Poicephalus meyeri (Meyer's parrot) 

Bosveldpapegaai [Afrikaans]; Papalagae [North Sotho]; Gwere, Hwenga [Shona]; Hokwe (generic term for parrot) [Tsonga]; Meyer-papegaai [Dutch]; Perroquet de Meyer [French]; Goldbugpapagei [German]; Papagaio de Meyer [Portuguese]

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Poicephalus meyeri (Meyer's parrot)  Poicephalus meyeri (Meyer's parrot) 

Meyer's parrot. [photo Callie de Wet ]

Meyer's parrot stretching. [photo Callie de Wet ]

The Meyer's parrot is found only in the northern half of southern Africa, where it is common in Zimbabwe and northern Botswana. It lives in various types of woodland, usually near water. It prefers to eat seeds and nuts, as well as fruit, flowers and, rarely, insects. It nests in tree cavities, sometimes made by woodpeckers and barbets, where it lays 2-4 eggs, which are incubated by the female for 29-31 days. The chicks are fed by both their parents, who regurgitate the food upside down, to help facilitate regurgitation. The brood stay in the nest for 60-84 days (recorded in captivity), and, once they have left the nest, may still be dependent on their parents into the next egg-laying season.

Distribution and habitat

Occurs from Chad and Sudan, through Uganda, Tanzania, Angola and Zambia to southern Africa. Within southern Africa it is locally common in north-eastern Namibia (including the Caprivi Strip), northern and eastern Botswana, Zimbabwe, northern Mozambique and north-eastern South Africa. It generally prefers woodland, ranging from savanna and riparian woodlands to dry Acacia scrub and miombo (Brachystegia) woodland, usually near water. Also occurs in woodlands dominated by cluster-leaf (Terminalia), munondos (Julbernadia) and bushwillow (Combretum).

Distribution of Meyer's parrot in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project ( Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  

Call

 
   

Recorded by Clem Hagner, Plettenberg Bay 1963, [ Transvaal Museum]

 

Food 

Mainly eats seeds and nuts, husking small seeds and chewing on larger food items. It is the only bird capable of cracking pods and seeds of leguminous trees, so it benefits from a monopoly on this food type, with scarce competition. The following food items have been recorded in it's diet:

  • Plants
    • fruits, nuts and seeds
      • Ficus (figs)
      • Ziziphus abyssinica (Large jujube)
      • Uapaca nitida (Narrow-leaved mahobohobo)
      • Monotes glaber (Pale-fruit monotes)
      • Combretum (bushwillows)
      • Grewia (raisins)
      • Sclerocarya birrea (Marula)
      • Pseudolachnostylis maprounifelia (Kudu-berry)
      • Afzelia quanzensis (Pod-mahogany)
      • Brachystegia (miombo)
    • cultivated plants
      • oranges
      • maize
    • flowers
      • Sclerocarya birrea (Marula)
      • Schotia brachypetala (Weeping boer-bean)
    • green pods of Faidherbia albida (Ana-tree)
  • Insects

Breeding

  • It nests in tree cavities 3-10 m above ground, which are sometimes old nests of woodpeckers and barbets. It sometimes uses the same nest hole in multiple breeding seasons.
  • Egg-laying season is from March-August, peaking from April-May.
  • It lays 2-4 eggs, which are incubated solely by the female for about 29-31 days.
  • The chicks are fed by both parents, who regurgitate the food upside down, so that it comes out easier.
  • The brood stay in the nest for 60-84 days (recorded in captivity), becoming fully independent just before the onset of the following breeding season.

Threats

Not globally threatened, but its population has dramatically decreased in South Africa and Zimbabwe due to habitat destruction.

References

  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG (eds) 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town. 

 

 

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