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Flock Dynamics and Cape Parrots

Expert Question

Hi EB, I was considering adding a female Cape Parrot to my flock. She’s about 1 year old now and I’ve known her as long as she could see. She’s very socialized but has never met any of my birds: 2 male Quakers 4 & 5 years old and a male Sun Conure 3 years old. They all get along in a common aviary and play area.

Would this Poicephalus wreck the balance of our happy home? And, I have not found the life expectancy in captivity of a Cape Parrot, and that’s very important to me as I do not wish my birds to outlive my love. Thank you so much for your help.

Expert Answer

Dear Kit, That is a very difficult question. Flock dynamics depend on so many things. For example, how protective of their home cage are your three male conure/quakers? These birds can be protective of their territory, especially in threes which constitutes a sort of birdie “gang.”

More to the point, it is never a good idea to acquire a new parrot and then place it in a cage with bird or birds already in the home. All sorts of things can go wrong until you are sure the birds get along—bit toes, competition at the food dishes, stress. An extra cage is essential.

As to cape parrots and other birds. We have had many capes here since first getting into the species in 1994. To a bird, they do not like other parrots (sometimes even their own kind if not raised correctly). Capes are one of the most jealous psittacines we have discovered, right up there with hawkheads and some large lories. Our cape young babies get along okay with others in the house, and if raised into an environment where other birds already are living. Capes are one of the few full sized parrots we have encountered that will go after budgerigars in their cage!

Without knowing the birds and seeing your home, I would give it a 20% chance of success to bring in a cape parrot and expect it to get along in a cage with strange birds. Still, you never know if you had two cages and went very slowly. What about a trial meeting between your birds and she…?

A healthy, active cape parrot should live to be 35 or more.

I would also like to add that there is never any guarantee that any of us keepers will outlive our flock. Some sun conures can live into their 30s and human life can be frail also! There is plenty of parrot love in this world to take care of pets that are left behind if any of us die. It only takes planning ahead and getting the right people or organization in your will so that you need not worry yourself about such time frames.

With aloha, EB

EB Cravens
About EB Cravens

“If we TRULY believe our captive-raised hookbills are important to world parrot conservation, we must work ceaselessly to ensure that these same psittacines retain as much of their wild instinctual behavior as is possible,” affirms avicultural writer and hobby breeder EB Cravens, from his small organic farm on the slopes of the Big Island Hawaii.

“Our goal is to birth and raise only a few baby parrots who know that they are parrots, but choose to befriend humans, because humans are nice to them… feed them… and are fun to be with!”

EB has bred, trained, raised, kept and rehabilitated more than 75 species of psittacines during the past twenty plus years both at his home and while managing the notable exotic bird shoppe, Feathered Friends of Santa Fe, New Mexico. His emphasis on natural environments for birds, the urging of babies to fully fledge during the extended weaning process, and the leaving of chicks for many weeks inside the nest box with their parents in order that they may learn the many intangibles of their species, have succeeded in changing for the better the lives of so many captive parrots.

A science writer by training, he was for years a regular contributor for AFA’s Watchbird Magazine and the Companion Parrot Quarterly. EB currently writes a monthly column entitled “The Complete Psittacine” in PARROTS Magazine out of England; and another, “The Hookbill Hobbyist” down under in the well-regarded Australian Birdkeeper. His monthly series of articles “Birdkeeping Naturally,” is sent out to bird clubs and individuals around the U.S.

“As devastating pressures continue upon avian species in the wilds,” he says, “it is critical that those keeping birds in captivity do so with responsibility and foresight.”