The Senegal's moderate voice makes it a good parrot for apartment dwellers. (Nikki, courtesy of Marc Johnson of Foster Parrots.)

The Senegal is the best-known bird in the African Poicephalus family of parrots, which also includes the Jardine's and the Meyer's. It bears the family traits of a small body and pleasant disposition. Though mostly green, the Senegal (Poicephalus senegalus) has a grey head and a golden breast bisected by a green "v-neck", which gives it the appearance of wearing a vest. The tail is short and pointed. The two subspecies, the red-vented parrot (Poicephalus s. versteri) and the orange-bellied parrot (Poicephalus s. mesotypus), vary only slightly in coloring.

Countries of origin: Senegal, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau and Guinea. The red-vented subspecies is found on the Ivory Coast and in Ghana and Nigeria. The orange-bellied parrot also occurs in Nigeria, and Cameroon and Chad.

Size: Small but stout, at 9 inches long and about 140 grams, or 5 ounces.

Personality: Playful and rambunctious with toys, cuddly and a bit bossy. Will menace smaller birds. Rarely noisy voice makes it well-suited to apartment life.

Talking ability: Poor to moderate.

SenegalSenegal saying, "Pretty, pretty bird."
(Thanks to Steve DeGroof.)

Average lifespan: Up to 30 years.

Additional reading:

What owners say:

Peanut has been with me for eight years now. When I received him, he loved his cage and to come out to socialize with me every once in a while. He was handleable by my brother and dad, since his previous owner was a man. That quickly changed, and he grew to like me only, taking CHUNKS out of everyone else. He is very independent and loves his cage to this day. He also refuses to eat outside of his cage. When out, loves to get as high as he can on my shoulders, constantly "dancing" back and forth. Then laughing at me when I tell him to stop. Taunts my cat by dancing in front of her also. Leans out very far off my shoulder to try to bite someone, then laughs at them when they jump away. He is the strangest senegal that I have ever seen. I just aquired an African red belly and she has shown me how independent he really is. She looooves me and he looooves his cage. He still gets excited to jump back in. --Annaleza, Phoenix, Ariz.

AT FIRST, my Senegal was the sweetest, most cuddly bird ever. After about two months, Lexy's personality took a turn for the worst. She screeches non-stop the minute I leave her immediate sight. Whether on her perch or not, the minute she can't see me, she starts and doesn't stop. She's also decided she hates my kids, husband and anyone else that even tries to get near her. The only one person she's nice to is me. I've done the discipline thing like ignoring her when she's loud and putting her back in her cage when she's fiesty, but it's been two months now and it's just getting worse. I read where Senegals are generally quiet, independent and loving birds, but I'm obviously doing something very wrong or she's just an exception to the Senegal personality. --Stephanie Barrett,

I FELL IN LOVE with Zeus immediately and thought she would be the perfect new baby. She was so cuddly and cute. Her first name was the German version of "Sweetie". She had to be a girl, right? Wrong. The vet sent out the blood and our baby girl was a boy. So, we changed Susse to Zeus and it is so fitting. Zeus totally dominates our 17-year-old male white-fronted Amazon, Rocky. Zeus merely has to look at a food item, Rocky goes and fetches it, and beaks it over to Zeus. To make sure Rocky gets his fair share, Zeus stays locked in his cage until I get home. Caging Zeus is a must since he has taught Rocky to wander the house and investigate. Zeus likes to think of these jaunts as a search for new furniture and woodwork to chew up. Recently they have begun to play a game with the colored chew sticks, which they ravage within seconds. One will start chewing and the other swipes it away, takes a few chews and allows the other to swipe it away. So it goes until it's gone, literally in seconds. The boys share their garden room/aviary with Thumbellina, a parrotlet, and Baby, a rescued magna double yellow Amazon. --Doris Cote,

I BROUGHT A BREEDING pair of Senegals named Pierre and Bonnie home September 1997 and by the following July they had two babies, Tango and Pippa. By the fifth of July, their mum decided she had enough of babysitting her own offspring and I became their mama. With our already having seven other different breeds of parrots in the house, these two babies were going to be given to family, but four years later I'm still their doting mama. They still behave like babies, still trying to feed me and following me everywhere. Tango (the male) is the larger of the two and really mischievous whereas Pippa is so gentle and sweet. Both are little birds with huge personalities. Of this writing they are both snuggled up together in their little sleeping bag (a hammock) in the cage they share. --Sue Marshall,

MY 5-YEAR-OLD Senegal is the joy of my life, as well as ruler of the household. Our flock consists of a 22-year-old cockatiel, featured as Mr. May on the 2001 World of Discovery International Calendar; a year-old green cheek conure; and three budgies - English, American and English American split tufted. Bugsie (named after Bugs Bunny because of his passion for carrots) says over 150 words and sentences and knows exactly what he is saying. It gets scary at times, he is so smart. Bugsie calls the other birds by name and says things like, "Samson, stop it! What do you want? What's the matter with you?" when the cockatiel is screaming. I make recordings of him to send to friends in order to help their Senegals talk. It works. His vet, Dr. Brian Speer, says Bugsie is the largest Senegal he has seen, weighing in at a hefty 165 grams, and not an ounce of fat. Bugsie hates being groomed and lets the groomer know it. He screams and hollers as if he is being tortured, then pouts for two days. --Peg Marzo, Concord, Calif.

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