The Red-Bellied Parrot is one of the most common birds that occupy the homes of families and for good reasons. They are part of the African birds and like the rest of its good aspects, this species of bird is not left behind. Among the African bird family, the Red Bellied Parrot is considered to have the most developed vocal aspect without being a scandalous or annoying bird. In addition to its excellent personality, the color of its plumage certainly draws attention but not everything is what it seems. To have this bird at home, many will be able to talk but not all will be able to handle it due to the requirements and attention it demands from its owners. That is why you must know as much as you can about the pet and the specific breed or subspecies. Every detail matters and you should focus on the little ones that in the long run will add up and will be the ones that will completely determine your relationship with your Red-Bellied Parrot in this case. One thing you should be aware of is that even though they are considered an excellent and entertaining family member, they have a reputation of being nippy when they don’t feel happy or satisfied and if they become a one-bird person their socialization with visitors and other pets can be problematic.
Although they share an area or zone with other animals belonging to the Poicephalus species, this bird is not under any threat or danger, such as the Hawk Headed Parrot or Ruppell’s Parrot. This makes this poicephalus parrot easy to visualize both in its natural habitat and other places such as a household or a zoo, although the latter is not something that I am in favor of since they limit the animals to being confined in a space controlled by humans. What I mean is that you will have no problem acquiring a bird of this species, no matter how much attention it may attract because of its personality or plumage, it is still a fairly common pet bird in the homes of bird lovers. As I just mentioned, the Red-Bellied Parrot belongs to the famous poicephalus species of birds, among which are some parrot species like the Cape Parrot, Meyer’s Parrot, or Senegal Parrot. Its scientific name is Poicephalus rufiventris but you can also get or hear of this bird by other common names such as Abyssinian Parrot, African Orange-bellied Parrot, or Red-Breasted Parrot, it all depends on the place and the local traditions of the people. Among this family of African birds, some have great similarities between them but there are always details that differentiate them all and that is why each one received its name. In the case of the Red-Bellied Parrot, it was thanks to their plumage that they received their name, while others have been named by the person who discovered or described them and Meyer’s Parrot reported them for the first time.
The area where they usually live is in Eastern Africa, heading towards the water sources, brushlands, woodlands, and semi-arid to dry savannahs, being areas like Tanzania, Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya.
Something that makes the Red-Bellied Parrot stand out from the other African species (with its exceptions) is that the male and female can be distinguished at first sight thanks to the coloration of their plumage, that this means that they are a bird with sexual dimorphism. But this change is seen when they are between 4 and 5 months old since between these first stages the human is not able to differentiate them because they are identical in their coloration that will change progressively once these months pass. Before we continue talking about its plumage, let’s go with something a little more general about this wonderful bird.
To begin with, just like their cousins, this African parrot is a small bird that can reach 9 inches in length and weigh about 5 ounces once they have reached maturity. Red bellied parrots have an average life span of about 20 years, so this is a very important commitment, and one not to be taken lightly even if they are a small pet. It may be small on the outside but inside it has the mentality of a much larger bird. Something that stands out in the Red-Bellied Parrot, besides the striking tone in the lower part of his body, are his eyes that have a red iris surrounded by gray feathers, also in this same part of the body his beak that has a tone between black and gray, is strong and the form is similar to that of a hawk. This gray shade is more pronounced in the females, where it reaches the lower part of the body where it turns to a green shade with some exceptions where they present a touch of orange. This difference is the most marked between both sexes since the male red bellied parrot presents a gray tone in everything that corresponds to the head, neck, wings, and legs, but in their chest, they carry the color so distinctive and what led them to obtain the name of this bird by having an orange tone.
Red Bellies are great pets for the home because they are loving, playful, and love to entertain with their goofy personality and ability to talk and even whistle. But before I continue to describe all their good attributes, it is best to understand and know from the beginning what you are getting into by adopting a Red-Bellied Parrot. Their training during the early stages of their life under your care and the rest of your family is of utmost importance as it will determine what kind of bird you are going to have, whether it is the loving and playful one that everyone knows in what you call the internet, or a nippy and problematic version because you have not been able to handle it and it did not have adequate training. It is of utmost importance that you know what you are doing when training a bird of this species since it will mark its personality. It is very different to have a bird like the African Grey Parrot that is considered a one-person bird because of its personality. Although other birds are not cataloged as such, they may well end up this way by neglecting small aspects that will eventually add up. To begin with, you should go with a good and reputable breeder, since he will be able to inform you about how he has been handling the bird during his first days. If you expect to have a bird that is hand-tamed, it is important that from the beginning he gets used to the contact with you humans to avoid making it difficult for him to train.
