Poicephalus c. cryptoxanthus............................................. By Gideon Scheepers


There are 3 recognized sub-species of the Brown Heads, as they are known in South Africa, Poicephalus c. cryptoxanthus, Poicephalus c. tanganyikae and Poicephalus c. zanzibaricus. All sub-species have most of its plumage green with the head and nape greyish-brown becoming green on upper back. The lower back is a pale green. The underside, breast, abdomen and under tail-coverts are a paler green. The outer webs of the primary flight feathers are blue. They have the upper tail an olive-brown with green edging. The eye ring is grey and the iris is pale yellow. The bill is horn coloured. They become 22-23 cm in length.

Range and Habitat

P.c.cryptoxanthus are found in the northeastern part of South Africa from Kwa Zulu Natal, Mapumalanga, to the eatern part of Northern Province, Swaziland, north into southern Mozambique and southeastern Zimbabwe. P.c. tanganyikae is found mostly in northern Mozambique, southern Malawi, eastern Tanzania and the southeastern tip of Kenya. P.c. zanzibaricus found on the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba. They are usually found in savanah woodlands and semi-forested areas along watercourses. They can usually be seen in pairs and small groups of around 10-15 birds outside breeding season. Can also be seen drinking at water holes and cattle water troughs, sometimes in the company of the Poicephalus f. fuscicollis.

Housing in Aviculture

They can be housed in conventional or suspended aviaries. They breed very well if supplied with natural log nestboxes, 40 cm deep and 25 cm in diameter or boot shaped nestboxes 40cm deep and around 25cm wide. They are very quiet birds and usually the neighbours don't even know they are there.


Breeding in Aviculture

Brown Heads are not difficult to breed , they do however prefer a dark, quiet corner in which to breed. Nest inspections should be kept to the absolute minimum, as they are skittish birds. Breeding can begin any time of year. The average clutch 2 to 4 eggs and incubation lasts 26 days. The female incubates alone, but the male may join her in the nestbox. The young will fledge after about 8 weeks. Two to three clutches are possible per year.

Pet Quality

They make great pets and are not noisy, they are mid sized parrots and will learn to talk. They have a raspy voice, and are typical of Poicephalus parrots. These parrots are not kept as pets in South Africa due to the fact that they are indigenous birds and only selected breeders are issued with permits to keep the wonderful little parrots. I have come across a few that were sold to unsuspecting people as Handreared Senegal parrots as pets.


The only mutations I know of are Pieds, and we have heard reports of a cinnamon in South Africa but this has not been confirmed as yet, if you know of any others please send a photo with a description and some history to Gideon


Although all reasonable efforts have been made by Thomasriver Aviaries to validate the accuracy of the information contained in this site, Thomasriver Aviaries shall not be held responsible for any errors in, amendments to, or any damages arising from information supplied as aforesaid. Thomasriver Aviaries does not give any warranties as to the accuracy and completeness of the information and shall not accept liability whatsoever for the use by any party of such information. No claims whatsoever shall be accepted for any loss or damage arising from reliance on the information by any party. We are not responsible for any bites due to our birds when they are viewed or bought, you take full responsibility when you handle the birds.


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