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The Meyer’s Parrot, or Brown Parrot, is a small parrot that is very attractive and entertaining!
Among the African parrots, the Meyer’s Parrot Poicephalus meyeri is definitely an attractive bird. When in flight it seems as if the sunshine reflects on all their colors. They look like various gemstones found in Africa. The light reflecting off their turquoise feathers will remind you of an exquisitely cut blue sapphire. This small parrot is also known as the Brown Parrot.
The Meyers is a calm and even bird by nature and is an excellent choice for a family with children. These small parrots adapt well and are not intimidating. They enjoy all their humans and will maintain relationships with all the members of the family. These are sweet birds, not shy or timid, but curious. They tend to like all people, even strangers. Many birds say “you must love me” but the little Meyers says “I’ll always love you.”
Meyers are pleasant be around, pretty to look at, and fun to watch. This is a “go with the flow” parrot that is easy to have and be around. They enjoy interactive and foraging toys, and like anything that is a puzzle. They are very playful and their antics will make you laugh. They can figure out how to dangle from anything and will hang upside down. They frequently lie upside down and play with their feet. If you give them a hand held toy they will use it as a juggler would use a ball. This is quite funny and being natural comics, they enjoy your laughter.
The noises of the Meyer’s Parrot are little, and that makes them a great apartment or condo bird. Their calls are musical and enjoyable to hear. It is said by many that their vocalizations are quite mesmerizing. Meyers do learn to say a few words and some have developed a pretty good vocabulary. They are expressive in their antics and their calls. So you will learn to understand their language, and there won’t be a noise problem.
The Meyer’s Parrot enjoys the attention of its humans, but is quite content playing with his toys. Because they have a more independent nature, they don’t require as much affection or attention as some of their African Counterparts. There is less mess, destruction, noise, and demand associated with having these comical small parrots, making them great for pets.
To learn more about parrot care, see:
Bird Care: How to Take Care of a Pet Bird
The Meyer’s Parrot or Brown Parrot Poicephalus meyeri was first described by Cretzschmar in 1827. It is widely distributed throughout Central and East Africa. It inhabits most of the timbered country including the savannah woodlands. There are six subspecies of Meyer’s:
- Subspecies: Poicephalus meyeri meyeri – Meyers Parrot
- Subspecies: Poicephalus meyeri reichenowi – Angola Brown Parrots
- Subspecies: Poicephalus meyeri damarensis – Damaraland Brown Parrots
- Subspecies: Poicephalus meyeri matchiei – East African Brown Parrots
- Subspecies: Poicephalus meyeri transvaalensis – South African Brown Parrots
- Subspecies: Poicephalus meyeri saturatus – Uganda Yellow-shouldered, Kenya Meyers
The Poicephalus meyeri is on the IUCN Red List for Endangered Species as Least Concern (LC).
The plumage of the Meyer’s Parrot or Brown Parrot is mostly brownish-grey with yellow patches on the bend of the wings and thighs and depending on the subspecies also on the head. Their abdomen is green or a vivid blue or turquoise and the rump can be blue or turquoise. The upper side of the tail is brown and the underside is dark gray. Their feet are dark gray. The eye (periophthalmic) rings are black and the bill is black.
This is a small and stocky African parrot, averaging 8 – 10 inches (21 – 25 cm) in length. Their wing length is about 5.5 to 6 inches (141 – 149 cm). They weigh about 3.5-4.7 ounces or 100-135g
There are six subspecies of Meyer’s with varying degrees of yellow coloration on the crown and wings, with some types even having none. All have a grayish brown upper body with a bluish green chest, with green under-parts and blue on the topside of the rump. While these birds may appear drab at first glance, their colors upon closer inspection are astounding and beautiful, especially the chest and rump which have a lovely iridescence. Eyes in the mature birds are orange-red, with a grayish black beak.
Unfortunately, captive birds are often impossible to classify as they are commonly interbred. One major reason being the unavailability of a true and unrelated species mate, as well as a lack of understanding of the different sub-species. In order to preserve the sub-species, it is hoped that breeders make an attempt at matching up same-species birds. Meyer’s Parrot is related to another popular African Parrot, the Senegal Parrot Poicephalus senegalus.
In the wild the Meyer’s parrot eats a variety of seeds, nuts, vegetation, and wild berries. They have been known to destroy seed crops.
For your pet, name brand staple seed mixes are available at your local pet store or super market. These contain a mixture of canary grass seed, white millet, yellow millet, oats and groats and red millet, niger seed and linseed. Some higher quality seed mixtures come with thistle, anise, rape, sesame, and safflower seed. Vitamin pellets with iodine in them are sometimes present to prevent thyroid problems. Pellet mixes are also available. Store seed in a dark but airy place. Don’t use plastic bags, cloth bags work better.
Additionally, remember your Meyers can eat anything nutritious that you eat. Offer fresh foods such as eggplant, green peas, cucumber, young dandelion greens, sweet corn, beet greens, carrots, unsprayed lettuce, green peppers, sorrel, spinach leaves, tomatoes and zucchini. Fruits that are suitable are: Pineapples, apples, apricots, bananas, most other fruits.
