Animal-World > Birds > Parrot Species > Meyer's Parrot

Meyer's Parrot

Brown Parrot

Family: Psittacidae Meyer's Parrot, Poicephalus meyeri, picture of a juvenile Meyers also called the Brown Parrot"Max" a juvenile Meyer's ParrotPoicephalus meyeriPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy Iain Simpson
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We live in Cheltenham (in the west of England) and for four months we have been the proud owners of a Meyers Parrot named Cupcake. He was only five months old... (more)  Geoff. Bland

  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


Geographic Distribution
Poicephalus meyeri
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Data provided by GBIF.org
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Psittaciformes
  • Family: Psittacidae
  • Genus: Poicephalus
  • Species: meyeri

Scientific name

   Poicephalus meyeri

Distribution

   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

Status

   The Poicephalus meyeri is on the IUCN Red List for Endangered Species as Least Concern (LC).

Description

   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.

Care and feeding

  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.

Housing

   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.

Maintenance

   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.

Meyers Parrot"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... .

Shawna

Social Behaviors

   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.

Handling/Training

   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.

Activities

   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.

Sexing - Sexual Differences

   Females look like males, and if gender identification is important (for example for breeding birds) DNA / Feather or surgical sexing is recommended.

Breeding/Reproduction

   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.

Potential Problems

   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
  • listlessness
  • drooping wings
  • sagging body
  • extreme mood changes
  • having no appetite
  • bulges in feathering
  • partially closed or watery eyes
  • swelling of the eyelids
  • rasping
  • 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)
  • allergies
  • chewing flight and tail feathers by juveniles
  • beak malformations in chicks
  • Papillomas
  • kidney disease (gout)
  • toxicity
  • 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.

Availability

   The Meyer's Parrots easily bred in captivity and they are readily available. They are moderately expensive, probably because of their wonderful nature.

References

Author: Clarice Brough CAS, Cheryl Galloway
Lastest Animal Stories on Meyer's Parrot


Geoff. Bland - 2004-07-19
We live in Cheltenham (in the west of England) and for four months we have been the proud owners of a Meyers Parrot named Cupcake. He was only five months old when we bought him and in the short time since then he has learned a great deal. He can imitate the telephone and the sound of the curtains being drawn and he cries pitifully when left alone. However, what particularly amuses us is his behaviour during our meal times. As soon as he sees the table being set he comes to the bars of his cage and chirps at us for food. He loves peas and baked beans and he is particularly fond of toast (which he dunks in his water pot before eating). So far he has not said an intelligible word - but he chats away happily in his own robotic language and clicks his tongue as a greeting each time we come into the room. He enjoys riding around on my shoulder but, when thwarted, he can really bite!

Reply
Ronald&Rhonda - 2014-06-30
Just purchased Sam. He's(?) a 4 month old Meyers. Things moved pretty quick for Sam. He got to the pet store on Friday and we picked him up on Sunday. 2 moves in quick succession. Today is the next day from purchase (Monday) and he started eating and drinking this evening. He has a pretty hard bite! Searching online for tips to break this. From what I see, just training for trust by doing a couple tricks should do it. We're looking forward to a long happy relationship with Sam. He's our first pet bird, so we all have a lot of growing up together.

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kim - 2014-01-27
I just got a 4 month old 'hand-fed' baby from a breeder. The baby is not eating nor drinking and seems absolutely terrified. Just brought home yesterday evening. Meyer is in a cage in my bedroom to have some quiet/acclimation time. Has been held minimally maybe 3x 5min each-tries to fly away in fear. Opened cage while speaking smoothly this morning and flew away in fear. Now, I do have other birds that were bought at an older age. Is this normal for a baby? Does not perch on finger, but will on perch. Is this bird just not socialized?? Normal reaction for a baby? I am very worried about the not eating part. I was hoping for a tamed, hand-fed babe. Can she come around? I know I may sound crazy since I just got her---but she IS TERRIFIED. I fear for the amount of stress she must be feeling. Bird not sexed. Breeder said she seemed like a girl. Please help.

  • Clarice Brough - 2014-01-27
    It is concerning that your bird is not drinking. This baby could very well have been hand-fed, but has probably been weaned for several weeks now. It may be that the breeder was feeding many babies and didn't give this bird much one-on-one time, that  happens with some larger outfits. He may then have been housed with other birds, so no longer is well socializd with humans. Birds always prefer other birds over people.. it's a natural behavior, and so then become cautious with humans. Usually it takes time and patience, offering treats and soft words, and a bird will start responding.

    Not drinking or eating is concerning however. If the bird doesn't start drinking soon, you may try to offer assistance. Try getting some handfeeding formula (Kaytee makes great formula) and offering it.  Take the bird out, put it on a table (or in a large flat box/bin). Hold it from the back with your hand around its body, thumb and forefinger on either side of the head. Then offer a bit of food  with a syringe (a spoon may work too).  Be very gentle and soft-spoken, but try to get it to take a taste. This can help remind it of being a baby, because it's still young enough to remember being fed. It may still refuse, but it's worth a shot. Work on letting it know you are its 'flock' and continue to show you care about it. If it goes too long without drinking or food, taking it to a vet could end up being necessary.
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bill - 2012-09-10
I just got a meyers parrot and he can be a bit nippy at times. He was teased a bit before I got him . What can I do to discourage this.and can you train them to stay on their perch unless I take him off or call him?

  • Charlie Roche - 2012-09-10
    OK   try and figure out 'WHY' hs is nipping?  Moving too fast, not knowing what your action is, afraid etc.  Watch his body language and think about what you are doing. No, you are not MAKING him NIP but possibly something you happen to be doing is scaring him or he thinks you ar going to hurt him and so he nips.  Real easy - just grab ahold of the beak and say 'NO'.  Pull him toward you and hold him and say 'NO'  I had one bird that would bite, and trainer told me if the bird was going to bite yell 'JAIL' to put him in the bathtub with lights out and count to 60.  Took 3 tries but it worked.  I would try holding him, making friends, and just closing his mouth first though.  Yes, you can train him to remain on his perch.  Just when he flies off - put him back on.  Needs toys on perch though.  Then you can trainhim to come when you call - just by holding a treat or a toy - most of the time all you have to do is wave and call his name.  First though, you have to let him get used to his new home with all the voices and sounds and smells.  OK?
  • Zenek - 2012-11-28
    Just a random note/FYI this bird isn't necasserily a plucker. He's missing feathers on his head which can be a sign of a disease like PBFD (the bird can't physically pluck feathers there unless another bird did it to him).He is still a very beautiful and funny bird, and I wish him the best
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