Introduction

This site is dedicated to our baby Thor (the Thunderbird). There is very little information available about Cape Parrots. They are quite rare both in the wild and in captivity. We hope to gather as much information about Cape Parrots as possible, especially Capes in captivity. Very few were imported prior to the The Wild Bird Conservation Act (WBCA) of 1992 import ban. At last count (2000) there were 396 members of the nominate race left in the wild, and very few in captivity. The two subspecies are doing a little better mostly due to captive breeding programs; still, there are estimated to be only 50 breeding pairs in the United States. In the wild, all three members of the Cape family are in decline.

In captivity Cape Parrots are often referred to as the “Gentle Giants”, they are an extremely intelligent medium sized bird. At least as smart as African Greys, Cape Parrots can learn to talk quite well. They have large powerful beaks capable of cracking any nut but at the same time are rarely known to bite. Capes are very affectionate birds and can be very Cockatoo-like in their demands for attention. A large cage and lots of toys are required to keep these smart and active birds entertained. Expected life span is about 40 years.


The Cape family of parrots have recently undergone a taxonomic re-classification. This re-classification has caused quite a bit of confusion. I will attempt to explain it as briefly as possible.

Cape Parrots are all members of the African Poicephalus group of parrots. Until recently the Cape family consisted of three sub-species: the nominate robustus (P.r.r) from South Africa, the suahelicus (P.r.s) from central southern Africa and the fuscicollis (P.r.f) from south western Africa. Most of the Cape Parrots in the U.S. are from the suahelicus sub-species and some are fuscicollis. To my knowledge there are none of the nominate robustus Capes in the U.S.

Under the new re-classification the nominate robustus is now a separate species from the suahelicus and fuscicollis. The robustus (P.r.) is now the only true Cape parrot. The suahelicus and fuscicollis are now called the Grey-Headed Parrot (P.f.s.) and Brown-Necked Parrot (P.f.f.) respectively. The suahelicus and fuscicollis parrots are referred to as the Grey-Headed family of parrots so technically this site is now “Thor’s Grey-Headed Parrot Page”.

OLD NAMES NEW NAMES
CAPE PARROT FAMILY CAPE PARROT FAMILY GREY-HEADED PARROT FAMILY
Cape Parrot (P.r.r)
Poicephalus robustus robustus
Cape Parrot (P.r.)
Poicephalus robustus a.k.a. Brown-Headed Parrot*
Grey-Headed Parrot (P.f.s.)
Poicephalus fuscicollis suahelicus
Cape Parrot (P.r.s)
Poicephalus robustus suahelicus
Brown-Necked Parrot (P.f.f.)
Poicephalus fuscicollis fuscicollis
Cape Parrot (P.r.f.)
Poicephalus robustus fuscicollis
*The Brown-Headed nomenclature is very confusing as there already is a Brown-Headed Parrot (Poicephalus cryptoxanthus) in the Poicephalus group.

We are just started to get used to the new names ourselves so expect to see both the old and new names used for some time to come. We will continue to use the Cape Parrot name to refer to all three species as to do otherwise would be too confusing.

After some discussion with Cape breeders and owners here in the U.S. I have decided to adopt the following naming scheme:

P.r. South African Cape Parrot

P.f.s. Grey-headed Cape Parrot

P.f.f. Brown-necked Cape Parrot

This should allow us to move to the new names while minimizing confusion to those unaware of the change. The scientific names are official while the common names are not so I don’t believe my minor changes break any rules.


Cape Parrot Range Map

Cape Parrot Range Map


Please note that I am NOT a Cape Parrot expert. Many of the people visiting this site are much more knowledgeable of these birds than I. In building this site I am attempting to gather as much information as possible about these relatively unknown birds. In order to keep this site growing I need contributions from everyone who works with these birds.

New information and site changes will be posted in the Forum, please check it frequently. The Forum is also the place where you can contribute to this site instantly, please use it.


This site was first started in March 2000 while we were waiting for our baby Thor to be shipped from his breeder in Austin Texas. We hope you find it interesting and informative.


Parrot Website AwardParrot Palace Award for Avian Excellence


Comments

Comment from Ifsha Buttitta
Time January 27, 2011 at 10:29 pm

Hello:

Can you please provide a quote about the cape parrot, which will appear on the species profiles page of birdchannel.com?

