Brown-headed Parrot (Poicephalus cryptoxanthus)

Brown-headed Parrot

[order] PSITTACIFORMES | [family] Psittacidae | [latin] Poicephalus cryptoxanthus | [authority] Peters, 1854 | [UK] Brown-headed Parrot | [FR] Perroquet a tete brune | [DE] Braunkopf-Papagei | [ES] Lorito Cabecipardo | [NL] Bruinkoppapegaai | [copyright picture] Paul Bright


Monotypic species


The genus Poicephalus comprises 10 species of small and medium-sized parrots, which collectively are distributed over much of Africa south of the Sahara Desert. The genus is characterized by parrots that are compact and stocky; have head coloration that is often distinct from body coloration; have relatively large heads, square tails, and relatively large bills (Poicephalus means, literally, “made of head”); and are either sexually dimorphic or monomorphic depending on species.

Physical charateristics

P.c. cryptoxanthus: both adults small, mainly green parrots with grey/brown head; bright yellow underwings. Blue/grey upper mandible, tan lower. Bare cere and eye ring dark brown/grey. Eye yellow. P.c. tanganyikae: as in crytoxanthus but paler; more green and less brown. Mantle greener and underparts brighter.

Listen to the sound of Brown-headed Parrot

[audio: Parrot.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

recorded by Don Jones

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 23 cm size max.: 25 cm
incubation min.: 26 days incubation max.: 30 days
fledging min.: 80 days fledging max.: 90 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 3  


Africa : Southeast. Subspecies tanganyikae is found in south-east Kenya, Wasiri Island, Zanzibar and Pemba in eastern Tanzania (where common and widespread, south Malawi and Mozambique (north of the River Save). Subspecies cryptoxanthus is known from south-east Zimbabwe and Mozambique (south of the River Save) to north-east South Africa (Swaziland, Zululand and Transvaal).


It occurs in semi-arid and subhumid bush, thornveld, open wooded savanna and woodland, including areas with large baobabs or figs, riparian forest, coconut and cashew-nut plantations, smallholdings and mangroves up to 1,200 m.


Nest is a tree cavity, clutch size is 2-3 eggs which are incubated by the female only for about 4 weeks. Young fledge after another 12 weeks.

Feeding habits

Slow foraging, drinks around midday. Diets consists of figs, berries, seeds, coconut palm flowers, young tree shoots, fruits, pods, unripe seeds and Aloe nectar; also millet and maize from cultivated areas.

Video Brown-headed Parrot


copyright: Max Roth


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Extensive decrease in historical range, especially since mid 1990s. The species is increasingly vulnerable to habitat loss and fragmentation, and probably undergoing a general decline, with illegal capture for the bird trade of concern in Mozambique. Loss of large trees likely to cause nest site limitation; this may partly explain relative scarcity outside conserved areas.
Brown-headed Parrot status Least Concern


Sedentary with some displacment in search of food or in Northern range to avoid cold.

Distribution map

Brown-headed Parrot distribution range map

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