Cape Parrot – A calm and semi-independent pet bird

Birds Human Classroom

This beautiful pet bird has almost everything you can look for in a pet, of course, it depends on your tastes and what you are looking for. You must investigate and learn as much as you can about any new species or pets before you adopt it since you must know all its aspects, needs, and personality before completing the process. The Cape Parrot is very loved and sought after thanks to its beautiful plumage and personality, plus it resembles the African Grey Parrot in these qualities, even though it comes from the same group as the Senegal Parrot or Meyer’s Parrot. The Cape bird is usually very common in pet stores so you should not have as much trouble getting one, but before that, I invite you to learn a little more about this wonderful bird and to help you choose the new feathery companion for your home.

General Description

The average lifespan of the Cape Parrots is between 15 and 20 years, although there have been reports of those living up to 40 years, so be prepared for a multi-decade commitment that will pay off if you play your cards right. But, this is something that can vary for better or worse, depending on the type and quality of care and handling you can give it, as well as any complication that can get out of hand as it usually does with some humans. For this, you must learn everything you can about its natural habitat, about how it is related to the rest of the flock in general, on its diet, and of course, the size of the Cape Parrot so that you can acquire one or several cages that go according to the recommended parameters but we will be talking little by little about each one of these aspects. Some authors say that the habitat of the Cape varies with the time of year or reproductive stage, but there are several places where you can get it in Africa like forest habitat, Afromontane forest, indigenous forest, montane forest, amathole mountains, and amathole mountains since they come from the same regions as their “cousins” Poicephalus. Its scientific name is Poicephalus robustus, and the genus poicephalus has 3 subspecies;

  • P.r. robustus
  • P.r. suahelicus
  • P.r. fuscicollis

Among the poicephalus species, there are small differences in the coloring of their plumage as it happens between the male and the female, where the female cape parrot has an orange coloring on the beak or in the area of the head which is why some authors mention that it carries a crown, but the rest is usually equal to the male. Among its subspecies, there are details in the coloring that differentiate them but they still maintain the same personality so it is up to you to choose the one that suits your tastes. The coloring of its plumage is something that usually calls attention and possibly is one of the first reasons why people look for it so much, being so attractive to the human eye. Besides this, the gray shade in their plumage and that they have a short tail is part of the reason why they are compared or rather resemble the African Grey. When they are young their color is not usually the same or as vivid as when they reach maturity, despite maintaining a greenish color in most of the body is darker with an olive tone during their early stages of life, as well as the head has a mixture between green, yellow and brown that comes occupies the neck equally, and lack the orange / red shades that stand out so much in the adult. The color of the head and neck of this brown necked parrot remains similar, but as I mentioned before, it is usually a more vivid tone of the colors it already had, where an olive shade predominates over the yellow that now looks more like gold, and a brown shade is maintained, which extends to the chest. In the head is where the female has her orange/red and already in both sexes, but it is not the only place where they have this so bright coloration. It can also be seen on the feet and a portion of the wings and thighs. This coloration on their feet gives the impression that they are wearing socks.

The green color covers its thighs, the lower abdomen, and the central part of the wings where the tone of the feathers varies with the area of the body. Its tail, as I mentioned, is short and black, as well as the upper part of the wings making the orange tone stand out more. Its beak is large and curved, with a grayish or horn-like tone, which is not the only aspect of this bird that is strong or powerful since it also has a heavy-boned structure and robust appearance.


Picture from Adobe Stock

Not only do they share certain tastes in terms of their habitat with the other African species, but also parts of their personality. The poicephalus parrot is usually seen in Southern Africa, predominating in woodlands or lowlands near the coastline and also in higher places such as mountain forests at an altitude above 4,000 ft above sea level. 

The Cape Parrot is a species that is at risk due to deforestation by humans. Although some humans have tried to stop this type of activity to protect this species, in addition to starting programs to maintain and care for it in captivity. Some people look for them as pets but they end up contributing to the maintenance of the species. They reach sexual maturity at about 3 years of age, so between this age and 5 years of age they are ideal for reproduction, always looking for the time to mate, which has been described as being between September to December as well as May and July. In case you want to help with this type of activity, it is best to seek the support and help of those people who know how to handle this type of situation.


This peculiar feathered companion usually stands out over other species thanks to its good and quiet behavior, they are not noisy compared to other birds and have a certain sense of independence so you will not have the same problem as with the Cockatoos that are usually very demanding in the social aspect. That said, this grey headed parrot is still a sociable bird, only it will not always seek to be with its owners or family, but this is as long as you can provide it with a toy or something with which it can entertain itself. They are intelligent birds that tend to learn quickly as well as adapt to new environments, but this makes them somewhat problematic as they can become rather demanding or stubborn. Likewise, they have a good reputation for being quiet or making pleasant sounds instead of being a nuisance, in their natural habitat they are usually quite noisy and loud but it is part of their normal behavior and it is their way of communicating or calling each other among the rest of the flock.

