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Choosing a Meyers Parrot

By: Dr. Susan Clubb

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Meyers parrots (Poicephalus meyeri) are playful outgoing birds. They can be affectionate and love attention, but are not generally demanding. They have a large range in central, eastern and southern Africa. In the wild, they live in lowland forests and dry savannas and are generally found in pairs or small groups sometimes near urban areas.

There are six subspecies, however they have not been kept distinct in captivity and hybrids have likely occurred.

Meyers parrots possibly live up to approximately 30 years but more likely approximately 15 to 20 years.

Appearance and Personality

Meyers parrots are small stocky parrots, one of the smallest Poicephalus. They are the only African parrot with extensive blue-green underparts and a blue rump with grey head, neck and wings. They have variable yellow markings on the head, bend of the wing and under-wing coverts and legs.

Meyers tend to become more independent as they reach sexual maturity and adult males may become aggressive during breeding season. While they are not great talkers, they have some limited mimicking ability.

Young 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.

Meyers are very playful and energetic. Environmental enrichment is important. They should always be provided with toys, wooden blocks that can be chewed and branches from non-toxic trees. In order to ensure safety, companion birds should not be allowed unsupervised freedom in the home as they often encounter toxins or dangerous items. Young birds should be socialized to many people and exposed to a variety of situations such as new cages, toys, visits to the veterinarian, handling by friends, wing and nail clips, to avoid fear of novel situations.

Feeding

Meyers parrots, as well as African greys, appear to utilize calcium differently than other psittacine species. Birds kept as indoor pets especially tend to develop signs of calcium deficiency that can be a serious health threat. Natural or full spectrum light may also be helpful. African parrots should be fed a formulated (pelleted or extruded) diet as a basis for good nutrition. Meyers should be fed approximately 1 heaping tablespoon of pellets daily. The diet should be supplemented with approximately 1 heaping tablespoon fresh fruits and vegetables daily to add variety and psychological enrichment. Treats may be given in small amounts especially as rewards for good behavior. Fresh clean water must be provided every day. Vitamin supplements are not needed for birds that are eating a formulated diet.

Poicephalus are very difficult to hand-rear from the egg and if possible should initially be fed by the parents, or they must be fed very often. They will fledge or wean at approximately 7 to 9 weeks.

Grooming

Routine bathing or showering is vital to maintaining good plumage and skin condition. Birds can be misted and allowed to dry in a warm room or in the sun, or dried with a blow drier. Care should be taken not to clip the wing feathers excessively as heavy bodied birds may fall and injure themselves. Clip only enough so the bird will glide to the floor.

Housing

African parrots are very active and should be provided with as large a cage as possible. Cage size should be at least 4 feet by 4 feet by 4 feet or 3 feet by 3 feet by 6 feet. The cage should have two perches so the birds can move between them. Toys and activities should be provided. Ideally pet birds should have a cage outdoors to allow exposure to sunlight and fresh air in good weather.

Breeding

Meyers parrots breed well in captivity. Some prolific birds will breed year round but most breed in the winter and early spring. Clutch size is usually 3 to 4 eggs.

Meyers will use a vertical nest box 10 inches by 10 inches by 12 inches or an L shaped box.

Common Diseases and Disorders

Meyers parrots are relatively healthy birds but are susceptible to the following:

  • Chlamydiosis (Psittacosis)
  • Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease
  • Feather picking
  • Respiratory Diseases- Aspergillosis
  • Bacterial, viral, Fungal Diseases
  • Calcium deficiency disorder
  • Toxicities

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