BROWN-NECKED, GREY-HEADED & CAPE PARROT                       
Poicephalus fusicollis, Poicephalus robustus

» The true Cape Parrot (Poicephalus robustus)of South Africa is seriously endangered due to capture for the pet trade and Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease in its wild population.  
» The Brown-necked parrot (
Poicephalus robustus fusicollis orPoicephalus fusicollis fusicollis) is from West Africa and includes northern Ghana, Togo, Gambia and southern Senegal. It is the most common of these three birds as human companions. 
» The Grey-headed parrot (
Poicephalus suahelicus) is from Mozambique, Zimbabwe, northern Botswana, and northern Namibia.
» The largest birds in the Poicephalus family at about 13".

Recently the taxonomy of the P. robustus has changed and become quite confusing to many people. Now the nominate robustus is now considered a separate species from the P. suahelicus and P. fuscicollis. The robustus (P. robustus) is now the only true Cape parrot. The P. fuscicollis fuscicollis is now called the Brown-necked Parrot and the P. fuscicollis suahelicus is now called the Grey-Headed Parrot.

How does this apply to the companion parrots in these species? I am sure that the "Cape" parrots that I have met are no longer called just Cape parrots. I really have no idea whether these three birds have differing traits so I will cover the parrots that I have met or heard about. I would imagine that most of the delightful birds that I have met are the Brown-necked parrots. The true Cape (P. robustus) is seriously endangered in its native South Africa and probably less likely to be a human companion in the United States.     

The Cape parrot is still unusual as a human companion although there are certainly more now. I met my first Cape parrot about 15 years ago and was very impressed with him and I have been equally impressed with the ones I have met since. The well-socialized hand-feds are very sweet and easy to handle but can be a bit stubborn but come aroung fairly quickly and become affectionate to their favored person. They tend to be very curious and like to explore. One caregiver I know takes her Gray-headed Cape foraging for safe berries. She also goes to various events and the bird loves her many adventures. One caregiver referred to them as the “teddy bears of the Poicephalus ... friendly, affable, and intelligent.” They seem to be a very adaptable parrot who are comfortable in the midst of a busy family — like most parrots, they really want to be where the action is. They are an energetic birds who use their large beak for chewing and they enjoy occasional nuts in the shell. They can be excellent talkers, readily picking up words and sounds from the people and activities in their lives. However, although I have not heard it, I am told they do have a contact call that some people find piercing.




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