Great-Billed Parrot Care Sheet

Scientific Facts

Common Name:Great-billed Parrot, Moluccan parrot, island parrot
Scientific Name:Tanygnathus megalorynchos
Life Span:10 to 12 years
Size:16 inches
Habitat:Forest, woodlands, and mangroves
Country of Origin:Southeast Asian islands of Maluku, Talaud, Sangir, Raja Ampat, Sarangani, and Lesser Sundas

Physical Description

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The great-billed parrot or the Moluccan parrot is a medium-sized parrot with an average height of 38 cm. It is a green parrot with a large red bill (hence the name), cream irises, blackish shoulders, pale blue rump, olive-green back, and yellow-green underparts. The males are larger than females, but other than the size, the two genders look similar.

The great-billed parrot is very common in the pet trade is found widespread and fairly common in its natural habitat. It has been classified as a species of least concern on the IUCN Red List.


The great-billed parrot is a burst of lively colors. Just one look at this bird, and you can tell that it is exotic. The main body is green with varying shades and gradients. The body is usually darker green while the back, belly, and neck are lighter. The wings are of different colors, such as blue, green, and yellow. The large beaks are striking red while the large eyes are cream-colored. The feet can be gray to black in color. The tail is long and is mostly green, just like its body.


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There are five subspecies of the Great-billed parrot:

  • T. m. megalorhynchus – from Sulawesi and nearby islands to the west Papuan islands
  • T. m. affifnis – from the south Maluku Islands
  • T. m. sumbensis – from Sumba or the east of the Lesser Sunda Islands
  • T. m. hellmayri – from Rote Island, Semau, and along the southwest part of Timor.
  • T. m. susbaffinis – from Babar and Tanimbar Islands.


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In captivity, the great-billed parrot can live from 12 to 20 years. It is believed that the great-billed parrot may live shorter in the wild due to changes in its natural habitat.

Natural Habitat

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The great-billed parrot is found in a small area in southeast Asia in the waters nearest to Indonesia. This parrot is very common in the many islands in Indonesia like the Sundas, Maluku, Sangir and Talaud islands.

Great-billed parrots like in the small islands and usually large groups of the species can travel from one island to another in search of more food. These live in mangroves, forests, coastal woodlands and plantations. It is easy to spot great-billed parrots in these tropical areas, and because of its number, it is not classified as an endangered species. These can become pets and cared for in captivity.

Perception and Communication

Not all parrots can mimic noise and human speech. Some parrots are quiet and are not vocal, like other parrot species. The great-billed parrot is one of these. It does not express itself in a vocal matter but may have some natural calls which are usually moderate in sound and rarely heard during the day time.

But with patience and training, a great-billed parrot can repeat a few worlds. This parrot may also start to repeat the human voice in a funny way. 


To get to know a great-billed parrot better, you must consider understanding some of its unique behaviors:

  • Friendly and calm birds

The great-billed parrot is a friendly, peaceful bird and can be kept in a large enclosure with other birds or parrot species. It won’t mind sharing its cage and will love to stay out of its cage to bond with their owners.

It’s important to handle your pet great-billed parrot early so it can develop trust and will be used to your manner of handling.

  • Loves to listen to music and dance

The great-billed parrot will love to listen to music, any kind of music, and will try to dance. It will sway its body and head from left to right, which is a sign that it enjoys the sound. You can place its cage near some stereo speakers and play soothing or fun music. It may even mimic some words in the song.

  • Should have plenty of human interaction

You need to care for a great-billed parrot like you would a cat or dog. It will love to be petted and will tolerate scratches and pats on the head and belly. You may also personally teach it some words. Wear thick gloves when handling this bird to avoid being scratched by its large and sharp claws.      

  • Must have toys and stimulating activities

To keep this parrot happy and contented, place toys inside its cage. Toys that move make sounds and toys that are brightly-colored are welcome. The parrot will play with this by holding them, smelling, and bitting them a little. Remove chipped, damaged toys because the parrot can easily remove this and chew on the broken parts.  

  • Can move from island to island

A great-billed parrot can move from island to island in search of a new place to live. It may do this in large numbers. There are many reasons why this parrot migrates; it could be due to habitat destruction, pollution, or scarcity of food.

  • Can recognize owners

Great-billed parrots are very intelligent and can recognize their owners really well. They can relax in their handler’s hands but maybe fussy when handled by a stranger. This parrot also prefers to be where their owners are and will be happy to accept a stroke on the head and the body.

  • Will pluck its feathers

Some parrot species are susceptible to stress, and this can be due to many factors, including a small cage. If a bird becomes stressed, it could pluck its feathers.

  • Prefers quiet companions

The great-billed parrot is more of a quiet companion than a noisy bird. It can’t be housed with a macaw or Amazon and is not good with screaming children or very loud noises. 

