a parrot that hatches in only 18 days after the egg is laid, loses
the head and facial feathers when in the breeding cycle, and can
change feather coloring without molting!
The Greater Vasa Parrot (Coracopsis vasa) is one of the most unusual
parrots in the world. From Madagascar and surrounding islands,
birds, are of great interest to both the aviculturalist and the
pet bird owner.
Greater Vasas are approximately 20" long. Theplumage is a
brownish black with a gray tinge to the wings. Though mostly a
very quiet bird, Vasas can become more vocal during the 3 to 4
month breeding period. As the breeding season approaches the feathers
of the female will change from gray to a light brown. I believe
this is possibly due to a chemical change in the oil which is
secreted from the oil gland used in preening. At this time her
head and facial feathers will molt and the skin on the face will
be a yellow-orange color. (see images below of a pair in breeding
condition, 6/06; Note the hen's skin color and loss of feathers;
this is NORMAL for a hen in breeding condition.)
enlargement is visible in both birds at this time. Unlike some
species of parrots where it is more common to have an aggressive
male, it is the female who is the more dangerous of the two. She
is very demanding of her mate, expecting his full attention. This
means being fed and mated with upon demand. If the male is disinterested
she will chase him relentlessly until he gives in, feeds her and
flies off. Serious cases of mate trauma have been observed in
breeding pairs. To ease the tension and help prevent this aggression,
some aviculturalists will house two males to one female. We have
also experienced success in managing the aggression by offering
two nest boxes, one at either end of the aviary and separating
pairs during the non-breeding season. The act of mating is unlike
any other parrot species. The male mounts the female in the normal
fashion, as well as side by side mating. What is unique and somewhat
reptilian, is that the male has a hemi-penis that protrudes at this time
and the pair will actually lock together. This locked behavior
has been observed both in the nest box as well as on the perch.
Normal clutch size for the Greater Vasa is 2-3 eggs. Also reptilian
and unique to this bird is their incubation method. Pairs have
been known to bury their eggs and chicks in the nesting materials
in their nest box. Normal incubation is a short 18 days, with
the young fledging the nest in only 7 weeks. In artificial incubation
and hand rearing, babies wean and are independent in 10 weeks.
are long, leggy and resemble Australian Parrakeets rather than
other African parrots. Interestingly, theyhatch with rather large
upper mandibles that have prominentround feeding pads located at the tip of the
mandible instead of the base.They are extremely vigorous eaters.
Hand-feeding these guys is no easy task as their feeding response
is rather an aggressive one.
will eat a varied diet consisting of pellets, seeds, mixed nuts
and fruit and vegetables. The Vasa Parrot is the only parrot we've
seen that will take a dirt bath, a sun bath, or a water bath!
Youngsters kept separately have shown excellent pet quality. Reports
of juveniles talking is not uncommon.
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