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The Greater Vasa Parrot
(Sorry, Vasa Parrots are currently not available for sale)

photo by Gail J. Worth

Is this a modern-day dinosaur ?

Imagine 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, these
crow/pigeon/dinosaur-like 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.)

Cloacal 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.
Baby Vasas are long, leggy and resemble Australian Parrakeets rather than other African parrots. Interestingly, theyhatch with rather large upper mandibles that have prominent round 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.

Vasas 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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Frequently Asked Questions About Vasa Parrots

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