Food and Diet

The great-billed parrot’s diet is mainly fruits, and it’s usually a feast for several parrots as they eat the fruits of different trees. However, their diets may also include different types of seeds, crops, and even smaller insects.

To create a balanced diet, feed your great-billed parrot with commercial seed mixes specially made for parrots. The ingredients found in these products include nuts, sunflower seeds, oats, millet, and many more. A large part of their daily diet has to come from fruits. You can feed your parrot small chunks of bananas, oranges, apples, pears, and coconuts. These parrots may also eat vegetables.

Great-billed parrots will drink plenty of water, so place a small pan of water where it could drink. Replace the water twice a day. The feeding and water dish of a great-billed parrot may be made of strong plastic and attached to the cage. It has to be installed higher than the ground because the parrot can simply dip its large head and beak to eat or drink.

Environment and Housing

Great-billed parrots can grow as much as 16 inches, so it’s best to keep it in a large cage or enclosure. The cage should be strong, made of metal with a large door to allow you to take the parrot in and out with ease. The door should be secured with a lock, and this should be kept closed at all times.

This parrot species will love to have some sturdy branches where it can hang from. Choose natural plants to serve as perches and areas where it can sleep or play. Choose trees that are common from their natural environment, as well.

The great-billed parrot will also need a water basin and a large container for its food. Remember that the container should have a wide mouth so that the parrot can easily get its food. Some parrot owners hang the parrot cages from the ceiling while some prefer to place it on a sturdy table or base. But no matter what, the cage must be away from direct sunlight and rain.

The cage may have a bedding of coconut husks or bark or wood shavings. This will absorb urine and will also be easy to remove when maintaining the tank. You may also use newspapers, paper towels, or brown paper, so cleanup will be easy. 

Health and Common Issues

The great-billed parrot is a healthy and hardy breed but may also suffer from common health issues.

  • Parrot fever or psittacosis in birds

This is an infectious disease that is common in most species of birds. This is spread through contact with dust and droppings. Symptoms to watch out for are difficulty in breathing, watery and green droppings, discharge coming from the eyes and nose, poor appetite, and lethargy.

Parrot fever should be treated right away since this is contagious to humans with symptoms similar to the common flu.

  • Avian polyomavirus in birds

This is an infectious disease that occurs in mammals and birds. It is deadly and may affect young birds. This is passed on to other birds through droppings and touching infected birds. Symptoms are the swollen abdomen, poor appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, and dehydration. There is a vaccination against avian polyomavirus. This can be spread to humans.

  • Pacheco’s disease in birds

This is a fatal viral disease caused by a type of herpes virus. It is spread through contact with infected droppings and nasal discharge. The virus can be dormant in a parrot and can be activated when in stress. Stressful situations include moving, loss of a mate, and breeding. Symptoms include tremors, sinusitis, lethargy, anorexia, green-colored droppings, and even sudden death. Prevent this by placing suspected birds in quarantine. This is not contagious to humans.

  • Giardia in birds

This is a parasitic infection that may be passed on from one infected bird to another through cysts that are found in the bird’s feces. The most common cause is unclean water supply. Symptoms of giardia include diarrhea, weight loss, dry and itchy skin, depression, and bulky stool. The pet parrot should be taken to the vet immediately. Giardia can be passed on to humans if they drink from the same water supply as birds.  

  • Malnutrition

Parrots that receive an imbalanced diet or don’t get nutrients from their diet may suffer from malnutrition. Any of the mentioned illnesses may also contribute to malnutrition. Signs of malnutrition include feather stress bars and dark feather colors. Make sure that your parrot is getting enough sunlight, especially when their cage is indoors. If this is so, use artificial birdcage lighting.

To prevent malnutrition, be very careful in changing the bird’s diet. Sometimes, birds will refuse to eat new food and may starve themselves. It’s important to take your parrot to a vet to examine it for malnutrition after a change in its diet.

  • Other parrot symptoms to watch out for

Aside from the five mentioned common health conditions, be wary of the following symptoms: a strange appearance or stance like excessive plucking of feathers, trembling, walking in circles, loss of balance, hanging with its beak, etc. changes in behavior or attitude and other physical changes. Any change in the bird’s droppings, head appearance, and shape, feathers, legs and feet, breathing, eating, and drinking should be reported to a vet immediately.

Preventive Care

These Great-billed Parrots should have a complete physical examination once every 6 to 12 months. You may want to consult an avian veterinarian who is experienced dealing with bird conditions and illnesses. If you have concerns or issues about the health of your bird, don’t hesitate to consult a vet.

It is also important that your pets go through annual fecal examination for possible yeast, parasites, and bacteria infestation. Your veterinarian may recommend vaccination for polyomavirus and routine blood testing.

