Poicephalus senegalus
by Sally Blanchard
» Range throughout areas of west Africa
» Three subspecies which vary in chest color from yellow to deep orange.
» The nominate species Poicephalus senegalus senegalus with its yellow chest is more common in the United States.
» Populations are undetermined but as with all parrots, habitat destruction and capture for the pet trade may be creating problems. CITES II
» About 9" 

One of the most popular small companion parrots. It is my observation that Senegals can look a little diabolical because of their eye stripe configuration. Maybe not diabolical but at least mischievous or feisty. Many caregivers describe their Senegals as being exceptionally sweet and cuddly. One of the birds that I sat for from time to time was a sweetheart hen Senegal named Jane. If they are all like Jane, I can see why they are so popular. She has received a great deal of gentle handling and affection and it certainly shows in her behavior. 


Some Senegals are quite assertive and caregivers need to establish and maintain nurturing guidance. Some go through a nippy stage but that can be worked out with a patient and knowledgeable caregiver.  Senegals have a contact call who some people find annoying but they are generally quiet parrots who may say several words appropriately but most of all, they like to mimic other household animals and sounds. I have heard people compare them to caiques, perhaps because of the size and similar colors. I don't really see that. Although Senegals are generally active and playful, they aren't the high energy parrot that caiques are.

Wild-caught Senegals were often nervous and took a lot of patience and nurturing to win their trust. Even hand-feds may be wary of abrupt changes. This is particularly true if they have not been properly socialized. Phobic episodes can be brought on by mishandling by vets or groomers, a perceived threat to the cage territory, a certain object that frightens them, or even something that no one can figure out. One Senegal I worked with became terrified after the person who he previously liked greeted him with new, exceptionally long, red acrylic nails. Once the woman stopped taking it personally and slowed down her energy to win her parrot back, things went back to normal fairly quickly. He also needed some time to adjust to the change in her hands and realize that they were still a part of her.




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