Fifteen years ago there was a lot of interest in all three recognised subspecies of the Jardine’s Parrot. The demand and interest seems to have waned over the years, possibly due to the fact that they have turned out to be fairly reliable breeders and are not as much in demand as a pet as the plentiful African Greys. Recently newcomers to aviculture, and to parrot breeding in particular, have asked that Avizandum publish an article on these parrots for their information. Newcomers to our hobby are the future of our hobby and we welcome them to, what we hope for them, will be a lifelong interesting and satisfying hobby.
The nominate specie of Jardine’s Parrot is Poicephalus gulielmi gulielmi. This subspecie is known as the Black-winged Jardine. Some of our males had almost pure black wings this just the faintest edge of green to the otherwise black feathers. These birds were all males, the females showed a broader green edge to the black feathers giving them a more scalloped look. The males showed some red-orange above the beak, whereas the females showed this colour from the beak well onto the head. The green of the body we found to be a rich forest green, which was different from the green of the Lesser Jardine (Poicephalus gulielmi fantiensis) which we found to be a lighter emerald green. The Lesser Jardine also had a broader green edge to the black feathers of the shoulders giving the wings a scalloped appearance. The Lesser also seems to have more orange on the head in both sexes than either the Black-wing or the Greater, and it is noticeably smaller.
The Greater Jardine (Poicephalus gulielmi massaicus) we found to be about the same size as the Black-wing Jardine but there are individual variations. To us the main difference was the beak. The Black-wing Jardine has a very robust beak, reminiscent of a Cape Parrot, whereas the Greater Jardine has a smaller neat beak, giving the bird a neat more proportioned look. The Greater Jardine, like the Lesser Jardine, has a broad green edge to the black feathers on its wings, which gives it a scalloped effect on the wings. Another slight difference when comparing the Black-wing and the Greater, was that the green of the Black-wing was a darker shade than that of the Greater.
Our captive bred babies reached sexual maturity in their third year and we found them to be reliable parents. When we needed babies as pets we removed them from the nest at between two and three weeks of age. At this point they proved easy to rear using Avi-Plus Handrearing. This is the same as Avi-Plus Handrearing Phase 2. Once fully feathered they can be fed Avi-Plus Handrearing Phase3 until weaning.
When it came to breeding we only used one type of nest box, an upright box 450mm x 300mm x 300mm with a 100mm entrance hole at the top. Other breeders report using other types of nestboxes successfully, such as L-shaped boxes, “garingboom” and horizontal boxes, so I don’t think they are very fussy with nest selection.
A lot of our success with these parrots was probably due to feeding. You need to ensure that there are adequate minerals, trace elements and vitamins in the diet and as with African Greys try to ensure that there is 0.9% to 1.0% available calcium in their diet. This along with adequate levels of vitamins A and D will ensure that your hen lay eggs with a good shell and that the babies are strong and do not suffer from rickets (bent bones). Our birds were fed a softfood consisting of maize, peas, wheat, Avi-Plus Parrot/Parakeet supplement, some Avi-Plus complete maintenance pellets or breeder pellets, depending on which was appropriate and some sunflower seed. To this we added a variety of chopped vegetables. Today one can buy a precooked mix from Avi-Products to which you just add hot water stir and feed.
We housed our birds in suspended aviaries 2.7m x 900mm x 900mm with two thirds of the cage covered and one third open to the sun and rain. This was the only way we kept them but other breeders have bred them in walk-in aviaries of the same length and longer and bred successfully. My personal view is that the aviaries we had should be the minimum size if one is going to keep the hen there year after year. The hens need exercise if they are to lay and breed normally and a smaller will not give them enough space to fly.
In the August 2005 issue of Avizandum, Deno Lombard of Port Elizabeth, wrote a very informative article on his breeding experiences with all three subspecies of Jardine’s parrots. It is worthwhile revisiting his article.
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