Senegal Parrot (Complete Specie Profile)

Last Updated on December 11, 2023 by Ali Shahid

The Senegal parrot (Poicephalus senegalus) is a medium-sized parrot that breeds as a resident bird throughout western Africa. The species is part of the Poicephalus genus, which was introduced by William John Swainson in 1837.

As a relatively small and colorful parrot, Senegal is remarkably calm and peaceful. While it is not the most prolific talker, it is capable of speaking and mimicking. An affectionate and fun-loving nature is evident in its playful and comical antics.

Senegal parrots look intense thanks to their yellow irises and blocky heads. However, you should not take its gaze as a sign of stress. The Senegal parrot is one of the most popular species of Poicephalus, as it is outgoing and playful.

It’s also cheaper than most tropical birds and easier to get in pet stores than most parrots. If they’re handfed, this species makes a great pet. Normally, they nest in cavities, and they’re easy to breed.

It migrates within west Africa, relying on fruits, seeds, and blossoms to supplement its diet. In Africa, it is regarded as a pest on farms, feeding primarily on maize and millet. Continue reading to learn more about Senegal parrots.

Origin and History of Senegal Parrot

Senegal parrots are found throughout a wide range of woodland habitats in central western Africa. They are members of the Poicephalus genus, which is made up of 10 species of parrots in Central Africa.

Senegal parrots have large heads, beaks, short tails, and stocky bodies. To survive in the wild, these birds need to migrate frequently to find native fruits, seeds, and plants in their range. 

Although the Senegal Parrot is located in a remote region of west-central Africa, naturalists were able to identify and describe it in the mid-1700s. Outside of the mating season, they gather in small flocks.

As they consume a variety of foods, their care is simple. However, due to their adaptability, they have also become a pest in agriculture. It is one of the factors contributing to their decline.

According to the IUCN, the Senegal Parrot is one of the least threatened species. However, illegal pet trade in these birds leads to international trade controls and EU import bans.

Due to its pleasant nature, the parrot has become a target, and this has had a detrimental impact on the wild population’s stability.

Physical Appearance

Approximately 23 centimeters (9.1 inches) long and weighing 120 to 170 grams, the Senegal parrot is a small bird. For their overall size, they have a relatively large head and beak, and a tail made up of feathers that form a short, broad shape.

In adults, the head and beak are charcoal gray, the iris is bright yellow, the back and throat are green, and the underparts and rump are yellow.

A Senegal parrot’s front has a V-shaped pattern made up of yellow and green areas that resemble a yellow vest worn over a green one. In juveniles, the iris begins as a dark gray, almost black color, but then changes to a light gray color as they grow.

2 Subspecies of Senegal Parrots

A Senegal parrot can be classified into two subspecies:

Poicephalus senegalus: A species of senegalus characterized by a distinctive yellow chest vest 

P. s. versteri: A species of senegalus characterized by a deep orange chest vest. 

Male Senegal parrots and their female counterparts are monomorphic, which means they are the same species. So, to distinguish between genders, sexing procedures or DNA tests are required.

However, the following hypotheses can provide some insight into the gender of adult birds:

  • In females, the V-shaped vest usually has a longer length. Females have a green area that extends between their legs, while males have a green area that ends mid-chest.
  • Females have a smaller and narrower beak and head than males.
  • Generally, the under-tail covert feathers are yellow in males and green in females.
  • Generally, male birds are larger and heavier than females, but this is not always the case.

Senegal Parrot Temperament

A Senegal parrot is a funny, entertaining, cuddly, and affectionate pet that likes to sit on humans’ shoulders. The Hand-fed Senegal makes an excellent pet and is well known for its comical and entertaining nature.

Although they aren’t as popular as African grays and cockatiels, they are easygoing, playful, and can learn some words as well! There is no need for another Senegal to keep them amused since they tend to become very attached to “their” humans

However, Senegals may exhibit a “one person” nature and may not allow other family members to interact with them aside from their favorite person. 

Even if it’s not always the case, each family member should spend time and interact with them so that one-to-one bonding does not take place. A Senegal Parrot can live over 30 years, making it a good pet for intermediate bird owners.

In addition, you should be aware that Senegal parrots are sometimes aggressive. Consequently, they are not suitable as pets for families with young children.

Senegals are relatively easy to breed, so you should check the local paper for breeders in your area to see which clutch you prefer.

Speech & Vocalization

While Senegal parrots are not particularly chatty, some have developed a wide vocabulary with several dozen words. Although Senegals are able to talk and mimic, they are generally quieter than most other parrots.

They do not scream, but rather whistle and cluck instead. It is unlikely that you will encounter any problems with your neighbors if you own a Senegal. 


The breeding season for Senegal parrots happens between September and November, at the end of the African rainy season. 

Typically, nests are found in hollow trees situated at a considerable distance from the ground. In general, Sennies mature after four years; others will not breed until they are 6 or 7 years old. 

Typically, Senegal females lay three to four eggs, which hatch between seven and 28 days after laying them. As with other birds, it is the responsibility of the female to incubate the eggs. 

Despite their ease of breeding in captivity, these birds need a spacious aviary with leafy branches so they can perch. 

Furthermore, these branches may allow them to relieve boredom and exercise their beaks. So, it is necessary to ensure that they are not toxic. 

How to Care for a Senegal Parrot

It is not necessary to have a large cage for a Senegal parrot due to its smaller size. Ideally, it should have a cage that measures 20 inches by 20 inches and 28 inches; however, a larger cage is always preferable.

In the case of two birds, a larger cage is necessary. Their medium size dictates a bar spacing of approximately 3/4 inch.

Assemble the cage with a number of horizontal bars that will serve as perches. Additionally, potential bird owners should consider investing in a variety of toys and accessories.

