Brown Headed Parrot

© Nigel J Dennis
Brown Headed Parrot.


Brown-headed parrot (Poicephalus Cryptoxanthus)


The brown-headed parrot is a small (22-25 cm) green parrot with a brownish-grey head. The underwing coverts are yellow which unfortunately can only be seen properly when in flight. The scientific name, Cryptoxanthus, means literally ‘hidden yellow’ and refers to the yellow underside of the wing. The neck is grey-brown merging to brown on the head.
The brown-headed parrot has a whitish beak with black on the tip of the upper mandible but the extent of black depends on the individual. The iris is a greyish-yellow but some have light grey eyes. All juvenile brown-headed parrots have dark grey, almost black eyes, which lighten to their adult colour by the time the bird is a year old.

Brown-headed Parrot Diet

They feed on a variety of seeds, nuts, berries, flowers, fruits and nectar. They also will raid millet and corn fields and can be considered agricultural pests in some areas. They are often found in groups of up to 50 where there is a good source of food.

Brown-headed Parrot Breeding

Brown-headed parrots are mature at about 2 years old, but may not breed until they are 3 or 4. Most pairs will breed in winter but some breed year-round in South Africa. The female will lay 2-4 eggs and the incubation period is usually 28 days. Most young parrots wean around 8-10 weeks old.

Brown-headed Parrot Behaviour

Brown-headed parrots are usually found in pairs or small groups and seem to prefer large, tall trees. They are shy and well camouflaged and mostly seen when flying from tree to tree. According to the Lexicon of Parrots, brown-headed parrots are sometimes found flocking with Cape parrots.

Where they are found

The brown-headed parrot originates from eastern South Africa and is also found in Zululand, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Mali and the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba.