Animal-World > Birds > Parrot Species > Senegal Parrot

Senegal Parrot

Yellow-Vented Parrot

Family: Psittacidae Senegal Parrot Picture, Poicephalus senegalus, also known as Yellow-vented Parrot"Clover"Poicephalus senegalusPhoto Courtesy: Darwin Wagner
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Alas, fellow Senegal lovers it seems we are destined to try to please what can be a very moody bird species. I have two Sengal parrots. Scooter, the male, is 20... (more)  Gabby

   Senegal Parrots are known for their acrobatics, their mischievousness, and their passion!

   The Senegal Parrot Poicephalus senegalus, also known as the Yellow-vented Parrot, is a charming and very trainable small parrot. They have the big bird personality in a little bird body. Being cuddly and adapting easily to their environment, they make endearing pets. Senegals are great sources of companionship and amusement for their owners.

   The Senegal is an interesting bird that likes routine and becomes accustomed to the habits of its owners. Plan on spending an hour or so a day in some type of interaction with this little guy as he is a social creature. Whether that is in front of the TV or at meals, it makes no difference. Senegals can frequently become very attached to their human mate and have been known to become quite possessive and jealous. In order to avoid this, early socialization with all members of the home is required.

   Senegal Parrots are probably the most popular of the Poicephalus parrots, which includes the Meyer's Parrot, Red-bellied Parrot, and Jardine's parrots. They are also much quieter birds than many of the smaller, more colorful and popular parrots, like the Conures in the Aratinga genus. For this reason they make ideal pets for apartment or condominium living or just for the owner who prefers more peace.

  Senegal Parrots learn human speech quite easily. Their voices are softer and gentler than their larger African cousins like the African Grey. They usually acquire a moderate vocabulary although some can have a more extensive list of words and phrases. Most will develop an understanding of several common phrases like "step up". Of course the best way to teach a parrot to talk is to talk to your parrot.

To learn more about parrot care, see:
Bird Care: How to Take Care of a Pet Bird

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

Scientific name

   Poicephalus senegalus


  The Senegal Parrot or Yellow-vented Parrot Poicephalus senegalus was first described by Linnaeus in 1766. They can be found across a wide range of West Africa. They migrate within West Africa based on availability of food which consists of fruits, seeds and blossoms. They will raid ripening millet and maize crops, attack harvested peanuts and they love figs. They are highly social and live in flocks. There are three subspecies of Senegal:

  • Subspecies: Poicephalus senegalus senegalus - Senegal Parrot (the nominate subspecies)
  • Subspecies: Poicephalus senegalus mesotypus - Orange-Bellied Senegal Parrot
  • Subspecies: Poicephalus senegalus versteri - Senegal Parrot Versteri


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


   For its size, the Senegal Parrot or Yellow-vented Parrot, appears to have a large beak and head. The head is gray and it has a mostly green body. The breast and belly ranges in color from lime-yellow to deep orange. The body markings form a "V" with a green point running down the breast bone. Under the wing and under the tail, you will see a bright yellow. Juvenile birds have dark brown eyes, while the adult eye color ranges from silvery yellow to orange. The bill is gray and the legs are a brownish color.

  Senegal Parrots are about 9 inches in length (23 cm) and weigh between 120 and 170 grams (4.2 – 6.0 ounces). Their life span in the wild is 25 – 30 years. In captivity, they have been known to live as long as 50 years.

   There are three subspecies of this parrot and although they do not differ in behaviors, they do differ in the coloring of their vest.

  • Poicephalus s. senegalus (the nominate subspecies) has a yellow vest.
  • Poicephalus s. mesotypus has an orange vest.
  • Poicephalus s. versteri has a deep-orange/red vest.

Care and feeding

   In the wild the Senegal parrots eat seeds, nuts, berries and fruit. They love millet, corn and figs. For your pet, ready made name brand seed mixes are usually 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, your Senegal 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. Don't feed your bird chocolate or avocados. These foods have been implicated in the death of many birds and should not be fed to Senegals.


   Provide a roomy cage with the minimum dimensions of 2 feet by 2 feet and 3 feet high. These little guys do not do well in a closed in space. They need room and they need toys. They enjoy playing and climbing. A cage with horizontal bars about 3/4 inches apart makes climbing easier. It has been observed that wooden toys are favorites of Senegal's. Wooden ladders, chew toys, and wooden hanging toys seem to be preferred, most anything made of wood.

   You can also attach a perch/play area on top of the cage. In the cage have about three perches of different diameters (or branches with some angling) without the sandpaper guards. Swings are a favorite and bells along with plenty of chew toys. 


   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.

Social Behaviors

   In the wild, the Senegal Parrot is generally seen singly or in pairs although there are frequently in larger parties of 10 – 20 when food is plentiful. They are a gregarious species and constantly chatter to each other with a range of whistles and calls. They migrate in large flocks to take advantage of ripening crops of millet and maize or other food sources. They are not aggressive unless you would say the male is aggressive during breeding season when he is protecting his mate and chicks from predators. Normally, they just get along with everyone.


   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 Senegal is quite content to play with his toys. They love playing and climbing. They need wooden toys to chew on and welcome new things to play with.

Sexing - Sexual Differences

   Many breeders can accurately determine the sex of these parrots by sight and behavior. However, they have a lot of experience and usually a lot of birds. It is said the male is slightly larger and heavier and it is said the male is a little bolder. The only accurate way to determine if you have a male or female is through DNA sexing.


   In the wild breeding takes place toward the end of the rainy season which occurs in the fall from September to November in Africa. Senegal Parrots nest in a hollow tree at a considerable height from the ground. The female lays 3 – 4 eggs and the female incubates the eggs starting after the second egg is laid. They hatch out approximately 27 – 28 days later and will fledge around 12 weeks of age.

