box and area where the birds are fed should be inside a building so that the day length can be increased with the use of electric lighting.
Meyer’s are hardy birds under normal circumstances -- but if they are allowed to nest in an outdoor flight, hand-rearing of the chicks will probably be necessary to prevent them dying in cold weather. Otherwise young remain about nine weeks in the nest. The three or four eggs are incubated for about 27 days.
Purchasers of hand-reared young should ask for a hatch certificate and ensure that the young one is fully weaned. This should occur at about the age of 12 or 13 weeks. Unfortunately, some breeders sell young before then because hand-rearing is so time-consuming. It is a myth that the new owner needs to hand-rear a young Parrot in order to bond with it.
However, even fully weaned young are likely to suffer weaning regression when removed to a new location, so different from anything they have known before. So the seller should provide some hand-rearing food and instructions to ensure a good start in the young Parrot’s new home. I labour this point -- which applies to all species -- because behavioural problems in hand-reared Parrots can commence very early due to forced-weaning.
Diet If introduced to variety at an early age, Meyer's will eat a wide range of items. The following can be offered: a Parakeet mixture, with soaked or sprouted sunflower seed (white or striped) offered separately.
A pelleted diet can be fed instead of seed, as most Meyer's readily accept this. Fruit should form about 30% of the diet, especially pomegranates, grapes and orange.
Vegetables are relished, notably green beans, green peas, carrot (par-boiled), celery, fresh corn and thawed frozen sweet corn. For breeding birds cooked beans and pulses and boiled maize are valuable.
As a treat, warm, cooked pasta, cubes of hard cheese and dry or semi-sweet biscuits can be given, also a cooked chicken bone with no sharp surfaces. In autumn, berries of hawthorn will be relished.
In 2004 the Meyer’s Parrot Project commenced, to research its biology and conservation. The project researchers, from the Research Centre for African Parrot Conservation (University of KwaZulu-Natal), found that fledglings were fed by adults for several months after leaving the nest.
This is the case with most Parrots, as they need soft foods for months after they fledge. Unfortunately, in captivity this important point is often overlooked with serious consequences for the young bird. It should not be expected to eat hard seed as the major part of the diet.
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