They may be very prized for their personality, but if you don’t give them the care and attention they require, all you can read about them will be of no use if you don’t apply good management. To get the calm, loving, playful, intelligent, and well-mannered bird you must work a little to be able to both maintain it and get it to this point. There are other options in the market in case you are a beginner in the avian world but if you have the necessary disposition and discipline you can well fulfill the objective with this species, but the best thing is that if you are a person with little experience it is best to look for another species due to the decrease in the number of the Cape Parrot as far as its natural habitat is concerned. People who come to breed or adopt them are best advised on how to help preserve the Cape Parrot, so that they know what they are getting into to prevent any problems from occurring that might limit or complicate their reproduction and behavior.

It is important that when adopting a Cape Parrot you have a good relationship with a reputable breeder or if it is in a pet store, that they can inform you about how the breeding has been carried out. This is because as much as they may be known as a quiet species, they can become aggressive. After all, they are not used to a certain treatment. Those who have been raised nearby or by humans tend to get along better with families or in the household, while those who have been raised by their parents or are raised in pairs can become aggressive. As strange as it may seem, the poicephalus parrot is a bird that is shy despite having certain social aspects that do not go well with this type of behavior, but it all depends on the trust it can have with people.

Care & Health

Picture from Africa Geographic blog

Being a bird of considerable size, it will require space proportional to it to avoid problems with your Cape Parrot. Certainly, their good temperament and ability to keep relatively quiet, if handled properly, make them good choices for apartments. The problem lies in the space you can offer them since the most recommended thing is that you can provide them with an aviary, even more so if they will stay so long without requiring your presence or that of another member of the family thanks to their independence. It requires a good and wide space to play or to recreate, besides always having the necessary utensils at hand so that it can keep itself as the happy bird that it so much deserves. It is not enough to provide as many toys or accessories, you must always take into account that the toys are made of a material that does not end up causing any damage to your Cape Parrot since with its powerful beak it can break the toys with a certain ease. Besides this, other accessories will help you to keep your bird’s claws under control to avoid any accident or harm to you later on. The same goes for the trimming of its wings, you must know exactly which ones and to what extent to cut them so that your Cape Parrot can move in the air but does not allow it to rise.

If you have doubts about this topic or you don’t dare to do it on your own, you can use the visits you make to the avian vet, which in itself should be a habit on your part. By keeping frequent visits you will be able to keep your Cape Parrot in better shape and ensure that it does not suffer from diseases, a professional can advise on everything you might have doubts about. In addition to this, it is recommended that you bathe your feathered partner regularly. Some birds love water but you don’t necessarily have to get them wet completely, with a sprinkler you can spray the water on their body and let it dry in an area close to the sun or with a dryer, as long as your bird doesn’t have a problem with this type of apparatus.

Your pet’s nutrition is of utmost importance and you should not assume that one type of food will be enough. Birds are prone to problems due to mismanagement of their diet, either by deficiency or excess of some element in their food can lead to a serious complication. In their natural habitat they usually feed on fruits and seeds usually on yellowwood tree, but it is advisable that if they are at home, you can give them concentrated food or pellets that are following their needs that are recommended and approved by their veterinarian. You can take advantage of what he usually eats in nature to vary his diet a bit and not to get bored with the food, since you should use everything you have at your disposal and in the best way possible without altering or compromising his health. There are even some flowers that they can eat, but you should inform yourself and consult with your doctor about what they can and cannot eat, as well as the daily portions of everything you can give them. For example, just as it happens with other common pets such as dogs and cats, birds cannot eat avocado or chocolate because it is toxic for them.

Among the diseases you should try to stay alert come both from pathogens or opportunistic agents as well as mismanagement, being by poor diet, poor management, and hygiene. A sad or unhappy bird may choose to self-mutilate by feather plucking, so you should not neglect it even if it does not require you to be always with it. Other complications involve those infections of bacterial, viral, or fungal origin such as aspergillosis, a disease of the respiratory tract, feather disease, some disorders related to the level of calcium in the blood, psittacine and psittacine beak, among others. This is where the importance of routine check-ups throughout the year lies in keeping these, and other possible complications under control so that you can ensure your bird the quality of life it so richly deserves. Similarly, if you have any questions regarding handling, I invite you to read my article about the care and management of pet birds where I hope to clarify all but most of your doubts regarding this aspect.

Like the rest of her mates in the Poicephalus group, they can speak but do not usually acquire such a large vocabulary. They are very affectionate, intelligent, calm, quiet, and somewhat shy birds, so time and dedication are part of the keys to obtaining the distinct species of Parrots that everyone speaks so much about. Certainly, the color is something very attractive of their plumage but you should not get carried away by their appearances since their feelings and needs are what you really should care about. I hope this article has been helpful to you, and if you have any questions please let me know in the comment section down below.

Professor Whiskers
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