The Nomadic and mischievous Ruppell’s Parrot

Birds Human Classroom

The friendly Ruppell’s parrot comes from Africa, among the African parrots, this is known to be a cousin of the Senegal Parrot and Meyer’s Parrot, it’s a bird that combines colors between dark tones and certain parts with bright colors. It is known for being affectionate, silly, and for being very vocal, they love to talk and repeat words, they have natural melodies and some can be shrill. To obtain this bird as a pet is a delicate matter since they are protected birds. If you are a bird lover and you are interested in knowing more about Ruppell’s keep reading.

Origin/Natural Habitat

Ruppell’s parrot or also known as Rueppell’s Parrot belongs to the Psittacidae family of the genus Poicephalus, being of the Poicephalus Rueppellii species. Other birds that belong to the genus Poicephalus that are very known are the Cape parrot, brown headed parrot, red bellied parrot, and others. This parrot is found mainly in Southwestern Africa, mainly in the Central part of Namibia, extending to the North and reaching Angola. Ruppell’s habitat varies from several areas, it likes to be in dry woodland, dry steppe, and thornveld, woodlands along dry riverbeds, and areas where tall trees are found. They like to stay in groups of approximately 20 birds or depending on the amount of food found in the area maybe more. This bird is named after the German naturalist and explorer Eduard Ruppell, who was someone who dedicated himself to the natural world in different fields. Because this parrot species is mostly nomadic, it is not possible to calculate exactly its wild population, but studies by groups of universities have determined that its population is in decline and is threatened by its illegal capture for trade because of the increased fame as a pet, so it is in the group of protected birds, also prohibiting the sale and illegal export of the Ruppell’s parrots. Unfortunately, this is not fully respected and they are exported to certain countries, being South Africa the country that receives more exports of these species. 

Features and Personality

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The appearance of the birds of the Poicephalus group share many common features: they are robust and have bulky heads with powerful beaks and much more. In this case, the Ruppell’s parrot is a small-medium sized bird that measures about 9 inches and weighs about 5 ounces, and has a life expectancy of 35 years.

When they are juvenile birds, the color of their fur does not show completely until they reach adulthood and they last approximately 14 months to arrive. At this stage the color of their feathers is duller, they can have certain yellow feathers and their tights are brown but the way to really identify them is by the color of their eyes since they are dark brown. Once they reach adulthood, both birds change the color of their eyes to a bright red but in their plumage there can be slight differences according to the sex, but in their majority, both have a dark brown color in almost all their body and the head they have a dark greyish color, in the superior part of their wings they have a yellow plumage and in their tights are darker yellow arriving in orange tones, their beak is of a dark color and their legs are black. As for the female has a striking blue feather specifically in the areas of the lower back, lower abdomen, and the rump. While in the male birds at first also tend to have some blue feathers but end up falling as it matures.

Of the few who have come to be in captivity or cared for by people, they have described this parish as being very social, establishing unique bonds with only one person and expressing all their love. They are mischievous, friendly, energetic, and loving, once they mark their favorite person they dedicate everything to them and also let themselves be loved. They are also known for being jealous, if they see that their person is with another person in their special time they may peck at them, but don’t worry that they may come to accept the person at some point. The Ruppell’s parrot is very vocal, they usually learn words or phrases and repeat them all the time, they also have their own songs or melodies with tones a little high that can annoy in the long run, although compared to other poicephalus this species is less shrill.

Care and Feeding

As I said before, this is a bird that is under protection, so having it as a pet is a delicate matter aside and it is very rare to find these in captivity. In case you wish to have a Ruppell’s parrot, you should investigate how the laws are in their respective countries to have it. In the care that I can recommend you first that this bird likes to move constantly, so you must ensure that it has a  large cage enough to they can fly inside it and move freely, the cage size should be at least 7 ft in length, try to fill the cage with many toys (non-toxic) to keep him distracted because they like to stay active, different types of perch, among other types of entertainment for birds. The bars in the cage shouldn’t have too much space between them because they can get their heads between the bars, get stuck, and can suffocate. Also, make sure that the bars are a hard material because it can bite them constantly and damage the bars, but make sure that they are not made of toxic materials. Always remember to keep the cage clean, at least wash the cage completely once a week and make sure that the soap doesn’t have toxic elements that could endanger the life of your pets, and let it dry well. don’t forget to keep his food and water bowl in a place where it won’t fall out with his droppings and contaminate it, including water bowls for bathing. Also, when it is time for breeding, make sure they have their nest box.

Although you get the perfect cage for your parrot doesn’t mean that they have to stay all day locked up in it, give them three to more hours of free flight inside the house so they can stretch well, take advantage of a good flight, and exercise satisfactorily and avoid being overweight. You also give him to know the place and he gets familiar with your home. Make sure you don’t have any toxic plants for them and that they are in a calm and safe environment. At the same time, you can interact with your Ruppell’s and enjoy a good time together.

If you get to have this bird as a pet you have to make sure you give it all the living conditions it deserves, the attention it needs, and its health care because if you start to neglect your bird can develop diseases or conditions that can risk their life. One of the common diseases that can happen in this kind of parrot is the psittacine beak and feather disease, which comes from a virus called Circoviru and can cause long-term immunosuppression as well as cause feather and beak abnormalities. It doesn’t have a cure and can be very fatal, it affects wild and domestic birds, and the only way to control this virus is prevention, and infected birds should be kept isolated from non-infected birds as the disease is easily transmitted. Also, they may present a destructive attitude to their plumage that is known as “feather plucking” if a check is made and the veterinarian discards a physical cause, this may be caused by the stress that the bird must have because of boredom or the lifestyle it has, due to the lack of mental stimulation. This can be avoided if you give them a good lifestyle that allows them to exercise, move around or climb nets, or simply enjoy playing, and enjoying their toys.

Don’t forget to take your pet to the avian vet a couple of times a year to have him/her checked for any kind of illness and to help maintain good health.

In the wildlife, Ruppell’s Parrot likes to eat a wide variety of foods, where studies have shown that it has a preference for about 37 species of plants. Their diet is mainly based on seeds, but also include fruit, flower nectar, leaves, and even some insects. As a pet, you have to make sure to give him a great variety of nutrients he needs like sunflower seeds, nuts, legumes, or cooked beans, a great variety of fruits like melons, bananas, oranges, apples, etc. Fresh vegetables like green beans, carrots in very small pieces, celery, peas, among others. You can also buy high-quality bird food that contains natural ingredients and their corresponding nutrients, do not buy any brand of food just to get by, you can ask your avian veterinarian which brand is the best. 

Nesting / Breeding

Picture by D. Petrausch

In the wild Ruppell’s parrot, they look for places such as tree cavities to start their nesting and look for places that are at least 5 m tall. Breeding season starts in January and usually lasts until May or June. The size of their nest is large enough for the mother to lay 3 to 5 white eggs, which are incubated by the female in an average of 27 days. The chicks leave the nest after approximately 9 weeks, although in captivity the chicks last less time to leave the nest. Don’t forget to leave a vertical nest box in their cage that has the right size for them or preferably this size of 12″ x 12″ x 24″.

Due to the difficulty or rarity of having this bird in captivity, getting breeders of this type of bird can be very difficult. You must go to the corresponding authorities or entities that are responsible for this bird so that they can provide you with all the information necessary to obtain this magnificent, playful, and unique bird. If you have any questions or if you think I’ve missed anything please let me know in the comment section down below.

Professor Whiskers
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