The Vasa Parrot is a medium-sized gray parrot that hails from Madagascar. The Vasa Parrot is about the same size as another gray parrot, the African Grey, but the Vasa Parrot’s body shape is much different. Owing to its particularly long neck, smallish head, long legs, long feet and long rectangular tail, the Vasa Parrot is sometimes described as “so ugly its cute.” However, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and the Vasa Parrot has more to offer than simple good looks. Although it has a somewhat awkward appearance and is not as brilliantly colored as some other parrots, this sweet bird’s exceptional personality makes it a wonderful pet. In the birding community, Vasa Parrots are much less common than other species, but interest is rising as word gets out about the Vasa Parrot’s endearing nature.
Common Names: Vasa Parrot, Greater Vasa Parrot (Coracopsis vasa), Lesser Vasa Parrot (Coracopsis nigra)
Scientific Name: Coracopsis vasa, Coracopsis nigra
Adult Size: About 20 inches (17 ounces) long
Life Expectancy: Up to 30 years
Origin and History
The Vasa Parrot is a dark-grey parrot belonging to the Psittacidae family of birds. There are two species of Vasa Parrot: the Greater Vasa Parrot (Coracopsis vasa) and the Lesser Vasa Parrot (Coracopsis nigra). The Lesser Vasa Parrot is also known as the black parrot. Both Vasa Parrot species are found on two island countries off the eastern coast of Africa: Madagascar and the Comoros. The two species prefer different habitats, with the Greater Vasa Parrot living in dry forest areas and the Lesser Vasa Parrot living in humid forest areas.
Vasa Parrots tend to be affectionate, easy-going birds that are friendly with the entire family rather than being one-person birds. Vasa Parrots are intelligent, active, busy and very playful. Female Vasa Parrots might become moody, territorial or aggressive during mating season. A Vasa Parrot should be out of its cage as much as possible so it can play and interact with its human family. As with most parrots, Vasa Parrots demand a great deal of your time and attention in order to be happy. Never ignore or leave a Vasa Parrot alone for extended periods of time.
Speech and Vocalizations
Talkative without being ear piercing, Vasa Parrots are will express themselves with various distinct calls, squawks and whistles. Some Vasa Parrots can learn to speak and some do not speak any words.
Vasa Parrot Colors and Markings
Both male and female Vasa Parrots are a dark-gray color all over with a grayish-black beak. During the mating season in the fall (October to December), a female Vasa Parrot’s feathers transform to a light brown color, and she molts the feathers on her head, going bald. The Vasa Parrot’s skin also turns yellow during the mating season. This happens in both male and female Vasa Parrots, although the color change is more dramatically seen in the female due to the exposed to exposed skin on her bald head. Additionally, the beaks of male and female Vasa Parrots lighten until they are nearly white during mating season.
Caring for the Vasa Parrot
The Vasa Parrot needs a large enclosure. An aviary, flight cage or very large parrot cage, for instance, something suitable for a Macaw, would be great for a Vasa Parrot. At a minimum, a Vasa Parrot should be house in a cage that is at least 36 inches wide by 24 inches deep by 36 inches tall. Include a nesting box large enough for your Vasa Parrot (available at bird specialty stores, pet-supply stores or online) and plenty of perches of various sizes. Because Vasa Parrots love to sun bathe, situate your cage so half is in the sun and half is in the shade.
Vasa Parrots are busy and inquisitive birds. Set up a play gym with lots of toys to keep your Vasa Parrot’s mind and body active and entertained. Foraging activities are a big hit with Vasa Parrots, as are interactive toys, puzzle toys, mechanical toys, chewable toys, and baby toys and rattles, and anything else your Vasa Parrot can investigate and manipulate. Vasa Parrots love to bathe and will jump around and play in the water, so offer frequent bathing opportunities. Vasa Parrots also like to take baths.
Common Health Problems
Although relatively heathy, Vasa Parrots might be prone to developing Psittacine beak and feather disease, which is a viral disease affecting certain parrots and other birds.
Diet and Nutrition
Vasa Parrots are famous for their voracious appetites. These birds will eat enormous amounts of food. Offer a varied diet that includes a high-quality pelleted diet, high-quality seed mix, and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables like bananas, mangos, berries, peaches, pomegranates, peppers, carrots, sprouts, green beans, peas, and sweet potatoes.
Even if you have a large enclosure as is recommended for these parrots, your Vasa Parrot should be out of its enclosure as much as possible to allow for stretching its wings, flying and generally moving around and playing. Vasa Parrots are extremely active birds and will exercise themselves appropriately if given ample opportunity.
Friendly and affectionate
Active and entertaining pets
Enjoys handling and play
Needs a lot of attention and interaction
Needs a large enclosure/space to fly
Rare/hard to find
Where to Adopt or Buy a Vasa Parrot
The Vasa Parrot is rare, although some may be available for sale in pet stores and bird specialty stores. You can also purchase Vasa Parrot from a breeder. As with all bird species, be sure to do adequate research to ensure the breeder you’re looking to buy from is experienced and sells healthy birds raised in a humane environment. If you are interested in adopting a Vasa Parrot, bird rescue groups and even your local animal shelter might have Vasa Parrots available for adoption, although the chances of finding an available rare species like the Vasa Parrot may be slim.
More Pet Bird Species and Further Research
If you like the Vasa Parrot, you might also be interested in the following bird species:
Otherwise, check out all of our other pet bird breeds.