Poicephalus robustus & fuscicollis ........................................ by Gideon Scheepers

The Cape Parrot
Poicephalus robustus


This parrot has been reclassified and is now a species on its own. It is a robust green parrot with the head being brown to yellowish-brown flecked with dark brown and green. The cheeks in some birds are slightly tinged with dull pink. Occasionally they have a narrow red/orange frontal band. They have a short horn-coloured beak and the eye ring is grey with a dark brown iris. The rump, breast and abdomen is tinged with blue. The feathers on wing-coverts are black with broad green edging and the carpel edge of wing and thighs orangey-red. The tail is a blackish-brown.The feet are dark grey. Female is similar to male, but with a narrow orange frontal band.They are 30- 33 cm in length.

Range and Habitat

These birds are only found in South Africa from eastern Cape, Amatola mountain range, Hogsback area extending north to eastern highlands of Mpumalanga. Inhabiting the Yellowwood forests. These birds whole lifestyle revolves around the Yellowwood forests, they eat it, breed in it and roost in them at night.

Status in The wild

These birds are threatened in the wild and all efforts should be made to maintain their habitat. In 2002 there were a total of 634 birds counted in the morning and 476 in the afternoon, on the annual Cape Parrot Big Birding Day held in South Africa.

Reichenow's Grey-headed Parrot
Poicephalus f. fuscicollis


Similar to suahelicus, but the breast, abdomen and back is a turquoise-green, the bill is larger than robustus, the male almost always lacks orange frontal band. Female is similar to male, but with broad orange/pink frontal band. They are 30-33 cm in length.

Range & Habitat

Northern part of Ghana to Gambia and southern part of Senegal in West Africa. Open Savannah forest dwellers.

Kuhl's Grey-headed Parrot
Poicephalus f. suahelicus


Similar to robustus, but head and nape silver-grey in some specimens there is an orange sheen to the cheeks, the breast and abdomen is without the bluish tinge. They have a larger beak than robustus. The female is similar to the male but the frontal band is a broad orange/pink which is slightly washed with a silvery/grey. They are 34 cm in length.



Range & Habitat

They are found from Mozambique, Zimbabwe, northern Botswana and northern Namibia to Angola down to southern Zaire and central Tanzania. They frequent the Savannah open forests, Savannah woodland, mangroves and fruit orchards, they are no longer very common and are already extinct in some areas. They are observed in pairs or small groups of up to 20 birds outside the breeding season. They are pretty noisy and conspicuous while in flight but quiet whilst feeding. They roost in the forest at night and then visit the open country during day, they leave roosting trees before dawn; often gathering in flocks of 50 - 60 birds for the return flight.

Diet in Nature

They eat nuts, seeds, berries and nectar and love to forage in sorghum , maize fields and apple orchards. They have also been observed eating dried pecan nuts. The fruits of the Yellowwood trees (Podocarpus falcatus) are also eaten.

Breeding in Aviculture

Not too difficult once established with more and more aviculturist achieving success with well-bonded pairs. They should be housed in a quiet aviary for breeding and avoid disturbance. Nest boxes of 30 cm x 30 cm x 60 cm have been used with success but L-shaped is preferable. Clutch size is on average 3 to 4 eggs and incubation lasts for 26 to 28 days. Chicks fledge at about 9 to 11 weeks


None known to us at present although there are reports of a dilute suahelicus with a pink/orange head, but I am still trying to track it down.



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