Posted: March 4, 2011, 12:00 a.m. PST
The Ruppell’s parrot (Poicephalus rueppellii), is a bird native to southwestern Africa. It is named after the German naturalist Wilhelm Peter Eduard Simon Rüppell.
This parrot is part of the Poicephalus parrot family. According to the World Parrot Trust, there are 9,000 Ruppell’s parrots in the wild.
In United States aviculture, the Ruppell’s parrot is considered rare and hard to find. There are some bird breeders in the country who work with these birds, but they are few and far between. The first breeder to establish these parrots was Robert Nelson in the 1980s. Another breeder is Steve Garvin of Feather Tree Aviaries in Long Beach, Calif., who has been breeding the parrots since 1989. He is considered an expert when it comes to this species.
A female Ruppell's parrot.
The Ruppell’s parrot is the size of a Meyer’s parrot or Senegal, around 9 inches long. According to Gavin, Ruppell’s parrots “are quieter than a Jardine’s parrot
, but sound is relative.” Poicephalus parrots are considered among the quieter parrot species, but in Gavin’s experience, female Ruppell’s parrots may talk, but the males imitate all sorts of the sounds, including words.
What makes Ruppell’s parrots unique is that they are one of the few Poicephalus
parrots that are sexually dimorphic (i.e., males can be differentiated from females). The females have bright blue feathers along their lower back and abdomens. The males have the same blue on their backs, but, according to Gavin, you won’t see it that often. Males and females have bright yellow feathers on their shoulders and legs. Juvenile parrots are mostly dark, with a faint shading of blue on their abdomens and backs.
According to Garvin Ruppell’s parrots, “are nomadic and live in a cold area of the desert. They aren’t seen in big groups, only five [individuals] or under.” After breeding season, Gavin said the parrots “divorce” each other and are not monogamous.
As pets, Garvin indicated that males seem to talk better, “but you don’t get the pretty blue of the female. Although they make a good pet like the Senegal or Meyer’s, I prefer [housing] them in the aviary, so I can watch their natural behaviors.”