Jaco parrot - A favorite poultry for many. He has the unique abilities that distinguish him from most of his relatives. The modest coloring of the feathers is compensated by the skillful imitation of human speech and sounds made by many birds.
Jaco learns over a hundred words and phrases. However, even the healthiest and happiest pet creates a fair amount of clutter and noise. There is evidence that Jacques were kept as pets by the ancient Greeks, the rich Romans, and even King Henry VIII and the Portuguese sailors.
Origin of view and description
Photo: Zhkao Parrot
Gray Parrot or Jaco (Psittacus) is a genus of African parrot in the subfamily Psittacinae. It contains two species: the red-tailed parrot (P. erithacus) and the brown-tailed parrot (P. timneh).
Interesting fact: For many years, two species of Jaco parrot were classified as subspecies of the same species. However, in 2012, BirdLife International recognized the taxa as separate species based on genetic, morphological, and vocal differences in the international organization for the protection of birds and their habitat.
Jacot parrots are found in the primary and secondary tropical forests of West and Central Africa. This is one of the smartest bird species in the world. The tendency to imitate speech and other sounds made Jacques popular pets. The Jaco parrot is important to the African Yoruba people. Its feathers and tail are used to create masks that are worn during a religious and social holiday in Geleda.
The first recorded mention of an African parrot by a Jacquot by Westerners occurred in 1402, when France occupied the Canary Islands, where this species was introduced from Africa. As Portugal's trade relations with West Africa developed, more and more birds were caught and kept as pets. The figures of the gray parrot appear in the paintings of Peter Rubens in 1629/30, Ian Davids de Jim in 1640-50 and Ian Steen 1663-65.
Appearance and features
Photo: Talking Jaco Parrot
There are two types:
- Jacquot red-tailed parrot (P. erithacus): This is a dominant species, larger than the brown-tailed parrot, its length is about 33 cm. The bird has light gray feathers, a completely black beak and a cherry-red tail. Young birds have darker, dimmer tails at the end until the first molt, which occurs at the age of 18 months. These birds also initially have a gray iris, which changes color to pale yellow by the time the bird is one year old;
- the jaco parrot (P. timneh) is slightly smaller than the red-tailed parrot, but the mind and speaking ability remain comparable. They can vary from 22 to 28 cm in total length and are considered medium-sized parrots. The brown tail has a darker coal-gray color, a darker burgundy tail and a light area in the form of a horn to the part of the upper jaw. It is endemic to its range.
Brown-tailed Jacques usually begin to learn to speak earlier than Red-tailed Jacques, as the growing period is faster. These parrots have a reputation for being less nervous and susceptible, unlike the Red Tail.
Jacques can learn to speak during the first year, but many do not pronounce their first word until 12-18 months. Both subspecies seem to have the same ability and tendency to reproduce human speech, but vocal abilities and inclination can vary widely among individual birds. Gray parrots tend to use more specific appeals for different species. The most famous Jaco parrot is Nkisi, whose vocabulary was over 950 words, and he was also known for his creative use of the language.
Interesting fact: Some experts ornithologists recognize the third and fourth species, but they are poorly distinguishable in scientific research of DNA.
Where does the jaco parrot live?
Photo: Jaco parrot
Habitats of African gray parrots cover the forest belt of Central and West Africa, including the oceanic islands of Principe and Bioko (Gulf of Guinea), where they live in mountain forests at an altitude of up to 1900 m. In West Africa, they are found in coastal countries.
The Jaco habitat includes the following countries:
- Cote d'Ivoire;
- Sierra Leone;
Two well-known subspecies of African gray parrots have different ranges of residence. Psittacus Erithacus erithicus (Red-tailed Jaco) inhabits the range from Kenya to the eastern border of the Ivory Coast, including island populations. Psittacus Erithacus Timneh (Brown Tailed Jacquot) ranges from the eastern border of Côte d'Ivoire to Guinea-Bissau.
