Jardine's Parrot

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Is the Jardine's Parrot right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Red-fronted Parrot, Red-headed Parrot, (Congo) Red-crowned Parrot, Black-wing Jardine’s Parrot (P. g. gulielmi), Greater Jardine’s Parrot (P. g. massaicus), Lesser Jardine’s Parrot (P. g. fantiensis)

Scientific name: Poicephalus gulielmi

The basics:
The Jardine's Parrot may be Africa's answer to the New World's Amazon parrots. These mid-sized green parrots are highly regarded for their relaxed personality, their high intelligence, and their ability to enjoy independent play while still retaining an affectionate bond with their owners. Many birds are vocal enough to learn to mimic funny sounds or even to talk, yet they are not loud screechers or squawkers, so they can make great apartment pets.

This diverse species has three known subspecies and some rumors of a fourth one. P. g. massaicus is a highland subspecies of East Africa, ranging mostly from 1,800 to 3,500 meters. Yet the West African and central African subspecies keep to the lowlands, preferring to range below 700 meters. They seem to be adaptable to an incredible range of habitats and, despite the fact that they have probably been over-collected as pets, they seem to be holding their own in many places in the wild. Their lowland stronghold may be the Congo River Basin, where they have been described as “common.”

There are three subspecies of Jardine's Parrot, with varying amounts of color on their otherwise green heads. The West African subspecies, P. g. fantiensis, sometimes called the Lesser Jardine's Parrot, is a smaller subspecies with a generous orange forehead and forecrown. The nominate subspecies, P. g. gulielmi, also develops extensive color in the forehead and forecrown, but it is orange-red rather than the true orange or (rarely) yellow as seen in the Lesser. The heftier Greater's Jardine Parrot, P. g. massaicus, never develops much color except for a hint of orange-red above the cere.

180 - 300 grams (6.3 - 10.6 oz.)

Average size:
25 - 28 centimeters (10 - 11 in.)

25 - 30 years

Behavior / temperament:
The Jardine's Parrot enjoys a superior reputation as the so-called “African Amazon.” This adaptable bird is capable of independent play and can amuse itself quietly during the day when its owner is at work, so it can make a great apartment pet. Yet they are eager to learn to mimic sounds or to play little tricks. In fact, they think they invented the “playing dead” trick of rolling on their back to give their people a little scare. These practical jokers also frequently enjoy a game of hide and seek. Sometimes you'll be teaching your Jardine's a trick...and sometimes the Jardine's will be playing the trick on you.

However, no Poicephalus, not even Jardine's Parrot, becomes the perfect pet just by magic. Your pet needs to be exposed to different people and different situations from an early age, because an older bird may not be able to adapt or to learn nearly as well, creating a pet that's timid instead of playful. Get your baby Jardine's at a time when you will be able to come home and work with your new pet every day, so that you can get it accustomed to plenty of human handling.

Be aware of the teething stage, and learn how to read your Jardine's Parrot's body language so that you can avoid bites. Don't risk losing your bird's trust by ignoring the signals that it's becoming overloaded. They have the potential to be sweet, easy to handle pets, so if you start having problems, consult a parrot behaviorist to get back on track.

Because it's a bigger bird, Jardine's Parrot needs a larger cage than most of the other popular Poicephalus. A powder-coated metal cage suitable for a small macaw wouldn't be too much, since these birds often play independently for part of the day. Try for a minimum size of 24”w x 24”d x 24”h with no more than 1” bar spacing. It may be a good idea to have a hiding place in the cage, such as a nestbox with one wall left off, so that the bird can climb in and hide when in need of a security blanket. They also like a snug, secure sleep-box. Whatever the cage you choose, it must stand up to a determined beak, because this species loves to chew.

Equip the cage with sturdy manzanita perches in places where you don't want to replace the perches off. Have plenty of toys, both of the disposable chewable kind and the more long-lasting washable acrylic plastic. A Jardine's Parrot will go through a lot of toys and bird-safe chewable tree branches.

Jardine's Parrot has a wonderful reputation, but all birds are individuals, and any Poicephalus can become very territorial and aggressive if not properly managed. You don't want this bird to become cage-bound, so invest in a good play gym. Teach your pet to step up on a hand-held perch on command, so that you can easily move the bird from the cage, without provoking a territorial bite.

The Jardine's Parrot, like all Poicephalus may be at risk for calcium deficiencies, unless they are exposed to natural sunlight or full spectrum light, since the vitamin D created by light helps their bodies use the calcium. A seed-based diet may not work for an indoor bird because it may not be able to properly digest dietary calcium without being exposed to the hours of sunlight it would get in Africa. Therefore, many experts strongly recommend a pellet-based diet formulated for the African parrots.

However, these intelligent birds should not be allowed to get bored on an all pellet diet. One good diet might be approximately half pellets and half a chopped salad with plenty of mixed fruits and vegetables. A few seeds and nuts can be added for variety, but be aware that the Jardine's Parrot has a well-known tendency to gain too much weight. You could hold out the nuts or sunflower seed as part of bonding or trick training In that way, you know exactly how much seed or how many nuts your bird is eating – and the bird associates you with a tasty treat.

Include plenty of dark green and dark orange or yellow vegetables in the Jardine's Parrot's chopped salad, as an additional source of healthy vitamin A. Keep a bag of clean, washed baby carrots on hand to offer as treats. However, never feed avocado or chocolate, since these foods are toxic to all parrots.

Written by Elaine Radford


quiet companion, vocal ability, coolest little guy, cuddly, good apartment birds, excellent mimics


firm boundaries, big beaks, lifelong battle, chew toys, expensive little birds


complex personality, independent midsized parrot, positive reinforcement training, smoke alarm

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