Poicephalus senegalus – Senegal Parrot

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Senegal Parrot - Poicephalus senegalus (Linnaeus, 1766) - are a very beautiful colorful birds. Compared to other parrot species they are not particularly noisy. They are very lively and rarely sit still.  They are very intelligent and able to mimic words and sounds. They are also very gregarious and curious and want to participate in everything the owner do.

Then tend to attach strongly to the owner but can be very nervous and shy to other people. They can also have some mood swings and bite for no obvious reason.

They love to bite and gnaw on stuff with their strong beak and thus require a strong cage or aviary.

Birds born and raised in captivity can become excellent pets, especially hand reared parrots. Adult imported birds are much cheaper to buy but are not likely to become tame and not recommended as pets.

Wild birds have a lifespan of up to 25-30 years but in captivity they can live much longer; with proper care, the lifespan can be 30-50 years.


The head and beak are relatively large compared to the overall size. The head is dark grey with a slightly brighter grey around the cheeks. The back and throat are bright green. The belly and rump are yellow. The wings are green. The tail  is short and broad with a brownish olive-green color. The beak is  dark grey. The adults have yellowish light grey iris. The feet are grey-brown. 

The green and yellow areas on the front form a characteristic V-shape. The yellow color on the belly can vary widely from pure yellow to orange-yellow. 

Senegal parrots are not sexually dimorphic but males are generally (but not always!) a little larger and heavier. The beak of the female is generally slightly smaller and narrower compared to the male. The V-shape typically ends midway down the chest on males but extends longer down the belly on females. Green feathers on the undertail coverts indicates it is a female (or immature juvenile) - the male has yellow undertail coverts.

Juveniles have the same plumage as the adults, but a little more dull colors. Juveniles have dark grey (almost black) iris. 

Length: 23 -25 cm
Weight: 120 - 170 grams


Two subspecies are widely recognized:

  • Poicephalus senegalus senegalus (Linnaeus, 1766) - nominate specie, colors as described above.
  • Poicephalus senegalus versteri  (Finsch, 1863) - The chest has a reddish color.

A thirds proposed subspecie Poicephalus senegalus mesotypus is very similar to the nominate form but the yellow color on the chest is replaced by a deep orange color and the overall plumage more pale. However, IOC and Clements do not recognize P.s. mesotypus as a subspecies, instead those birds are included in the P.s. senegalus subspecies.


The Senegal Parrot live in a wide range in Africa, most common in West Africa.

The subspecies are native in these regions:

  • Poicephalus senegalus senegalus - Gambia and Guinea-Bissau to southern Niger, northern Cameroon, south-western Chad.
  • Poicephalus senegalus versteri - Northwestern Ivory Coast to southwestern Nigeria (south of the range of the nominate subspecies).

They live in open woodland and the edge of the savanna.

They are considered a pest by local farmers.


Wild birds feed on seeds, nuts and grain e.g. millet, maize and peanuts.


The Senegal Parrot is relatively easy to breed. Hand reared birds are very popular as pets.

They reach sexual maturity at 3-4 years, but some do not breed until they are 5-7 years old. Parent reared birds typically breed sooner than hand reared birds.

In some cases the male may be aggressive to the female during the breeding season - the aviary must have a suitable size and refuge for the female.

The nest box should be approx. 20 x 25 cm in the bottom and 45-60 cm high. The hole should be approx. 6.5 cm in diameter.

The clutch consists of 3-4 white eggs. The female incubates the eggs for approx. 27-28 days. The kids first open their eyes after approx. 2-3 weeks and are completely dependent on the mother, who spends most of her time in the nest during the first four weeks. During this time the male brings food to the female and the chicks and he also guards the nest. The juveniles leave the nest approx. 9 weeks after hatching.


  • Order: Psittaciformes
  • Family: Psittacidae
  • Genus: Poicephalus


  • Danish: Senegalpapegøje
  • English: Senegal Parrot, Yellow-bellied Parrot
  • French: Perroquet youyou, Youyou, Youyou du Sénégal
  • German:  Mohrenkopf
  • Portuguese: Periquito-massarongo
  • Spanish:  Lorito Senegalés

IUCN Red List

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Version 2017-3. <www.iucnredlist.org>.
Downloaded on 19 March 2018.