A Senegal’s beak can be very strong, so you should provide them with toys that will allow them to exercise their teeth. Senegal parrots bond closely with their owners and love daily contact.

In order to own a Senegal, the owner should be willing to devote adequate time to handling and socializing with the bird on a daily basis. In general, these birds are quite content to sit on your shoulders, which allows you more time to spend with them.

Senegal Parrot Diet and Nutrition

According to Texas State University research, parrots in southeastern Senegal consume approximately 77% of fruit, primarily figs, African grapes, and shea fruits. A total of 22% of the diet consisted of seeds, with the remaining 1% consisting of flowers.

The Senegal parrot in the wild consumes primarily fruit, seeds, and blossoms. The captive Senegal parrot diet should include fresh fruits and vegetables, and healthy seeds like flax, hemp, chia seeds, nuts, and pellets.

Generally, a Senegal parrot should eat 1/4 cup of mix food each day. Every morning, provide a seed/pellet mixture formulated to meet the needs of birds. Ensure that pellet food is supplemented with fruits and vegetables.

You can try making chops, which is a frozen diet that can be prepared and consumed immediately. You can provide your Senegal with a variety of vegetables, grains, and vegetable proteins through this easy and convenient method.

It is highly recommended that you provide fresh water to your companion bird daily in a clean bowl. It is not advisable to feed an all-seed diet, as it can lead to nutritional illness and even death.

Health Problems

Aspergillosis, a common fungus disease prevalent in birds, poses the greatest threat to Senegals and other Poicephalus parrots. To reduce the likelihood of this infection, ensure that the cage is clean and that a balanced diet is provided.

Also, ensure that there is adequate ventilation, particularly if the climate is warm and humid. A Senegal parrot may also succumb to Bornavirus infection. Observe for weight loss and a poor digestive system.

In most cases, this disease is transmitted via infected birds, and symptoms may not appear for several years. The disease is not treatable.

The owner of a Senegal parrot should take care not to allow other birds to come in contact with the parrot until it has been carefully quarantined.

Diets high in seeds and low in fresh fruit and vegetables can contribute to obesity in Senegal parrots.


Typically, when we refer to exercise, we are referring to activities that take place outside the cage. This could include playing and training. Both of these activities will be beneficial to the mental health of the individual.

You should discuss the possibility of wing-clipping with your veterinarian. In both directions, there are valid arguments, such as the need to avoid flights into windows.

The good news is that it is something you can do with the assistance of your veterinarian. It would be irresponsible of us not to warn you about chewing. Not only do Senegal parrots chew on furniture, but other species do as well.

In terms of animal welfare, beak trimming isn’t always the right thing to do. During outdoor play, it is recommended that you supervise your parrot.

Senegal Parrots’ Predators and Threats

The African Senegal is attacked by a wide range of wildlife in the wild, including raptors, snakes, monkeys, and giant cats. Furthermore, habitat loss, poaching, and excessive hunting pose a threat to their existence. 

The Senegal parrots are considered pests by many farmers since they tend to steal their food from them. Therefore, humans are their archenemy.

Conservation Status of the Senegal Parrot

According to the IUCN Red List, the population of Senegal Parrots is decreasing due to illegal trade. 

However, due to the Senegal Parrot’s extensive range, it is difficult to estimate the number of these birds in the wild. Although the Wild Bird Conservation Act prohibits the trade in wild birds, many are trapped in it. So are Senegal parrots endangered? Not yet.

According to the ICN, there is no significant decline in the Senegalese parrot in the country, which is why it has been classified as “Least Concern ”. 

Senegal Parrot Lifespan

Senegal parrots live an average of 20 to 30 years. However, those who have been cared for in an immaculate manner can have a lifespan of up to 50 years. 

This is good news for those who are hoping to maintain feathery companionship for the rest of their lives. However, it requires a lifetime commitment as well. 

However, there are a few health problems that could shorten their lives; we talked about that earlier.

From Where You can Get a Senegal Parrot

Try to schedule an appointment to visit a parrot rescue or adoption and education foundation if you are considering adopting a Senegal parrot. Your search may lead you to an excellent match with a bird in need of a new home.

In general, Senegal parrots are easygoing and less likely to be abandoned. However, unforeseen circumstances may result in birds losing their homes. Depending on the breeder, Senegal parrots cost an average of $800 to $1,500.

Some online breeders, rescue organizations, and adoption organizations that sell Senegal parrots include: Bird Breeders, Adopt a Pet, and Ginger’s Parrot.

Choosing a Senegal Parrot

Seek out an active, bright, and alert bird. If you see a bird sitting quietly with puffed feathers, it is important not to approach it, as the bird may be ill. Ideally, birds should have smooth feathers that lie flat against their bodies.

There should be no debris or feces present in the feathers around the vent/cloaca. Smooth scales should be present on the feet. The beak of the bird should be smooth and well-shaped, and its nails should be in good condition. It should have clean and clear nostrils.


Having the right home for a Senegal Parrot can be a delightful experience. If you provide this bird with the time and attention it desires, it will make an excellent companion.

Due to its long lifespan, it is also important to realize that purchasing this parrot is a long-term investment.

Be aware that owning a pet is not a right. It is an honor to have an avian companion in your home. Those who understand the needs of the Senegal Parrot will be able to enjoy all the benefits it has to offer.


Taylor, Isabel. “Poicephalus Parrots: Senegals and Their Relatives.” AFA Watchbird 20.3 (1993): 27-31.


  • Ali Shahid

    Ali Shahid is a veterinarian by profession and an animal lover. He loves to give expert opinions about different animals. He has worked in top organization of birds like Bigbird Feed and Poultry Research institute. He loves birds, especially parrots and has great experience in different parrot farms.

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