Parrots also need to have some nail and wing trimming as needed, and only an avian vet can help get these done with ease. Also, maintain your bird’s cage regularly. Remove droppings, wash the cage thoroughly with a safe cleaning product, and clean the feeding and drinking dishes as well. Doing so will help prevent the spread of illnesses and many health conditions in birds.

Availability – Where to Get One?

African Great-billed Parrots are usually available for sale from a breeder, or an avian-specialty store. You can purchase these from online pet stores, as well. The price for a great-billed parrot online is from $1000 to $1200 depending on the gender, age, and feather color. This is one of the most expensive birds sold when shipping and delivery costs are considered.

Great-billed parrots sare also available at times for adoption from some bird adoption or rescue organizations that help birds find new loving homes.

How to Care for a Great-billed Parrot?

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Remember that Great-billed Parrots are not mammals or chickens. These have distinct physiology with some unique requirements. Aside from the medical attention that they need, it is also important to be willing to commit to at least four hours every day for cage maintenance, contact, and interaction. This requirement for care is a necessity. Doing so will help in maintaining their good mental and physical condition.

House your pet an appropriately sized cage that is comfortable and safe. The cage should be big enough to allow your bird to spread his or her wings without contacting the cage bars. It should also have natural branch perches and some shreddable toys like paper-stuffed toys, woven mat toys, and similar items.

Handle or hold your pet regularly. This will help create a close bond between you and your pet. Handle it with care and perch it on your arm and shoulders. Use a glove to hold it to protect your hands from sharp claws.

Be careful when it comes to feeding your pet. Feed it appropriate and safe food. Organic produce is always the best. Create a fixed feeding schedule and don’t feed it whenever you like to avoid obesity and other related illnesses. Always have clean water inside the cage and change this at least twice daily.

FAQ Section

What do great-billed parrots eat?

A great-billed parrot will eat fruits and vegetables. In the wild, these parrots will eat fruits from the tree where they are perched.

Is a great-billed parrot a good first pet?

Due to the great-billed parrot’s affectionate nature and their ease of care, this may be a good first bird pet for someone who has never cared for a pet bird before.

Can you take a great-billed parrot out of its cage?

Yes, you can take a great-billed parrot out of its cage provided it is tied to a branch or inside a room with closed windows and doors.

Can you bath a great-billed parrot?

Yes, you can use a spray bottle or a hose set to sprinkle mode. Just place it over the head of the bird-like a shower, or you can hold the bird’s wings and spray through. Don’t use shampoo or soap; just water will do.

How do you feed a great-billed parrot?

Place the food inside its food dish or container. The parrot will simply take the food with its large beak. It’s to use an open dish or a feeding container with a large mouth so the parrot can easily reach in for food.

Where does great-billed parrot live in the wild?

Great-billed parrots live in the islands in the pacific. This lives in groups and large populations.

Are great-billed parrots territorial?

No, great-billed parrots are not territorial and will never fight over territory with other females and males. This parrot can be housed with other birds as long as these are quiet birds like itself.

Can you house two or more great-billed parrots together?

Yes, but make sure that the cage of your great-billed parrots is large and will fit two parrots.

Can you pet a great-billed parrot?

Yes, great-billed parrots are known to appreciate pats, scratches, and even a kiss on the bill. This bird recognizes its owner and may even follow him around.

Are great-billed parrots affectionate?

Yes, great-billed parrots are known to give back the affection that their owners show to them by resting on the shoulders of their owners.

Do great-billed parrots need sunlight?

Yes, a great-billed parrot needs sunlight, and if this is not met, it may suffer from certain health conditions.

Can you place the cage of a great-billed parrot outdoors?

Yes, you can place the cage of a great-billed parrot outdoors but not under direct sunlight and should be shielded from the rain.

Can you get sick when handling a great-billed parrot?

Some health conditions can be passed on from birds to humans, so be very careful about this. Has your bird screened and vaccinated against these diseases?

Can a great-billed parrot talk?

This is a quiet kind of parrot but may still talk if it wants to.

Can a great-billed parrot sing?

A great-billed parrot can sing and even enjoy music. Some owners have seen their parrots swaying and dancing to the beat of sound.

How to train a great-billed parrot to talk and sing?

You can train a great-billed parrot by exposing this to music or by singing to it. You can place this near a stereo system so it can listen to music daily.

Will a great-billed parrot bite?

No, a great-billed parrot won’t bite. It can nip at things or other birds inside the cage

Can a great-billed parrot fly?

A great-billed parrot can fly. Many great-billed parrots will fly from one place to another in search of new places to eat and breed.

How to prevent a great-billed parrot from flying away?

You must keep a great-billed parrot inside its cage to prevent it from flying away. If you want it to remain perched outdoors, tie it on the branch from its leg.

Where to find an avian vet?

You can find an avian vet by searching for a local specialist using Google. You can also ask around for recommendations.

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