I am a freelance writer currently working on several bird species profiles for Bird Talk magazine’s website (birdchannel.com) and am looking for avian experts who would like to get their name on the website as well as images of particular bird species.

If you have a photo of this species you’d like to share as well, that would be great.

The quote would be one sentence – a quick description of the bird’s personality traits or what makes this species unique. You get direct attribution for any quotes.

Thank you so much and I look forward to hearing from you!

Sincerely,

Ifsha Buttitta
661.288.1425

Comment from Craig (Thor’s Dad)
Time January 28, 2011 at 1:30 pm

Ifsha, I emailed you a sentence and photos. I’m not much of a writer and summing these wonderful creatures in one sentence is nearly impossible.

For those interested here is what I wrote:

Cape Parrots are an almost unknown species of parrot often called “Gentle Giants”, smart as an African Grey and cuddly as a Cockatoo.

And:

Cape Parrot actually refers to 3 species in two families; the South African Cape (Poicephalus robustus), the Grey-Headed Cape (Poicephalus fuscicollis suahelicus) and the Brown-Necked Cape (Poicephalus fuscicollis fuscicollis).

If anyone has anything better please let us know.

Comment from Ifsha Buttitta
Time January 28, 2011 at 2:32 pm

Thank you Craig. Actually, your quote about them being gentle giants is perfect.

Thanks for getting back to me so quickly, and for the photos. I will include your web page, along with your name, in the species profile.

Comment from Eric
Time February 11, 2011 at 4:43 am

Hello there,

I am a South African involved with the conservation of the Cape parrot (Poicephalus robustus). This parrot is currently facing extinction mainly due to a combination of the trade in wild-caught birds and habitat destruction. A further factor is the prevalence of Pstitticane Beak and Feather Disease amongst the wild population.

However, plans are afoot to reintroduce the parrot to the Knysna forests – the most extensive tract of Afromontane forest in Southern Africa. Knysna parrots occurred here about 125 to 150 years ago, but disappeared, primarily due to extensive disturbance of their habitat, especially massive exploitation of their main food source – the podocarpus yellow woods. However, the forests were closed in the 1930s, although the cutting of senescent trees is still allowed under permit. I would be interested to hear from owners of Cape parrots, especially the pure bred South African variety – Poicephalus robustus, who would like to support this project.

It is undoubted that a disease free population of free ranging wild parrots in the Knysna forests would be the best hopes for the Cape parrot’s survival into the future.

Comment from Bonnie Steinberg
Time March 9, 2011 at 5:27 pm

I have two Cape pairs and at this time and 3 1-year olds for sale. One of my hens is sitting eggs at this time but I do not know how many or if they are fertile. I’m always happy to talk to other Cape owners or people interested in learning more about them. I have other breeding pairs but the Capes are definitely my favorite and, in my opinion, the best pets.

Comment from Lynne Singerman
Time March 27, 2011 at 9:37 pm

Bonnie Steinberg- where are you located? I am interested in possibly getting a Cape. Lynne

Comment from Jennifer Hicks
Time April 25, 2011 at 6:52 pm

This is for Bonnie Steinberg. I am also interested in possibly getting a Cape. I am in contact with one bird breeder here in Indiana for a Brown necked cape. I am on a waiting list and could be another year before I get mine.
Please feel free to contact me at jennh44@comcast.net
Thank you!

Comment from T. Klopper
Time June 24, 2011 at 4:04 am

A flock of 30 plus Cape parrots has been spotted in Adelaide on 22/23 of June in Adelaide. Hope this is an indication that numbers are on the increase. Haven’t seen them in this area for at least the last 40 years

Comment from Tracy Starr
Time July 10, 2011 at 2:52 pm

I recently adopted a Grey Headed Parrot from our local Humane Society. His band indicates he was bred in Texas. I did not know what a find he was. He is very healthy and mimics everything. I have only had him for less than a week. I can send a picture if you like.

Comment from Nurper Love
Time May 12, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Hi,

Is there a difference in terms of talking capability of a brown neck cape vs grey neck cape? Also, does anybody know the differences between a female vs male (ie- friendliness or talking capability?) I fell in love what I’ve read about Cape parrots but was confused with he new classifications of the capes. Thank you!!

