Psittacus erithacus Linnaeus, 1758, Ghana. Two subspecies.
OTHER COMMON NAMES
English: African gray parrot; French: Perroquet jaco; German: Graupapagei; Spanish: Loro Yaco.
13 in (33 cm); 08–0.81 lb (402–407 g). Stocky, gray bird with short, red tail.
P. e. erithacus: Ivory Coast east to Congo River basin. P. e. timneh: Sierra Leone to Ivory Coast.
Lowlands and foothills. Primarily moist evergreen forest and tall secondary growth, but commonly visits gallery woodland, mangroves, plantations, and gardens.
Sedentary, but local numbers influenced by food availability. Noisy and highly conspicuous at communal nighttime roosts, where they gather in large numbers; pairs or small groups leave roost at sunrise, flying high above treetops and calling loudly; feeds in canopy during morning and afternoon, resting at midday, but wary and difficult to approach; return flights to roost may continue after nightfall; daily flights follow regular routes.
FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET
Feeds arboreally, taking seeds, nuts, fruits, and berries; favors pulp of fruits from cultivated oil palms (Elaeis guineensis); reports of damage to maize crops unconfirmed.
Monogamous. Breeding season varies geographically from November to April in West Africa to between July and December in Congo River basin and June–July in East Africa. Nest in tree hollow high above ground; clutch of two or three, rarely four, eggs incubated by female; incubation periods of 21 and 30 days recorded in captivity, and young birds left nest nearly 10 weeks after hatching.
Generally common and locally abundant, but deforestation and capture for live-bird trade have caused dramatic declines in some districts, notably in Sierra Leone and Ghana. Listed on CITES Appendix II.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS
Very popular cage bird with reputation as best “talker;” second most heavily traded parrot species in 1980s, when average annual exports exceeded 47,000 birds.
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