   It is believed the Senegals mature at approximately 4 years, although some will not breed until they are 6 – 7 years old. They are relatively easy to breed in captivity and require a nest box that is 18 inches high and 10 inches square. Suitable nest-box litter would be decomposed non-toxic saw dust, wood shavings, peat mixture, or other suitable materials. 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.

Potential Problems

   A Senegal Parrot 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 Senegal, 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.


   Because of the success in captive breeding Senegal parrots are available and but are moderately expensive.


Author: Cheryl Galloway
Lastest Animal Stories on Senegal Parrot

Gabby - 2008-10-03
Alas, fellow Senegal lovers it seems we are destined to try to please what can be a very moody bird species. I have two Sengal parrots. Scooter, the male, is 20 (yes, that's twenty!)years old. I got him at 4 weeks of age and he has only just become more predictable in his behavior. I am hoping his hormone levels have peaked and are now on the decline that will hopefully lead to more dependable, good behavior. For many years, he would give me severe bites on the hands, arms, and face. These bites were always unexpected and I could never really pin down what might have sent him over the edge. I have read everything out there on Sengal behavior and what has worked best for Scooter and I are boundaries and setting limits. I do not let him have the run of the house and return him to his cage periodically and latch the door to reinforce his dependency on me. If he goes through a spell where he acts as if doesn't respect me, I will take him out of his environment and upset his comfort level with a trip to the post office, etc. so that he again views me as his safety net. Keeping their nails groomed and wings trimmed is especially important- an independent Senegal can get pretty full of himself. Track on a calandar what months you seem to be having the most behavioral problems. It could be cyclic with hormones and the seasons. Don't give up! Maintain the commitment you made to your Senegal when you first got it. Be aware of your Senegals body language and know the signals- flashing eyes, low aggressive stance, etc. Sengals should not be placed on your head (Scooter leaned over and bit my eyelid) and shoulder time is stongly discouraged. There is a reason the pirates with parrots wear eye patches! There is no reason that you can't enjoy your Sengal for as many years as I have plus 20 to 30 more.

  • Anonymous - 2013-08-13
    Just about to get a rescue bird, thanks for positive flow. I know this love is love. You step in, never give in. Animals rock, god bless.
  • Olivia Verde - 2016-06-28
    Hi,, i have babysat my son's Senegal for 6 weeks. There are ways with do have to tune in to their moods..But that seems pretty easy for me anyway. It's just an instinct or something. I can see where it would be easy to have the bird get into biting, etc. but if one knows how to handle, it will not develop into a problem. Anyway, i found your post a little on the negative side. Yes, they need strong boundaries, but they also need to be tuned in to, this bird now sits on my should (A LOT!) and he loves it and so do I. He will nibble at me if he wants his neck rubbed! Adorable. He can get lightly 'bitey' but that is just 'normal' as far as I can see. Sometimes when he is IN the cage, he can act like he might bite me..but I just move on and interest him in something else..i can see where that could get into a habit..if not handled with love and patience..and yes, some boundaries. I knew my son had taught him No! because when I first strongly said NO to him...he just STOPPED in his tracks! Anyway, we all have our personalities as do our birds. Gentle like with a toddler perhaps. Wants to get into everything, and yes they must be watched closely, or can get into real trouble. He loves being with me, but he surely also entertains himself. He LOVES chewing, they need LOTS Of things to shred, and really get their beak into! If they don't have that, yes, they will have to get that extra energy out somehow. He loves to shred corks, and chew on toothbrushes! clean new ones, natch. and stick pen caps, etc. Wood of course (such as the dining room chair..until I saw, and covered it with a piece of cloth. And i wear what I call a 's**t shirt when he's on my shoulder..he'll chew on that too.
Julie Nicosia - 2016-05-16
I have my late husband Senegal Parrot. He got him as a baby, 8 yrs later his wife and Neice's use to load covers on him day time and shake the cage telling him to shut up. I met him a few years later. It was love at first sight. We danced, I sang to him. My husband pasted away 2 years ago. We have been real close. But sometimes he bites. I spoil him, his on the exotic Parrot food, Lafeber's Nutri-Berries. Before he was malnourished because the store food is not for Parrots. So he is in good health, even a big cage with lots of to yes he plays with or both of us. I was petting him and reached back and bit me hanging on. Why? He knows I won't touch him again for a while. He don't like that. I just want him to be loveable and trust worthy to hold him on my shoulder and cuddle. Any answers?

Rachel - 2014-06-03
My Senegal parrot escaped three weeks ago. When he got out, he was in the early stages of puberty: lots of molting, his eyes beginning to change color from grey to a definite yellow. Four days ago, I got a call that he had been found and went to pick him up. The found parrot is farther into puberty, with orange eyes with dark circles around them and very bright plumage. So my question is: is it possible it is the same parrot? It is friendly toward me but, so far, does not show any of the behaviors I had known my parrot to. However, the combination of puberty and three weeks in the wild, plus the fact that he's only just gotten home ... he might just be tired and stressed. Any advice?

  • Ally - 2015-01-24
    I'mm 80% sure that's probably your bird. I mean, I don't think theres a huge amount of pet Senegals getting loose, you know?
Lorna - 2014-08-24
Is is normal for my Senegal to put his head in his water dish and make himself wet all over by flicking the water?

  • Clarice Brough - 2014-08-26
    Yeah, he's fine doing that, he just wants to take a bath. You could also try providing him with a bird bath - flat dish with lukewarm water on the bottom of the cage - and see if he likes that, or using a misting bottle with a gentle spray may be appreciated.