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What Is a Red-Bellied Parrot?

By Angie Bates
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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A red-bellied parrot is a colorful bird native to the savanna of eastern Africa. Relatively quiet and affectionate, the red-bellied parrot is often seen in the pet trade. Considered the best talker in its genus, this parrot is frequently known to mimic sounds and words when kept as a pet. The scientific name for this bird is Poicephalus rufiventris.

Sexually dimorphic, the male and female red-bellied parrot differ in their coloring. Both have dark gray wings and light gray backs and heads, which may be tinged with green, as well green tails and lower bellies. The male's chest is a bright orange or red, but the female's is green. Small for a parrot, these birds average 11.4 inches (29 cm) in length. They usually live about 20 years.

Non-threatened in the wild, the red-bellied parrot lives in steppe woodlands or dry brush areas of Ethiopia, Somalia, and Tanzania, where seeds and fruit comprise its primary diet. It normally is found at elevations no higher than 3,560 feet (2,000 m). Nesting in tree cavities, these birds mate between March and October, depending on the region. On average, the female lays three eggs and incubates them for about a month. The young are nest-bound for about two months before fledging.

The red-bellied parrot is considered a good pet by bird enthusiasts because it generally enjoys human attention, is relatively quiet, and is usually a good talker. Although these birds are considered quiet, they are still quite vocal. They do not often scream like many large bird species, but they will still call, sing, or mimic sounds on a regular basis.

Captive birds usually eat a combination of high-quality pellets, seed blends, and fresh fruits and vegetables. They require both bath water and drinking water, which should be changed daily. Large cages, with comfortable perches and a multitude of toys, are also necessary. Additional play areas outside of the cage, containing perches and toys, are recommended. Since the red-bellied parrot is a social bird, it will usually want attention from and to play with its owners daily.

As with many captive birds, good socialization in early development is necessary for the red-bellied parrot to become comfortable with humans. Well socialized birds are usually considered affectionate, outgoing, and quirky, though they may at first seem timid. Poor early socialization, however, leads to shy, easily frightened birds, which may only allow themselves to be handled by a single person.

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