Comment from Terence Thiele
Time May 28, 2012 at 2:39 am

Hi, I am from Namibia in Africa and recently took in a Cape from people who were leaving the country and did not/could not take their two birds with, a 4 year old Cape female and a 5 year old Yellow Capped Amazon female, with them.
The Cape is a lovely bird, full of mischief and loves to play and show off, however has one small “evil” trait, when you are not looking loves to show how she can rip your finger/hand with the sharp tip of her beak. I am not sure which species she is but will find out and let you know.
Besides these two, I have also taken in an Umbrella Cockatoo, partly feather plucked but getting on well now, about 22 year old female, a Blue Fronted Amazon, also beaten and one wing damaged so he cannot fly, about 18 years old, a Blue Ring Neck, lost and unclaimed (talks nicely) a Fischers Love Bird(also mishandled and removed from people) and a 10 year old African Grey (my own since brith) and a real talker. We enjoy all the birds who have the run of the house when we are at home, hadto bird proof the place as they are not clipped. I am in the process of building an outside aviary to accommodate them all as it is becomeing a problem to have to move all the cages in and out every day and I am getting a bit old for this now, only 65 years youngh. I will download and post some photoes for you on the website later.

Regards, Terry Thiele

Comment from Barbara
Time October 7, 2012 at 4:29 pm

I also was interested in a cape parrot after much hunting with no results I setteled for a Quaker & parrotlett,still hoping to find my caped some day

Comment from dshore95
Time October 21, 2012 at 2:48 pm

I have a rescued green ringneck who is missing her right foot. Poor little dear thing was thrown from a moving car, my friend who has a sanctuary had her in a large aviary with a lot of loud Macaws, Moluccan cockatoos, Amazons and Conure – all noisy screamers. Poor little thing started plucking due to the cacophony. In my house with one Grey Headed Cape with compromised feather condition, two Sennies, a Red Bellied, a Brown Head, a Cameroon CAG and a found Normal Grey Cockatiel. I had never seen a Ringneck with no tail feathers and after moving in with my small flock the last one fell off. But the little bird has calm and peace.

To Barbara, unless you want to spend a King’s ransom you may not find a Cape here in the U.S. We have a controlled protected breeding pair in Northern California that had been willed to a dear friend and had not bred for 7 years. The pair had a clutch of three infertile eggs last year and we’re praying for better luck this time.

Comment from Judy Lantz
Time June 17, 2013 at 11:05 am

I have 2 young P.f. fusicolis females and am looking for mates for both. In addition I recently acquired an 8 year old male suahelicus for whom I also need a mate. Any help you can provide will be appreciated. Thanks much.
Judy Lantz
Parrots Naturally

Comment from fiveoaksaviary
Time August 10, 2013 at 7:33 pm

We are recent owners of a pair of Capes which are about 2 years old. Looking forward to this forum.

Comment from Bird Handlers
Time August 28, 2013 at 1:44 pm

We are excited to be welcoming a two-year old female Cape into our home next weekend. We are hoping this forum will see some activity.

Comment from Barbara
Time August 28, 2013 at 5:57 pm

Hello when your Capes are ready to mate I would be interested in a male baby,please keep me in mind

Comment from cgarcia
Time September 13, 2013 at 5:03 pm

I am a NEW Cape Baby Boy owner and just want to say HELLO from California. He is the newest addition to the flock of 9. What a special boy. I look forward to sharing his growth and personality traits. He knows his name and definitely enjoys the other parrots ( and cockatoo)!

Comment from Julia Norval (aged 11)
Time October 12, 2013 at 8:10 am

Hi. I am doing a school project on the Cape Parrot and would like to know how much they weigh and how fast they can fly? Can anyone help please? Thanks so much

Comment from Susan
Time October 29, 2013 at 3:19 pm

We have 2 males, 1 P.f. fusicolis, 1 suahelicus, both tested positive for PBFD more than 3 years ago. Neither have symptons or outward signs of the desease but could be carriers none the less. We need to rehome them but want to do so honestly and make sure that any potential new owner understands that they cannot have any other birds in their flock as these 2 may pose a risk to them. I do not want to seperate them and am willing to give them @ no cost to a good home. We are having to reconsider our current living situation and having them may seriously impact our ability to relocate. If there is anyone out there that may be able to help, please reply to my post and I will reach out to you to discuss further.
Thank you!

