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African Brown Head
Pet Qualities

When it comes to overall pet qualities and suitability as companions, brown heads are quite similar to the other Poicephalus.  I say this because finding information on brown heads is very difficult; but finding information on Senegals is comparatively easy.  In general, more or less everything that is applicable to Senegals when describing pet qualities is also applicable to brown heads, so if you're looking for info on brown heads, read all the info on Senegals (as well as Meyer's and other Poicephalus) that you can find!  This should give you a general idea of what the group, including brown heads, is like.

Poicephalus can be described as loving, independent, aggressive, shy, sensitive, phobic, playful, acrobatic, cuddly and sweet.  And that can all be one bird!  When considering a pet parrot, many people look immediately to the large parrots such as Amazons or cockatoos.  But these birds often have a low success rate when it comes to being placed in homes with little bird experience; they're prone to behavior problems unless they're with someone that knows how to prevent them.  Poicephalus are often ideal for people looking for a parrot, but who are not yet ready for the "big guys"; they're every bit as intelligent and interactive, but are much more easily manageable, both in size and in personality, as well as in other factors such as price, noise and destructiveness.  There are still things that can go wrong, certainly, they're just less likely to do so than with some parrots!

When compared to other midsize parrots, there are differences as well.  Poicephalus tend to be more independent than conures; that's not to say they don't adore their people and won't take all the attention they can get, but they tend to be much better about being left alone.  They can occupy themselves.  Conures are somewhat prone to overbonding to their people to the point that they get extremely upset when left alone, even if their owner is just leaving the room for a moment.  Poicephalus are much less prone to this; while they'd prefer to go with you, they're content to stay!

One thing about Poicephalus that is worth remembering, is that they have very long memories!  My favorite example is Flip Flop, one of my very first baby brown heads whom I gave to my aunt Sue.  After he went to her home, I probably didn't see him for at least a year; didn't matter, he remembered me as "mommy" and to this day gets excited when he sees me and is much gentler with me than he is with anyone else... Including, unfortunately, my aunt!  That latter part has more to do with the fact that he knows he can boss poor aunt Sue around and he also knows he'd never get away with that business with me, but I'm always impressed that he remembers me at all!  Their long memories aren't always such good things, though; they'll also remember people who did something they didn't like, such as the veterinarian who dared to trim their toenails or the child that accidentally dropped them.  First impressions also mean a lot to Poicephalus!

Poicephalus are playful clowns, and a common behavior among the entire group is their enjoyment of laying on their backs to better be able to play with something they're holding in their claws... Or sometimes, just the claws themselves!  I haven't seen this in as many of my brown heads; I'm not sure if this is true of brown heads in general, or just mine.  They will occasionally play on their backs, but not often, and prefer not to be held on their backs either, though they will tolerate this.  It may also have something to do with the fact that I have more experience with baby brown heads; young brown heads are rather unsure of themselves, and being in this vulnerable position makes them a little nervous.

When it comes to brown heads in comparison to other Poicephalus, brown heads get raving reviews!  The first thing people tend to notice about brown heads are their dull colors; but popular opinion says that with these rather mild colors, goes an exceptionally mild and sweet personality.  Mattie Sue Athan, in her book "Guide to the Senegal Parrot and it's Family", says this: "...Although these birds aren't very flashy, the lack of bright colors seems to accompany a very desirable, mild manner."  She goes on to say, "If, as both science and folklore suggest, the most brightly colored birds are the fastest, most aggressive, or most reactive then surely the brown-headed parrot's plain colors might suggest this bird's reputation as 'calm'."  I also enjoyed reading another quote from this author, from the book "Guide to Companion Parrot Behavior", saying about brown heads that, "They enjoy a reputation, among the few who know them, as more predictable members of a group that is only occasionally unpredictable.  This bird might be the most adaptable member of this generally adaptable group."  By the way, I highly recommend both of the mentioned books to anyone considering a pet Poicephalus parrot!

Perhaps my favorite word when describing brown head personality is "sweet".  Of all my babies, brown heads are probably my favorite to raise (though that's hard to admit, since I love them all!).  They're intelligent and curious and, well, just such sweet babies!  As they get older they retain most of this sweetness, and are basically mild-mannered and gentle.  I say this with a note of reserve, because they're still very much parrots, and still very much Poicephalus; they can still be aggressive or shy to the point of panic, depending on the situation, as well as being rambunctious and demanding.  But they have basically more even temperaments, in general, than the other Poicephalus, and really I think that anyone considering a Poicephalus as a pet should seriously consider a brown head... If they can find one!