These little guys are prone to gain weight so leafy vegetables and fruit are very good for him. Additionally a little meat for protein and a cuttle bone for calcium should be used. Avocado and chocolate are considered toxic for birds and sugar and salt should be avoided.
The Meyers enjoy their baths and whether you use the sprayer on the kitchen sink or a commercial bird bath, they should be bathed frequently. Otherwise their feathers will dry out and they will itch which can lead to feather destruction.
Provide a roomy cage with the minimum dimensions of: 20″ long x 20″ deep x 24″ high. The ideal size is: 40″ long x 20″ deep x 32″ high. Preferably a cage with horizontal bars to make climbing easier. A cage with a play pen top is good for these little guys as they do enjoy independent play and their own territory. A perch hanging from the ceiling on top is also great added bonus for these fellows.
Place two or three different diameter branches in their cage for perches. A concrete perch as the top perch in the cage will prevent their nails and beak from becoming overgrown. One problem with the Meyers is their beak does have a tendency to overgrow and a concrete perch that they can file their own beak on or chew on will eliminate that problem. A swing, foot toys as well as chewy wood toys should be provided to keep them entertained.
The basic cage care includes daily cleaning of the water and food dishes. Weekly you should wash all the perches and dirty toys, and the floor should be washed about every other week. A total hosing down and disinfecting of an aviary should be done yearly, replacing anything that needs to be freshened, such as old dishes, toys and perches.
“Draven” Photo courtesy: Shawna Ellis
“Draven is a rather quiet bird, never screaming but
finding other ways in which to get treats and attention.
He is very clever! He makes strong associations with
household noises which he mimics, such as beeping
like the microwave, or squeaking like the front door
when you put on your shoes to go out. While he doesn’t
talk very clearly, he knows a few words and often
chatters to himself … He does not enjoy cuddling as do
some parrots, but is still very pleasant company
and a fun pet even if he can be aloof at times… .
In the wild, the Meyers Parrot is generally seen singly or in pairs although there are frequently in larger parties of 10 – 20 when food is plentiful. Being seen singly may account for their more independent nature in captivity. They entertain themselves quite well alone.
Meyers Parrots like all humans and are a great family pet. Their little noises are considered soothing. They are not as dependent on their humans for entertainment as most parrots and therefore not as demanding.
You should give a new arrival a few days to get use to you, your voice and its cage before trying to handle it. A hand fed baby will not need much taming and can often be handled right away, but be patient and go slow. Allow them to hear your voice, get the scent of you.
Remember that taming and training a bird takes patience, never ‘punish’ your pet! This only serves to destroy the trust you’ve spent so much time building. For more information on training your parrot, see Parrots: Handling/Training.
The Meyers is quite content to play with his toys. They love handheld toys, except they will usually lie on their backs and play with them with their feet. They love hanging, swinging and climbing. They need wooden toys to chew on and welcome new things to play with.
Females look like males, and if gender identification is important (for example for breeding birds) DNA / Feather or surgical sexing is recommended.
In the wild breeding takes place toward the end of the rainy season which occurs in the fall in Africa. Meyer’s Parrots nest in a hollow tree at a considerable height from the ground. The clutch comprises two or three eggs, each being laid at two day intervals. Both parents will incubate the eggs with only one leaving the nest at a time for food. The chicks will fledge approximately nine weeks after hatching.
Meyer’s Parrots are ready to breed when they are about 3 to 4 years old and breed quite readily in captivity. Breeding season in the United States starts around March and goes through June. If they are to be bred in captivity they should be provided a spacious aviary with non-toxic leafy branches for perching and entertaining. Chewing these branches will minimize boredom and give the birds some beak exercise. There is no reason not to put toys in their aviary.
Some breeders have reported success with a nest box of the following dimensions: 18 inches high and 8 to 10 inches square. If space allows, offering a choice of sizes and types of logs or nest-boxes placed in various locations within the aviary will allow the parents to make their own choice. Suitable nest-box litter would be decomposed non-toxic saw dust, wood shavings, peat mixture, or other suitable materials.
A Meyer’s Parrot that is well cared for will seldom become ill. Though it is often difficult to determine illness, some visible signs of illness to be aware of are:
- ruffled plumage
- drooping wings
- sagging body
- extreme mood changes
- having no appetite
- bulges in feathering
- partially closed or watery eyes
- swelling of the eyelids
- difficulty breathing
- excessive saliva
- dirty vent
- any change in the feces not apparently diet related.
Some of the more common illnesses are:
- Psittacosis (chlamydiosis or parrot fever)
- bacterial, viral, or fungal infections
- feather picking (results of boredom, poor diet, sexual frustration, lack of bathing)
- chewing flight and tail feathers by juveniles
- beak malformations in chicks
- kidney disease (gout)
- heavy metal poisoning
- lipomas in older birds.
If you notice any of this bird illnesses in your Meyers, immediately provide a warm, draft free, secure environment kept at about 86°F (30°C). Place food and water close to the perch where it is easily accessible. An ailing parrot should be taken to a avian veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment.
The Meyer’s Parrots easily bred in captivity and they are readily available. They are moderately expensive, probably because of their wonderful nature.