Comment from Edward
Time December 20, 2013 at 1:21 am

Susan, you said the Capes tested positive 3 years ago, but have remained asymptomatic? Have you had them retested to make sure they’re carriers? Some birds that are infected fight off the disease and actually develop an immunity which they can pass on to offspring.

Comment from Susan Taylor
Time December 20, 2013 at 1:25 pm

Thanks Edward for the information. No, we’ve not had them retested. Honestly, it was a bit confusing to me as to whether once infected they’d always pose a risk to other Psittacine or not, so we’ve just erred on the side of they’re contagious. That’s comforting to know that they could actually live a long life and if someday they’re bred, they could prevent others from having to suffer this disease. We’ll have to see about maybe getting the re-test done.
Thanks again for help.
Susan

Comment from Edward
Time December 23, 2013 at 3:20 pm

Susan, you’re welcome. When you get them retested please remember to post the results. Hopefully, you have yourself a pair of immune survivors, which would be esspecially valuable for someone who wished to breed them. I wish you all the best.

Sincerely,
Edward

Comment from Henk
Time December 27, 2013 at 9:31 am

I just spotted 5 Cape Parrots while hiking just outside Bulwer. The were playing around in a Wattle/Blue gum patch. Lovely to see them in the wild. Apparently, there is a healthy group of about 20-25 in the area. Wish I had a camera.

Comment from ocparrotnanny
Time December 28, 2013 at 10:20 pm

@ Hank – That’s amazing! Could you tell us more about where you are?

We adopted a Cape six years ago and she is the love of our lives! Has anyone found a source for planting the native yellowoods or purchasing the fruit?

Deb

Comment from Henk
Time December 29, 2013 at 11:04 pm

Hi Deb
As far as I know, the Yellowoods are quite well protected by the state in the Bulwer/Underberg area, South Africa. You can see the forests on google earth. The local farmers between Bulwer and Underberg are also quite good in terms of conservation. About 15 years ago a few large trees were mistakenly chopped down by local authorities, but since then the indigenous forests are doing well.The local farmers between Bulwer and Underberg are also quite good in terms of conservation. About 15 years ago we could count a group of about 35-40, but lately there are only about 25 at best. I am not sure why the numbers are decreasing, it may just be a cycle.

Enjoy your parrot, they are lovely.
Henk

Comment from ocparrotnanny
Time December 30, 2013 at 8:16 am

Hi Henk, Thank you for the reply! Yes, Capes are indeed lovely. We’ve been enjoying our Cape for about six years and she is such a joy! That is why I was hoping to possibly find her some of the kinds of food she would have been eating in nature… From what I’ve read, there are different types of yellowwoods, and it seems that there would be a way to purchase and replant some of them or to at least purchase some of the fruit of the tree? I am always left feeling as if there is something missing from her diet….are there any items that others are including in their Cape’s diet that would provide similar nutrients to what they get from the Yellowwoods? I’m not sure where to find that kind of information…
Thanks for any suggestions!

Comment from Michael from Namibia
Time January 28, 2014 at 5:13 am

Hi all. I have 3 male and 2 Female Cape Parots that I got from different people in Namibia. I Think the are the most gentle bird that I know of. They feel like family to me. I like going to thaier cages and talking to them. It is like tthey want to be treeted as family.I love my birds ……

Comment from Willem Coetzer
Time March 12, 2014 at 2:07 am

Hi,

My name is Willem Coetzer. I’m doing my PhD on the genetics of the Cape Parrot (P. robustus) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal with Dr. S. Willows-Munro and Profs C. Downs and M. Perrin. The main aims of my study is to give genetic support for the taxonomic split between the Cape Parrots (P.r.) and the Grey-headed and Brown-necked Parrots (P.f.s. and Pf.f.); to determine the genetic variation in the wild Cape population in South Africa; and to establish a DNA data base of captive bred and wild Cape Parrots (P.r.) in South Africa.

If any Cape Parrot breeders from South Africa are willing to assist me in my project by providing blood samples of their Capes, please contact me at coetzerwg@outlook.com.

Regards
Willem

Comment from Tor
Time May 7, 2014 at 9:28 am

Does anyone know of any breeders of the Cape Parrot in Europe, or even better Scandinavia? Any information will be most welcome.

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