The habitat of African parrots of the Jaco is moist flat forests, although they are also found at an altitude of up to 2200 m in the eastern part of the range. They are usually observed at the edges of the forest, in glades, in gallery forests, mangroves, wooded savannahs, in cultivated areas and gardens.
Zhako parrots often visit open lands adjacent to forests, they live on trees above the water and prefer to spend the night on river islands. They nest in the hollows of trees, sometimes choosing places left by birds. In West Africa, this species makes seasonal movements in the dry season.
What does the parrot eat?
Photo: Red-Book Jaco Parrot
African gray parrots are herbivores. In the wild, they master a complex set of skills. Jaco learns to separate food plants from toxic ones, how to find safe water and how to reunite with their families when they are separated. They eat mostly different fruits, preferring an oil palm (Elaeis guinensis).
In the wild, jaco can eat the following foods:
- leaf greenery;
- juicy shoots;
Feeding areas, as a rule, are removed at a considerable distance and are located on elevated plains. Often birds raid fields with unripened corn, which causes anger among the owners of the field. They fly from tree to tree, trying to find more ripe fruits and nuts. Jacques prefer to climb branches rather than fly.
Interesting fact: In captivity, a bird can eat bird pellets, various fruits, such as pear, orange, pomegranate, apple and banana, and vegetables, such as carrots, boiled sweet potatoes, celery, cucumbers, fresh cabbage, peas and green beans. In addition, Jaco needs a source of calcium.
Zhako parrots partially feed on the ground, so there are a number of behavioral skills that birds do before planting and safe food consumption. Groups of parrots gather at a barren tree until it is completely filled with hundreds of birds that brush their feathers, climb on branches, make sounds and communicate. Then the birds descend to the ground in waves. The whole group never ends up on earth at the same time. Once on the ground, they are extremely alert, reacting to any movement or sound.
Now you know what a parrot eats, so let's see how it lives in a natural environment.
Features of character and lifestyle
Photo: Jacques domestic parrot
Wild African Jaco parrots are very shy and rarely allow people to get close to them. They are social birds and nest in large groups. They are often seen in noisy flocks screaming loudly in the mornings, evenings and in flight. Flocks consist only of gray parrots, unlike other parrot species that are found in mixed flocks. During the day, they break into small groups and fly long distances to get food.
Jacques live on trees above water and prefer to spend the night on river islands. Young birds remain in their family groups for a long period of time, up to several years. They communicate with other individuals of their age in children's trees, but adhere to their family flock. Young parrots are cared for by older birds, until they become educated and old enough to start living independently.
Interesting fact: Young zhakos show respectful behavior towards older members of the pack. They learn how to behave in different situations, such as competition and protection of nesting sites and raising offspring. Competition for nests during the mating season makes the species extremely aggressive.
Birds go to sleep at dusk and even in the dark. They overcome their path along the laid routes, making a quick and direct flight, often flapping their wings. Previously, sleeping flocks were huge, often numbering up to 10,000 parrots. Early in the morning, before sunrise, small flocks leave the place of spending the night and screaming and go for feeding.
Social structure and reproduction
Photo: Jaco Parrot
African Jaco parrots are very social birds. Reproduction occurs in free colonies, each pair occupies its own tree. Individuals are carefully selected spouses and have a lifelong monogamous relationship that begins during puberty, from the age of three to five years. Little is known about courtship in the wild, but observation flights around nests have been seen and recorded.
Interesting fact: Males feed their companion (maternal feeding) and both produce soft monotonous sounds. At this time, the female will sleep in the nest, and the male will guard him. In captivity, males feed the females after copulation, and both sexes participate in the mating dance, in which they lower their wings.
The breeding season varies depending on the area, but seems to coincide with the dry season. African gray parrots breed one to two times a year. Females lay three to five rounded eggs, one at an interval of 2 to 5 days. Females incubate eggs, and are fully fed by the food brought by the male. Incubation takes about thirty days. Chicks emerge from the nest at the age of twelve weeks.