One aspect that might seem a little contradictory, is that they are prone to panic attacks but they don’t have as much trouble with strangers and even some pets. You just have to be alert when introducing someone new into the home and not suddenly or abruptly to avoid this type of problem with your new pet. You shouldn’t be afraid to seek help from a professional or a credentialed person to do this efficiently, and safely for both, you and your Red-Bellied Parrot. A veterinarian or the bird breeder himself can point out some places or people that can help you in this aspect since both will seek to give your new pet the best quality of life in all that is within their reach. Of course, everything regarding the health of your bird should be done with a bird doctor rather than a breeder.
Now, once you have passed this first stage that could be seen as the “most complicated” one when raising a bird of this species, if all goes well, you will get the Red-Bellied Parrot that they talk so much about and you can find on other websites. These birds are somewhat independent but for this, you must provide them with an adequate environment and equipment, so they can have a full and happy life as they deserve. Their playful and goofy personality is certainly something that will entertain both the family and visitors who come to your home, they tend to hang upside down whenever they can because it is said that in their natural habitat there is a fruit hanging from a tree, and to eat it they must be hanging by their feet. Like any other pet, they love to receive love and some attention, something that should not surprise you since any entertainer always expects to receive applause and attention from his audience. You can take him around the house while you do your things, let him cuddle and receive affection to a certain extent but you must learn to provide him with this valuable time, so that they can socialize and interact with the rest of the family and outside his cage in a space that is safe, and you can control him if he has any of his panic attacks.
Another thing for which they are usually quite appreciated and known is their ability to speak or mimic words with great ease, some even reproduce them without you having looked for a way to teach them or have devoted yourself to it. Having said that, you must be very careful with the environment at home since I don’t think you like your bird repeating something it hears at a bad time when you have visitors or it makes annoying noises. Luckily for you as an owner, they are not known to be noisy birds despite this ability to reproduce sounds and to learn to whistle, but it could well be seen as a double-edged sword. You should not be overconfident because it is a quiet bird and a good choice for small apartments or homes, you should give it the proper care and handling so you can have a bird with manners that will not cause any problems. I may sound like a bird repeating the subject of its management over and over again throughout the article but it is for good reasons and I hope you can understand the importance of that.
HEALTH & CARE
Red-Bellied Parrots are birds that have good health throughout their lives as long as they are properly managed and cared for. I recommend that you keep your doctor’s visits as a routine, just as you would with a person throughout the year to ensure that you have everything under control since there will be things that your doctor may realize that are not relevant to you. Besides, by maintaining a very good and close relationship with your pet you will be able to learn all its tricks and attitudes so that when it presents a change that is not for the better, you will be able to detect in time any discomfort it may have and avoid complications. They are living beings just like you humans, so they will always be exposed or prone to a great variety of pathologies that even with the best of care there will be things that can get out of hand. Remember to keep the cage in an area of the home that is ideal for your bird, that has a controlled environment, and free of drafts that will harm your bird. Clean the cage as often as necessary and also clean the water and food containers, since food can deteriorate quickly, creating mold and therefore problems for your bird. All these aspects are mentioned in more detail in this article about the care and management of pet birds in case you want to know more about it, if you are someone with experience you can read it to refresh your memory or just continue in this article.
Speaking of food, it is something very fundamental for every living being, as is a constant supply of drinkable water. Many birds are prone to diseases either by deficiency or excess of some mineral or vitamin by not knowing how to manage their diet. In the pet stores, you will have at your disposal a great variety of foods and presentations that you can give to your Red-Bellied Parrot along with fruits, seeds, and some flowers to give some variety to their dishes. There are some presentations of this type of food that resemble what birds usually eat in their natural environment, which could keep them interested in food. Another thing I recommend is that you avoid as much as possible using foods or buying those that have some artificial additive because, in the long run, they can bring problems to your new pet, the best thing is to keep everything as natural as possible although it may be a little more expensive. You may think you are saving some money on their daily food but in the future, you may end up paying even more than that for medical treatment.
Among those diseases that are considered to be the most common among domestic birds are Psittacosis, infections of bacterial, viral, or fungal origin, congenital problems that lead to beak malformations in young birds, toxicity, feather plucking as a sign of some kind of dissatisfaction or dislike. The latter can occur if you keep your bird locked up for a long time in its cage, or if the cage does not have the right proportions so that your bird can be more than comfortable inside it. Besides, you must ensure that the material that the cage is made of is strong because its powerful beak can easily break many things. For this reason, it is also recommended to use toys that he will destroy and should not be harmful to your pet bird. The clipping of their wings, beaks, and nails is best done by someone who has the care and knowledge to do it, and you can take advantage of the visits you make to the avian vet to have him take care of it.
I hope you liked this little guide about this little bird that has a huge impact on households that have the joy of getting a Red-Bellied Parrot. Being a loving bird, very active, playful, goofy, chatty, and somewhat independent will certainly be an excellent addition to the family if you have what it takes to care for it. If you think I’ve missed something or if you have any questions please let me know in the comment section down below.
Pictures courtesy of eBird checklist (John Sullivan, Abdulhakim Abdi).