Jean "The African Queen" Pattison
First and foremost I would like to stress what makes a temperament in these birds. I am sure some is in the genes, that is what makes Poicephalus basically the same. I do not believe there is a "substantial" difference in temperament between the species. Any differences I am pointing out is just fine tuning. Since we are working with a wild gene pool at this time in aviculture, those genes are set for survival.
As with many domesticated animals, their security, experience, and compatibility help play an important role in starting with a good foundation. The hand feeding and weaning stages also play an important part in helping develop steady birds going into the pet trade. Once a bird goes into a pet situation there should be continued nurturing and guidelines for responsible pet owners and their birds. I do not have a favorite Poicephalus, each is a favorite for a different reason.
Overall temperament: The Poicephalus species as a whole have an endearing quality. They have the potential to be very good, well socialized pet birds. They are not noisy and raucous nor do they scream for attention. Most are able to talk and some extremely well; some with hundred word vocabularies. Their voice is somewhat computerized, yet very understandable. For the most part they are affectionate and enjoy being cuddled and scratched. They are active birds and need a variety of toys for entertainment. They do extremely well in a one bird household and the need to find them a "buddy" is not necessary. Working people have had great success even if these birds are left alone for much of the day. Of course, they need interacting time with their keeper on a regular basis. A neglected bird can and will become cage bound and anti social. Most make good first birds and some are wonderful for young adults (10 year and up). Some are very tolerant of small children, and even friendly and gentle around them.
The Senegal (Poicephalus senegalus): Senegals love you loving them.
Senegals are the most common of the little Poicephalus. Senegals as pets are very charming, endearing birds. Some can learn large vocabularies and be willing to be handled by anyone. Others will, even if coaxed, learn only a few words. They are very playful, needing a variety of toys and entertainment (swings are one of their favorite toys). By the same token, they are not demanding. Senegals are self entertaining and are quite comfortable in a working mom situation. Intense is a word a lot of people use in describing them. They find mischievous ways of getting into things, almost as if to get your attention. Senegals are very loyal, and they expect the same in return. If a Senegal is allowed to bond to a certain person, he may perceive any one else as a threat to his "intended". They can at this time become possessive and may bite their owner trying to drive them to security, or may bite the intruder, trying to drive them away. Some Senegals have been know to all of a sudden freak out and become very fearful. These are being referred to as the "phobic" Senegals. No one seems to know why they just all of a sudden do this, and many behaviorists are searching for the answer. With time and understanding they do seem to over come it. I recommend them as a great first bird. I do not recommend them for young children.
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