Coracopsis Nigra
 
English: Black Parrot 
Latin: Coracopsis Nigra 
Dutch: Kleine Vasa Papegaai 
French: Petit Vasa 
German: Schwartzerpapagei
wild variation 
CITES II/C2 
ringsize: 9 mm 
length: 35 cm 
Madagascar
 
Distribution
Black Parrots are native to the island of Madagascar; the last two below-mentioned subspecies inhabit Praslin and the Comoro islands.

Subspecies

Particulars
Black Parrots are unique in the parrot world. They differ from all other psittacine species by their blackish, greyish-brown plumage, which is not really spectacular compared to other brightly coloured parrots and parakeets in my collection.  Black parrots also have a longer neck, a smaller head and the coloration of their bill changes.  They have an amazingly short brooding period, the chicks grow rapidly, they are swift flyers, create melodious calling patterns etc. In short, they are the most ugly yet the most intriguing birds to observe.

Breeding
In 1976 a certain Mr. Winner was the first to successfully breed this species.  Since 1985 the London Chester Zoo has obtained successful breeding results in a colony system.  Inspired by the Chester zoo’s results, a well-known English breeder (Harry Sissen) succeeded in obtaining the same breeding results in the early nineties.  Now and then we can even find large and small Black Parrots in fanciers’ collections.  Black Parrots are extremely swift flyers and require an aviary as large as possible.  An aviary of 13 ft long is certainly a minimum space requirement for one pair. When you let them breed in colonies you need an aviary of about 50 ft long, 10 ft wide and 6.5 ft high, where you can house for example two females and several males.  Usually, the most dominant female will mate with several males and brood afterwards. The other males will help feed the female in order to raise the chicks as quickly as possible.
These black pigeon-like birds can reach an age of 50 years and that is probably why they only start breeding from the age of 6 or 7 years.  In springtime, when the first warm rays of sun appear, they start sunbathing.  They do this in various ways; sometimes while they are hanging from their perch with their tail proudly raised, spread like a fan to absorb every ray of sun; or sometimes while they are lying on their back in the warm sand with spread wings and tail. This could explain how their muddy greyish black bill coloration changes into a pale horn-coloured shade a few weeks later.  Also their plumage gets a reflective green shade which makes them look greyer.
 
 
During the summer, the females rarely feed themselves, but are mainly fed by the male, which does this with an enormous velocity.  With a huge bow of the head the male taps its bill against the female’s bill, which is sitting crouched down on the perch.  Then the male passes the food on to the female bit by bit in a regular pace until the female chases him off.  Black parrots are late brooders and in July you will notice how particularly the female gets a crest; her head feathers are constantly raised.  The male is constantly rattled and when the birds are sufficiently warmed by the many hours of sunbathing they will start mating.  The abdomens will swell and (mostly in the males) the cloaca will invert.    Copulation occurs sideways before the male makes spinning and head shaking movements.  The cloacae intertwine with each other during a considerable amount of time, while the female produces soft tweeting noises.
Black Parrots rarely inspect and prepare their nest box before they start brooding.  One large, natural nest box suffices in which they usually lay 3 to 5 eggs.  The amount of time between the laying of the eggs is not exactly two days, but normally varies with intervals of 3 to 4 days.  The incubation period of each egg is about 14 to 16 days, which is unbelievably short compared to all other bird species.  Black Parrots do have their own particular smell, but especially during the brooding period the nest produces a strong musky scent.  While the female is brooding, the male’s cloaca will stay inverted.
The fluffy chicks will grow very fast, since their dad works very hard each day to feed their mum in time or else he’s in trouble.  The nesting period takes about 40 to 45 days.  Alternately, the male will now feed the chicks directly.  In the brooding period, the female’s skin beneath the bill turns yellow. With females of the large Black Parrot, this yellow skin ranges up to their entire head.
Raising chicks is a lovely sight, but some people still find them ugly birds.

Diet
Black Parrots feed on a basic seed mixture, of which they particularly enjoy sunflower seeds, safflower seeds and buckwheat.  Wheat and oat are not digested.  They are particularly fond of vegetables and fruit.  The vegetable mixture consists of chopped carrots, red beets, beans, sweet peppers, Chilli peppers, cabbage leafs etc.  These vegetables are prepared beforehand and freezed in order to be able to feed them on this throughout the whole year.
Half-ripe corncobs are provided alternately with the vegetable and fruit mixture.
The fruit mixture mainly consists of sweet apples, blackberries, currants, raspberries and rose hips. During the brooding period I also give them soaked pigeon feed mixed with breadcrumbs and two basic egg foods.


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