After the young chicks leave the nest, both parents continue to feed, raise and protect them. They take care of their offspring for several years until they become independent. Life expectancy is 40 to 50 years. In captivity, African gray parrots have an average life expectancy of 45 years, but can live up to 60 years. In the wild - 22.7 years.
Natural enemies of the Jaco parrots
Photo: Jaco Parrot
In nature, gray parrots have few enemies. The main damage they receive from a person. Previously, local tribes killed birds for meat. Residents of West Africa believed in the magical properties of red feathers, so Jaco was also destroyed for feathers. In the future, parrots began to be caught for sale. Jaco are secretive, cautious birds, so it is difficult to catch an adult. Aborigines willingly caught fledglings in the net for income.
A palm eagle or vulture (Gypohierax angolensis) is considered the enemy of Jaco. The diet of this predator is mainly composed of oil palm fruits. Perhaps the aggressive behavior of the eagle in relation to zhako is of competitive importance because of the feed. One can observe how gray parrots panically fly apart in different directions, attacked by an eagle. This was probably the protection of the food area by the eagle.
Natural predators for this species include:
- palm eagle;
Adult birds teach their offspring how to protect the territory, how to recognize and avoid predators. Eating on land, African gray parrots are vulnerable to terrestrial predators. Monkeys hunt for eggs and young chicks in the nest. Several species of hawks also prey on chicks and adults. It was found that gray parrots in captivity are susceptible to fungal infections, bacterial infections, malignant tumors, diseases of the beak and feathers, can become infected with tapeworms and worms.
Population and species status
Photo: Jaco Parrot
A recent analysis of the Jaco populations revealed the depressing position of the bird in the wild. Up to 21% of the global population is caught annually. Unfortunately, there is no law prohibiting the capture and trade of parrots. In addition, habitat destruction, indiscriminate use of pesticides, and hunting by local people influence the numbers of these birds. The wild bird trap is the main reason for the decline in the population of wild African gray parrots.
An interesting fact: Estimates of the total number of wild Jaco populations at the beginning of the 21st century ranged up to 13 million, although accurate surveys were not possible because parrots live in isolated, often politically unstable regions.
Jaco species is endemic to the primary and secondary tropical forests of West and Central Africa. These parrots depend on large, old trees with natural hollows that are used by Jaco for nesting. Studies in Guinea and Guinea-Bissau have shown that the relationship between the status of the species and the state of the primary forest is proportionate, where forests are reduced, the same thing happens with populations of gray parrots.
In addition, Jaco is one of the hyper-selling bird species registered in CITES. In response to continued downsizing, exceeding catch quotas, and unsustainable and illegal trade, CITES included the Gray Parrot in phase VI of the CITES Essential Trade Survey 2004. This review led to the recommended zero export quotas for some range countries and the decision to develop regional species management plans.
Jaco parrot guard
Photo: Red-Book Jaco Parrot
A 2003 study by the United Nations Environment Program found that between 1982 and 2001, some 660,000 parrot parrots were sold on the international market. Extrapolation has shown that more than 300,000 birds died during capture or transport.
The import of wild-caught specimens into the United States was banned in 1992 under the Wild Bird Conservation Act. The European Union banned the import of wild-caught birds in 2007. However, there were significant markets for the trade in African Jaco in the Middle East, East Asia, and Africa itself.
Interesting fact: The gray parrot is listed in Appendix II to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). It is required that the export be accompanied by a permit issued by the national authority and that it is concluded that the export is not harmful to species in the wild.
Jaco parrot rarer than previously thought. It has been moved from the list with the least dangerous species for extinction, to the list that is endangered in the 2007 IUCN Red List. A recent analysis suggests that up to 21% of the birds are annually taken out of the wild, mainly for trade in domestic animals. In 2012, the International Union for Conservation of Nature further upgraded the status of Jaco to the level of vulnerable animals.